Albert Racinet’s L’Ornement Polychrome,1869–73.

Albert-Charles-Auguste Racinet (1825–1893), himself an accomplished artist, is best known today for publishing two major pictorial works on the history of design — Le costume historique and L’Ornement polychrome — while engraver and artistic director at the Parisian publisher Firmin Didot et Cie. Published in ten instalments between 1869 and 1873, the first iteration of […]

‘The Prince’ and the Politics of Power by Machiavelli.

The father of modern political theory, Niccolo di Bernardo dei Machiavelli, was born at Florence, May 3, 1469, saw the troubles of the French invasion (1493), when the Medici fled, and in 1498 became secretary of the Ten, a post he held until the fall of the republic in 1512. He was employed in a […]

The Madness of Hot Metal Piecework.

I WAS working on an Intertype at the Walthamstow Guardian when I managed to get a ‘Grass’ on the Sunday Telegraph (this meant working the Saturday as a casual operator) through a fellow operator who put in a word, knowhatimean? It was a real closed society when I started, no-one told new people anything and […]

‘The Clang Out.’

Hot Metal Comps. had a unique way of saying goodbye to a workmate who was retiring from the trade. There was a hell of a lot of racket in the Comp Room when it happened! The journeyman Comps. and their Apprentices would scatter everywhere grabbing small chases, metal galleys, quoin keys, furniture or anything remotely […]

Hot Metal Type Pictures.

One panel of a folder for a tea merchant. This is an amazingly creative piece of work, with letters formed from “printers flowers” and border elements, and the letters made structural parts of a scene constructed in Oriental style metal type elements: Combination Chinese Border Series 91, Patented January 18, 1881 by MacKellar, Smiths & […]

‘Death and the Eternal Forever’ by Ron English.

Ron English has bombed the global landscape with countless unforgettable images: on the street, in museums, in movies, in books and on television. Coining the term ‘POPaganda’ to describe his signature mash-up of high and low cultural touchstones; from superhero mythology to totems of art history, his work is populated with a vast and constantly […]

John Baskerville, Type Designer.

Born 1706–Died 1775, English type designer and printer. He and Caslon were the two great type designers of the 18th century in England. He began his work as printer and publisher in 1757 and in 1758 became printer to the University of Cambridge. Baskerville’s first volume was a quarto edition of Vergil. His type faces […]

The Atlas of Living Australia.

The green-spotted triangle butterfly is one species documented in the Atlas of Living Australia. (Credit: CSIRO) by Natalie Muller DON HOBERN REMEMBERS spending much of his childhood looking at beetles and moths without knowing how to identify what he was looking at. What he needed was a good book – one with pictures, descriptions and […]

What is Printed Ephemera?

“a little museum of common printed things, to illustrate at one and the same time the historical development of our social life and the development of printing” The term ‘printed ephemera’, although used privately by the great English collector, John Johnson, was established in the public consciousness in 1962 by John Lewis’s work of that […]

The Art of Marbling Books.

Marbled paper has been used for centuries in bookbinding, generally as endpapers—front and back—sometimes as outside decorative covers. It is made by floating pigments upon a mucilaginous “size”, arranging the chosen colors as desired using toothed combs and other tools, then laying a sheet of paper or fabric onto the floating pattern to pick it […]