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

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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 great variety of missions, including one to the Emperor Maximilian, and four to France.
His dispatches during these journeys, and his treatises on the Affairs of France and Germany, are full of far-reaching insight.
On the restoration of the Medici, Machiavelli was involved in the downfall of his patron, Gonfaloniere Soderini.
Arrested on a charge of conspiracy in 1513, and put to the torture, he disclaimed all knowledge of the alleged conspiracy.
Although pardoned, he was obliged to retire from public life and devoted himself to literature.
It was not until 1519 that he was commissioned by Leo X to draw up his report on a reform of the state of Florence.
In 1521-25 he was employed in diplomatic services and as historiographer.
After the defeat of the French at Pavia (1525), Italy was helpless before the advancing forces of the Emperor Charles V and Machiavelli strove to avert from Florence the invading army on its way to Rome.
In May 1527 the Florentines again drove out the Medici and proclaimed the republic — but Machiavelli, bitterly disappointed that he was to be allowed no part in the movement for liberty, and already in declining health, died on June 22.
Through misrepresentation and misunderstanding his writings were spoken of as almost diabolical, his most violent assailants being the clergy. The first great edition of his works was not issued until 1782. From that period his fame as the founder of political science has steadily increased.
Besides his letters and state papers, Machiavelli’s historical writings comprise Florentine Histories, Discourses on the First Decade of Titus Livius (commonly known as The Discourses), a Life of Castruccio Castrancani (unfinished) and History of the Affairs of Lucca.
His literary works comprise an imitation of the Golden Ass of Apuleius, an essay on the Italian language, the play Mandragola, and several minor compositions. He also wrote Seven Books on the Art of War.
The greatest source of Machiavelli’s reputation is, of course, The Prince (1532).
The main theme of this short book is that all means may be resorted to for the establishment and preservation of authority — the end justifies the means — and that the worst and most treacherous acts of the ruler are justified by the wickedness and treachery of the governed.
The Prince was condemned by Pope Clement VIII.
via Niccolo Machiavelli, 1469-1527.

The Madness of Hot Metal Piecework.

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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 bearing in mind that it was piecework and a docket had to be filled out for every slug of type set and there were three separate type of charges this meant you were really in the dark.
Eventually one of the older regular operators took pity on me and showed me how to charge my work, anyway that is what I thought until I found he was copying what I was charging and also charging it himself!
Anyway, I persevered not knowing if I would be called back the next Saturday until last knockings Saturday night.
Hardly any of the regulars spoke to us lower forms of life but I needed the money so I kept my head down until out of the blue I was asked if I was interested in a ‘spike’ on the Daily Telegraph night shift (called the Continunity).
As this trebled my wages from the Walthamstow Guardian I didn’t say no. When I told me wife she said that I shouldn’t take that amount of money each week as it was too much!
When I started I wasn’t allowed to write a piece docket until they felt I was fast enough (and could earn enough) for their pooled piece work. Then they had a Chapel meeting (without me) to decide if they wanted me in.
Fortunately they voted me in and I was there for the next 15 years.
When I started I made the mistake of putting up my own ingot and got jumped on by the local Natsopa bloke whose sole job it was to do that.
I also learned that the liners mustn’t be changed by the operators, although we were allowed to fix the disser stops and splashes.
Most of the machines were Linotype 48s with later Intertypes with Mohr saws for the ads in the ‘Monkey House’ (a small room attached to the Linotype room).
The Chapel ruled the whole area and the Printers kept their heads down, this encouraged the characters of the department (mostly compositors as we were too busy writing our dockets earning money). There were untold ‘trots’ (I think wind-up would be a contempory analagy)
A good one was a reel of toy gun ‘caps’ strapped round the main drive cog so when a line is sent away a machine gun like effect took place, this almost stopped the operator writing a charge, but in the end we developed a charge specially for this event!
The Father of the Chapel was the King of the whole place and to be truthful he didn’t do a lot of work, but he did the negotiating so he was given that privilege. He approved hiring and firing and untold numbers of Chapel Meetings.
I can honestly say that I enjoyed every night I went to work and looking back how privileged we were to be in that position for such a long time. Eventually it all went t*ts up, but these things happen, it certainly gave me a good living for a long period of time and was the best place I have ever ‘worked.’
Read more via Metal Type – Fleet Street Piecework.

