Script/Print/Code: the information revolution in one afternoon

Bodleian Library, Douce Woodblocks d.1, detail
Bodleian Library, Douce Woodblocks d.1, detail

On Monday 11 October 2021 in the Bodleian’s Weston Library for Special Collections there will be a race between The Oxford Scribes , the Bodleian Bibliographical Press, and the Centre for Digital Scholarship.

This webpage, script-print-code.info, tells the story.

This is a chance to compare script, print, and electronic text encoding side-by-side, in real time. The text will be written in manuscript, printed in movable type, and encoded by three teams, starting at 1pm.

In this blogpost we’ll report on the progress and the thoughts of the scribes, printers and encoders as they work through the same text, a portion of Psalm 107 (‘… They that go down to the sea in ships …’), to create a published version, in one or many copies.

Onlookers are welcome in Blackwell Hall, the main public foyer of the Weston Library on Broad Street, Oxford.

The event is in honour of the start of the Lyell Lectures 2021, The Genesis, Life, and Afterlife of the Gutenberg Bible, which will be given by Paul S. Needham, beginning on 11 October 2021. Details in the event listing include links to watch the livestream of these lectures. The lectures will be recorded and will be available a short time after the conclusion of the series, at https://visit.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/event/the-lyell-lectures

A webpage showing many digitized copies of the Gutenberg Bible, for comparison, is available here.

Here is the webpage for this event:

The long influence of William Morris and the Kelmscott Press

Bodleian MS. Laud Lat. 102, a ninth-century manuscript rebound at the Bodleian LibraryBodleian MS. Laud Lat. 102, a ninth-century manuscript rebound at the Bodleian Library

Marking International Kelmscott Press Day on Saturday 26 June 2021, Bodleian Special Collections are counting some of the ways that William Morris’s knowledge and love of the book arts has contributed to library collections and expertise, up to the present day. (For more on this topic, join a lecture by Laura Cleaver, co-hosted online by the William Morris Society UK and the Institute of English Studies, University of London, ‘Medieval Manuscripts and Private Presses: William Morris and his Followers as Collectors and Creators of Books c. 1891-1914.’)

Bodleian Libraries Kelmscott Press d.6, The history of Reynard the Foxe
Bodleian Libraries Kelmscott Press d.6, The history of Reynard the Foxe

Morris’s devotion to book design was a deciding factor in the establishment of the Kelmscott Press, and this History of Reynard the Foxe (1892), reprinted from William Caxton, is one of the editions inspiring the forthcoming exhibition, ‘North Sea Crossings’, which will open at the Weston Library in November. But the influence of Morris is present in less visible ways, too.

Saddle stitching linking the cover to the text-block
Bodleian MS. Laud Lat. 102, Saddle stitching linking the cover to the text-block

Morris’s interest in the crafts of book making also included bookbinding and his work with T.J. Cobden-Sanderson (1840-1922) and the Doves Bindery, and his designs for the de-luxe binding of the Kelmscott Chaucer (1896) are well known. Much less well known is the profound influence that his choice of materials would have on future developments in book conservation and the rebinding of medieval parchment manuscripts. Described by Sydney Cockerell (1867-1962) in June 1896 as “a specially-designed binding which has been executed in white pigskin […] inside the skin are oak boards”, the choice of medieval bookbinding materials for the Kelmscott Chaucer was not obvious or entirely approved of by Cobden-Sanderson. Although Morris designed the binding in consultation with Cobden-Sanderson, the work was carried out by Douglas Cockerell (1870-1945) who in turn became the most important binder of his generation. His later conservation and rebinding of the Codex Siniaticus for the British Museum Library in 1935, with oak boards and alum-tawed goatskin, drew upon lessons learnt from the Kelmscott Chaucer and would set the standard for manuscript rebinding and be copied by others for many years. Assisting Cockerell with Codex Siniaticus was Roger Powell (1896-1990), another towering figure in the development of book conservation who would further refine the techniques for rebinding parchment manuscripts with his pioneering work on the Book of Kells for Trinity College, Dublin in 1953 – again bound with oak boards and alum-tawed skins. Powell in turn greatly influenced Chris Clarkson (1938-2017) who worked with him in the late 1960s. Clarkson would later become instrumental in the establishment of the Bodleian’s Conservation Section in the late 1970s and would further refine the techniques of rebinding manuscripts through close observation and appreciation of the structural qualities of surviving medieval bindings. Clarkson trained, encouraged and influenced many book conservators (and many at Bodley) and his approaches continue to be used and developed at the Bodleian today. MS. Laud Lat. 102, a ninth-century manuscript from Fulda, was recently expertly conserved and rebound in oak boards covered with alum-tawed calfskin by Sabina Pugh – the latest in the line reaching back to Morris.

