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An Excerpt from Field & Tuer: The Leadenhall Press

February 25, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Earlier this week, Matthew McLennan Young shared with us some of the post-publication discoveries he made after publishing his book, Field & Tuer, The Leadenhall Press. Now read an excerpt from Field & Tuer that discusses the effect women employees had on the Press’s output. It includes a section where Mabel (a Field & Tuer author) explains her experiences working with publisher Andrew Tuer.

The press employed women and girls, and their skills are reflected in the designs of a number of books, several of them bound in patterned cloth: Rus in Urbe (1886) and Our Grandmothers’ Gowns (1884) in floral cloth with paper labels and ribbon ties; the privately printed Diary J.A.H.M. (1886), in Japanese-style velvet with printed silk endpapers; and Views of English Society by a little girl of eleven (1886), which has an unusual sewn turn-in construction designed by the author, Mabel, who also drew the illustrations. In her last chapter, “How to Get a Book Printed,” and an addendum, Mabel offers observations of Andrew Tuer that are worth quoting at length. She tells (not unlike Jerome K. Jerome) of disappointing visits to surly or unresponsive publishers, manuscript in hand and Cummings, the family maid, in tow, and of finally arriving at the Leadenhall offices:

‘I found myself in the presence of a gentleman who reminded me of an amiable curate we once had; he spoke naturally, not just in set speeches as the other publisher had done. He wore a clerical waistcoat, and had on one of those bendey sort of collars, which I suppose are made of india-rubber and slip on over the head, for I have never been able to discover how they fasten. He was very brisk, and had such keen eyes that I think they looked straight through the cover of a book and saved him the trouble of opening it. He seemed to know all about mine in a minute. He made a few remarks about it, and even went so far as to say I was a clever little girl, and…explained to me that instead of my paying him, as I expected to do, he was going to pay me.’

She then recounts her proposal of the binding design to Tuer:

Andrew W. Tuer

Andrew W. Tuer

‘I took it to my publisher and told him if he liked it, and would give me sufficient time, I would make them all. I supposed he would want twenty or perhaps even as many as thirty. He looked very quizzical and asked if I would undertake to make two or three thousand. At first I thought he was making fun of me, but I found he was quite in earnest, so I could only shake my head and tell him that was quite impossible. I feared I should have to put up with those uninteresting cloth things with gilt letters, just like other people’s books, but the dark-eyed young man helped me out of the difficulty by saying there were lots of little girls in his factory who had to earn their bread-and-butter, and that they could make the covers quite as well as I could if I would leave the one I had made as a pattern for them to copy.’

One other book that features work by women’s hands was The Follies & Fashions of Our Grandfathers (1886-7), which has embroidered silk labels on the cover and spine, floral-patterned cloth endpapers, and a cloth bookmarks with the title of the book embroidered on both sides. This work is also an example of Tuer’s affection for limited editions.

Click here for more information on Field & Tuer: The Leadenhall Press.

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  1. March 6, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    I think this excerpt is an especially informative and beautiful statement about Tuer, which adds insight to his character, creativity and humanity. It enhances appreciation of Field & Tuer’s work.

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