‘The Clang Out.’

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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 metal and line up around the work “stone” or “stones” and wait.
Wait for what, you may ask? Yes, it was for some poor old bastard who was retiring.
The noise was deafening as the blokes went ballistic by banging away with their chases and galleys at a furious rate.
 It was bloody wonderful fun and a fitting tribute to the comp for his years of slaving away with lead type and ink.
Gradually with the advent of new technology the clang-out slowly subsided.
There wasn’t much fun in trying to slap two paper bromides together.
It was a bloody sad time! The trade was changing as the new technology swept over us!
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Hot Metal Type Pictures.

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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 & Jordan, designed and cut by William W. Jackson.
Letterpress “type pictures”—scenes constructed from metal type elements—became particularly common during the 1870s and 1880s, especially with the popularity of Oriental, Egyptian, Assyrian, Moorish, Chinese and Japanese motif type elements.
(During that era, lithographers also produced Oriental, etc. themed pieces, but I am here focusing on work done by typesetters/letterpress printers.)
As with all “creative” arrangements of type, the quality varied. Some typesetters created lively and interesting scenes, while less talented workers seemed to have thrown together elements rather randomly.
There is a lot of cringingly poor work out there to be found.

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Trade card. This printer, Harding, put together a little scene unusual in that five colors were used.
Most of the metal type elements are from Combination Chinese Border Series 88, Patented September 30, 1879 by MacKellar, Smiths & Jordan, designed and cut by William W. Jackson.
See more at this brilliant website via Type pictures | Sheaff : ephemera.

‘Death and the Eternal Forever’ by Ron English.

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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 growing arsenal of original characters.
English featured in the hit movies Super Size Me and Exit Through the Gift Shop, and hosted Britain’s The Other America series on Sky TV; he has also made numerous television appearances worldwide.
He is the subject of the award-winning 2006 documentary POPaganda: the Art and Crimes of Ron English and the 2009 documentary Abraham Obama.
He has exhibited worldwide in numerous prestigious galleries and his work resides in the permanent collections of Rome’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MACRO), Paris’s Museum of Modern Art, amongst others.
English continues to create art that propels unstated cultural norms just beyond the bounds of comfort into a disconcerting realm simultaneously hilarious and terrifying.
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Death and the Eternal Forever is available online via http://www.koreropress.com,
Read on via ART PICS: Ron English ‘Death and the Eternal Forever’ Art Book Launch @AtomicaGallery Thursday 31st July, 6-8pm | FADWEBSITE.

John Baskerville, Type Designer.

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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 introduced the modern, pseudoclassical style, with level serifs and with emphasis on the contrast of light and heavy lines.
This style influenced designers in France and that of Bodoni in Italy.
Books printed by Baskerville are typically large, with wide margins, made with excellent paper and ink. His masterpiece was a folio Bible, published in 1763.
After his death his wife operated the press until 1777.
Then most of his types were purchased by Beaumarchais and were used in his 70-volume edition of Voltaire.
The matrices, long lost, were rediscovered and in 1953 were presented to Cambridge University Press.
Among Baskerville’s publications in the British Museum are Aesop’s Fables (1761), the Bible (1763), and the works of Horace (1770).

