Letterpress & Binding Studio

Elements in Correlation

Printing with the handpress at Heavenly Monkey
Rollin Milroy (Heavenly Monkey 2009)

A survey of 20th century literature on the aesthetics of printing damp: what Gabriel Rummonds has called the “natural affinity,” or unique interaction, between the handpress, dampened handmade paper, and hand inking that results in type printed with a crispness unsurpassed by any other method.

Rather than a manual concerned with how to print on dampened paper, the text draws on sources such as Eric Gill, Porter Garnett, William Everson and Harry Duncan to focus on why. The essay that forms the core of the bulk – the discussion of damp printing – focuses on how changes in printing methods and materials over the past century are (and are not) reflected in contemporary letterpress publishing.

Differences in printing techniques (primarily the results of dry vs damp) are illustrated by four sample leaves spanning four centuries interspersed through the essay: one sample of early printing (Praestantium Ac Eruditorum Vivorvm Epistoae Et Theologoicae, Henriuvm Dendrinvm, Amsterdam 1670); a leaf from a mid-19th century book that combined steelpoint illustration with (dry) letterpress on a coated "art paper” of the period (Poems by Jean Ingelow, Longmans, Green, Reader, & Dyer, London 1867); a leaf from a book printed damp under Bruce Rogers’ direction at the Riverside Press (Urne-Buriall, or A Discourse of the Sepulchrall Urnes lately found in Norfolk by Sir Thomas Browne, 1907); and a leaf from a book printed dry on handmade paper (Gold: Its Properties, Modes Of Extraction, Values, &c., &c. by F. G. Claudet, Robert Reid & Takao Tanabe 1958).

Elements in Correlation also includes a revised version of papermaker Reg Lissel's profile that originally appeared in Parenthesis (accompanied by a newly commissioned linocut portrait of Reg by Andrea Taylor); a brief concluding chapter on the influence of the Doves Press (previously published as You Can’t Choose Your Progeny, HM 2008); and a full bibliography.

The book (8 x 12 inches, 40 pages plus samples) was printed by the author with the HM handpress, on dampened sheets of HM Text paper made specially for this project. The text is set in Dante and Dante Titling, and printed in two colors (the image shown at the top of this page is a position proof showing the half title, part of the title page, and part of the table of contents). The edition of 40 copies was issued in two states:

The Deluxe copies (numbers 1–15) include a sample of Doves Press printing bound in with Chapter Three (duplicates from HM’s collection of notices, prospectuses and other ephemera); a section of papers made by Reg (linen, kozo, gampi and vellum); and a bound-in copy of the linocut portrait of Reg Lissel printed chine collé and editioned by the artist, Andrea Taylor. The binding is identical to the Press copies, but these copies are housed in a matching clamshell box. The Deluxe copies are signed by the author, Reg Lissel, Andrea Taylor and Claudia Cohen.

The Press copies (numbers 16–40) are quarter-bound in leather by Claudia Cohen. She has created a unique paste paper for the boards, incorporating a repeating calligraphic HM pattern. These copies have been signed by artist Andrea Taylor.

By advance order, patrons were able to have a deluxe copy extra-bound in full leather by Claudia, with a traycase. Numbers 1–5 were bound and issued thus. These copies are embellished with the HM device in gilt and rules on the boards and (leather) doublures; the special paste paper created for the project by Claudia is used for the endpapers. These copies also include at the front a leaf of Reg Lissel’s semi-transparent vellum paper (discussed in Chapter One) printed damp with a brief statement of limitation.

There also are ten contributor copies (I–X). The first two have been fully bound, one for the printer and one for the binder. The remaining 8 copies were sewn up at the studio and put into a printed limp vellum paper case, for private distribution.

Elements in Correlation

Printing with the Handpress at Heavenly Monkey

Printing with the Handpress at Heavenly Monkey

Printing with the Handpress at Heavenly Monkey