The ‘Adana Agency’ was founded in 1922 in Twickenham by Donald Affleck Aspinall.
Adana was distinguished by catering for the hobby letterpress printer, at a time when some suppliers did not approve of the hobby printer.
The type founder Caslon stated that ‘We are not among those who are alarmed at the increase in amateur printing in this country, though we will not encourage it.’
The first official Adana machines were advertised in November 1922 in the Exchange and Mart.
The machine was a development on the Parlour Presses of the late Victorian period, and retailed for 45/- (£2.25).
Over its life, Adana made different types of machines — the unique flatbed machines (like the Adana QH or Adana HQ); treadle and powered presses; and their famous lever presses.
Adana also supplied specialist show card presses (for display boards); and sundries for the amateur printer.
Adana cast its own type from 1925 and used four Monotype Casters and two Supertype casters. Aspinall, who had no formal engineering or business training, has a number of patents, including one for Adana’s wire gauge pins.
As well as being used for hobby printers, Adana presses found their way into other spheres — education, occupational health and light industry. A fleet of Adanas was used by the Leeds Permanent Building Society to over-print pass books.
Their most well-known machine is probably the Adana Eight-Five.At its height, the firm had agents across the globe; and branch offices in London and Manchester.
In 1996, after changing hands many times, Adana was absorbed into Caslon. That firm still sells some Adana supplies, but the last new machine was sold in 1999 by their agent in Japan.
Harris’s List of Covent Garden Ladies, published from 1757 to 1795, was an annual directory of prostitutes then working in Georgian London. A small, attractive pocketbook, it was printed and published in Covent Garden, and sold for two shillings and sixpence.
A contemporary report of 1791 estimates that it sold about 8,000 copies annually.
Each edition contains entries which describe the physical appearance and sexual specialities of about 120–190 prostitutes who worked in and around Covent Garden.
Through their erotic prose, the lists’ entries review some of these women in lurid detail.
While most compliment their subjects, some are critical of bad habits, and a few women are even treated as pariahs, perhaps having fallen out of favour with the lists’ authors, who are never revealed.
Samuel Derrick is the man normally credited for the design of Harris’s List, possibly having been inspired by the activities of a Covent Garden pimp, Jack Harris.
A Grub Street hack, Derrick may have written the lists from 1757 until his death in 1769; thereafter, the annual’s authors are unknown.
Throughout its print run it was published pseudonymously by H. Ranger, although from the late 1780s it was actually printed by three men, John and James Roach, and John Aitkin.
As the public’s opinion began to turn against London’s sex trade, and with reformers petitioning the authorities to take action, those involved in the release of Harris’s List were in 1795 fined and imprisoned.
That year’s edition was therefore the last to be published, although by then its content was less euphemistic, lacking the originality of earlier editions. Modern writers tend to view Harris’s List as erotica; in the words of one author, it was designed for “solitary sexual enjoyment”.
Stretching from the West End to the City, the coffee-houses of 17th and 18th century London formed the capital’s intellectual and social heartbeat.
Coffee, a relatively new and exotic import, was only half the attraction: coffee-houses were forums for intellectual discussion, havens for dirty business deals and places where lords and sharpers won and lost enormous fortunes.
When coffee-houses first appeared in London in the mid-17th century they were largely indistinguishable from one another.
However, as they faced ever-stiffer competition over time, each coffee-house developed its own character, playing host to diverse clienteles and catering to different needs.
Some coffee-houses became so closely identified with specific groups or interests that Tatler, an early newspaper-journal, decided to group its stories under the names of coffee-houses.
The first issue, in 1709, proclaimed that “all accounts of Gallantry, Pleasure, and Entertainment shall be under the Article of White’s Chocolate-house; Poetry, under that of Will’s Coffee-house; Learning, under the title of Graecian; Foreign and Domestick News, you will have from St James’ Coffee-house”.
There were many coffee-houses frequented by literary men, the first famous one being Will’s Coffee House in Covent Garden.
John Dryden and his literary circle, known as the ‘Wits’, gathered there to discuss and review the latest plays and poems, and to read out their own work. As well as serious literary criticism, much amusement was to be had over the latest scurrilous pamphlets.
Samuel Pepys records having heard a “very witty and pleasant discourse” at Will’s, though whether this was about weighty matters of allegory and hexameters, or gossip about Charles II’s latest mistress, he doesn’t say.
After Dryden’s death, Will’s began to decline: in April 1709, Steele lamented in Tatler that “this place is very much altered since Mr. Dryden frequented it; where you used to see Songs, Epigrams, and Satires, in the Hands of every Man you met, you have only now a Pack of Cards, and instead of the Cavils about the Turn of the Expression, the Elegance of the Style, and the like, the Learned now dispute only about the Truth of the Game”.