The Atlas of Living Australia.

green-spotted_triangle_butterfly_largeThe 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 species distribution maps.
Now a trained computer programmer, Don is using his information technology skills to further his interest in natural history. He is leading a project that aims to make Australian biology collections available to the public via the web.
Don is the inaugural director of the Atlas of Living Australia, an online treasure trove of data about Australia’s native plants and animals. “The biggest problem most people have is understanding the wildlife around them and not knowing how to identify them,” he says.
The interactive encyclopaedia, which acts as both a Yellow Pages of Australian species and a social networking site for naturalists, is still a work in progress. But Don hopes it will be a handy resource for experts and policy makers, as well as for kids, eco-tourists and amateur naturalists.
So far the atlas features downloadable distribution charts, identification tools, images, scientific literature and data sets that provide as complete a picture as possible about each species. Eventually, DNA barcoding will also be added.
rawPhoto: Australian Magpie.
The atlas was launched late last year and already contains more than 23 million records from museums and data collections around the country. But digitising Australia’s wildlife records is no small task.
That’s one of the reasons why the atlas team is encouraging the public to upload their own field notes, sightings and photographs to the encyclopaedia’s citizen science portal.
Atlas of Living Australia
http://www.ala.org.au/
via Just one click to identify Australian species – Australian Geographic.

What is Printed Ephemera?

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“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 name which drew on Johnson’s collection, among others, to illustrate the range of ephemera.
Inspired by his career as a papyrologist, Johnson began collecting in the 1930s and viewed collecting ephemera as excavating the waste paper of the recent past. Unlike previous collectors, Johnson collected everything.
He wanted to make “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”.
Johnson succeeded spectacularly but failed to deliver a ‘little museum’ – he assembled about 1.5 million items, divided into 680 subject headings. It is held at the Bodleian Library, the main research library of the University of Oxford.
The term came into use in the 20th century but the material collected is often older
But while the term printed ephemera came into use in the 20th century, it refers to material produced from the 18th century onward.
The great collections like that of John Johnson collection was chiefly made up not of contemporary material but of ‘old material’ with the aim of preserving a record of the past made up chiefly of mainly printed, mainly single sided material.
At the end of 2013, Wikipedia refers to the defining characteristics ephemera as: being transitory; and written or printed. It updates the examples of ephemera with a reference to zines.
It also considers the collection and management of video ephemera.
via What is ephemera?.

The Art of Marbling Books.

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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 up. It is a graphic printmaking process really—no two prints are exactly alike.
In 1881, C. W. Woolnough described marbling as “this pretty, mysterious art.” He also said, “This process is not very easy to describe, and yet to anyone beholding it for the first time it appears extremely simple and easy to perform, yet the difficulties are many, and the longer one practices it, the more he becomes convinced that there is ample room for fresh discoveries and more interesting results than any that have yet been accomplished.”
In recent decades, modern marblers have indeed done wonderfully interesting things with the process, ranging from beautifully crafted classic designs to representational images and scenes . . . fish, flowers, landscapes, all sorts of things. An article I wrote for the August 1978 issue of American Artist magazine (oftentimes available on eBay) details the basic process, and shows a few examples.
The naming of marbled paper designs is complex and confusing. Names have been assigned over the past two or three centuries variously in various places. Many patterns are commonly known by several different names.
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More Images to be seen via Marbling | Sheaff : ephemera.

Solar Printing Press.

Screen shot 2011-01-23 at 2Photo: Printing press driven by the heat rays of the sun.
On  6 August 1882, Monsieur Abel Pifre, a French Engineer, demonstrated the solar engine invented by him at a meeting of the Union Francaise de la Jeunesse held at the Jardin des Tuileries in Paris.
It consisted of a concave mirror 3.5 metres in diameter, in the focus of which there is placed a cylindrical steam boiler equipped with a safety valve.
The steam generated by the reflected sun-rays actuates a small vertical engine of 2/5 horse power driving a Marioni type printing-press.
Although the sun lacked power and the sky was frequently overcast, the press operated continuously from 1.00 pm to 5.30 pm turning out an average of five hundred copies per hour of a journal which was especially made up for the occasion and appropriately called Soleil-Journal.
Previously Pifre had demonstrated that 50 litres of water could be brought to boil in less than 50 minutes, after which the pressure of the steam increased one atmosphere every eight minutes.
There is little doubt that such a solar engine will be a boon to the population of hot areas which so often suffer from a shortage of fuel.
via Metal Type – Solar Powered Printing Press.