The spring 2012 issue of The Book Collector has some very nice reviews of our books!
The Kelmscott Chaucer: A Census by William S. Peterson and Sylvia Holton Peterson
It has been known for years that the Petersons were preparing a census of all known copies of the Kelmscott Chaucer, and I may confess that the idea puzzled me a little: who cares where they exist now, I wondered, so many of them, or what was paid? Half an hour with this immensely painstaking, beautifully organized book showed how wrong I was; for they had the vision to judge a unique situation in the history of printed books, and record it.
Several admirable decisions as to design were taken, converting what might have been mere reference into an enjoyable and charming work. No doubt its authors were largely responsible, but all praise to their publishers too. — Colin Franklin
Other People’s Books: Association Copies and the Stories They Tell distributed for The Caxton Club
Finely produced and edited — imagine producing a book with more than fifty contributors — and with well-chosen photographs, this is a work which will resonate with almost everyone interested in books and their history. Every book collector who opens it will find some book to covet, and something to learn. — Christopher Edwards
The Atlas Blaeu-Van der Hem: History of the Atlas and the making of the facsimile distributed for HES & DE GRAFF
The book provides the general reader with a most informative and prettily illustrated introduction to the atlas and its place in the culture of its time and in the context of Van der Hem’s other collections of books, prints and drawings which were sold at auction in 1684. — Peter Barber
Field & Tuer, The Leadenhall Press by Matthew Young
Matthew Young’s researches into the Leadenhall Press have extended over many years, and his short introductory essay is detailed and informative. The checklist of the press, upwards of 450 items, is similarly instructive, as are the Tuer checklist, details of the ephemera, and notes on the various series. There is a useful bibliography, with a comprehensive Index. The illustrations, especially those in colour, provide an entertaining grandstand from which to consider the widespread curiosities of the press. Apart from its bibliographical detail, it must be said that the present volume has had the considerable advantage of having been designed by the author, a typographer himself, so that the proportions of the text to the page are in perfect order, with balanced margins, and a seemly organization of the text matter. The binding is neat, with an elegant dust jacket.
This is a useful account of a press whose publications have largely lapsed from current view, Young’s essay bringing to life what proves to be a surprisingly long checklist. — David Chambers
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:
‘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.
Matthew McLennan Young, author of Field & Tuer, The Leadenhall Press: A Checklist, shares with us his post-publication discovery of the cover and prospectus for the Leadenhall Press publication, Horn-Book Jingles.
Every bibliographer must be prepared for post-publication discovery. In my case, I hoped for it. I had stumbled upon and been captivated by an imaginative and energetic late Victorian London publisher whose history was all but unrecorded, yet who (I was to learn) enjoyed worldwide respect in his lifetime and was at the forefront of the revival of fine printing during the 1880s. Since the publisher’s archives did not survive, and prior scholarship was sketchy at best, I was curious to see what new information might come to light as a result of my efforts. I did not have to wait long.
Last June, shortly after my book appeared, a London chartered accountant named Peter Lobbenberg contacted me to say, “I was thrilled to discover, just today, your book on Andrew Tuer and the Leadenhall Press. I have immediately ordered it from Oak Knoll. I was blissfully unaware that there were other Leadenhall Press fans apart from me!” He was immediately able to correct me on a couple of relatively minor points and add several items to my list of known ephemera. No wonder: Peter has what may well be the most remarkable collection of Leadenhall Press books in private hands, including proof copies with original art, association copies, correspondence, prints, and scarce ephemera. Among the latter is the one-page prospectus for Horn-Book Jingles by Mrs. Arthur (Georgie) Gaskin, an item I had listed but not been able to locate, as well as a four-page version with order form that I had not found in my research. Peter and I now carry on a regular email dialogue on various aspects of the Press, its publications, and associations. I look forward to seeing his treasures some day soon.
Not two weeks after first hearing from Peter, I received an email from Andrea Immel, Curator of the Cotsen Children’s Library at Princeton, in which she wrote, “I discovered that some years ago Mr. Cotsen purchased all the artwork by Georgie Gaskin for the Leadenhall Press Horn-book Jingles. This is a horrible thing to do to a bibliographer who has just published a magnum opus, but I thought you’d rather know they survived than not!” I couldn’t have been more thrilled. A few days later I was able to compare the original art (drawn and hand-lettered on 73 sheets of card) with the printed pages and take photographs for reference. In turn, I was able to provide Andrea with additional provenance going back to the sale of part of Andrew Tuer’s collection after his death, at Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge on July 17, 1900. (The drawings went to Maggs for £3, 3s.) As a result, I have been invited to provide a cover note for an upcoming issue of the Princeton University Library Chronicle.
Every discovery and bit of shared knowledge contributes to a more complete history of a publisher whose books deserve to be remembered and enjoyed today. I hope that, in due course, there will be enough new information to warrant a revised edition or addendum. In the mean time, I’m jotting down notes!
-Matthew McLennan Young
Click here to learn more about Matthew’s book, Field & Tuer, The Leadenhall Press.