Morris took an active role in the craft of book making. One statement of this commitment was given in the lecture, ‘On the woodcuts of Gothic books,’ available to read online from the William Morris Online Archive,

I cannot help feeling that it would be a good thing for artists who consider designing part of their province (I admit there are very few such artists) to learn the art of wood-engraving, which, up to a certain point, is a far from difficult art; at any rate for those who have the kind of eyes suitable for the work. I do not mean that they should necessarily always cut their own designs, but that they should be able to cut them. They would thus learn what the real capacities of the art are…

Matchbox art by Peter Lawrence, Engraver's Gallery
Peter Lawrence, Engraver’s Gallery (2015)

Peter Lawrence‘s ‘Engraver’s Gallery’ (2015), featured in a 3D rendition in the digital repository Cabinet, is a recent acquisition to the Rare Books collection which featured in a 2019 display ‘Thinking Inside the Box’. This tiny matchbox work repays close inspection. The cover features Morris in the act of wood-engraving (after the drawing by Edward Burne-Jones), shavings scattering around him, as we imagine, in an homage from one wood-engraver to another.

An engaged interest in the craft of making books as a way to appreciate them better, and to learn about the arts of earlier book designers, is the guiding principle of the Bodleian’s Bibliographical Press, where students, schools, and the public can undertake their own experiments to learn ‘the real capacities’ of the arts of printing.

– Andrew Honey and Alex Franklin

‘Extracts. Supplied by a sub-sub-librarian.’ The Melville bicentenary commemoration printing

Libraries and literary institutions around the world in 2019 marked 200 years since Herman Melville’s birth with readings and conferences appreciating his work. At Bodleian Special Collections we took the opportunity to call again on letterpress printers around the world, who provided Shakespeare’s Sonnets in 2016, to celebrate Melville in similar fashion.

Philip Hoare, author of Leviathan, in front of the Weston Library display, ‘Very Like a Whale,’ 15 Nov 2019.  The author hosted a screening of the Arena documentary, The Hunt for Moby-Dick, at the Weston Library. Photo: Cyrus Mower

The text was a section of Moby-Dick often overlooked by readers, part of the preliminaries in which Melville introduces the multifarious themes of the work. Eighty extracts are arranged approximately chronologically.  Melville writes of his fictional sub-sub-librarian: ‘this mere painstaking burrower and grubworm … appears to have gone through the long Vaticans and street-stalls of the earth, picking up whatever random allusions to whales he could anyways find in any book.’ And yet, stealthily, these extracts of everything from the Bible to ‘Nantucket songs’ build a dramatic foreshadowing of the destiny of Ishmael and his shipmates.

They bear testimony to the value of collections encompassing a wide variety of texts — devotional works, learned legal treatises, great literature and sea shanties. To join its copy of the first (London) edition published under the title The Whale, the Bodleian now holds a new, collective, version of this section of Melville’s famous novel.

The bulk of the prints received are reproduced here. It is impossible to convey in digital images the quality of the craft and the satisfying variety of the physical items received.  One detail must stand for the excellence of these pieces; it is from Richard Kegler’s Extract 13.

Richard Kegler, P22 Press, Rochester, NY; detail from Extract 13: Tanned fish skin printed in silver ink. “Bubbles” printed with wood type dots and Os from 48pt Zeppelin Type.

In addition to printing using various methods (see No. 49) and materials (see No. 13), the printers have incorporated into their works (sometimes literally, see No. 63) the publishing history of Moby-Dick, the ecological crisis of the oceans, awareness of historical racism and the dangerous pace of human exploitation of natural resources on land and in the oceans. Melville’s choice of sources did not go beyond the publication year of the novel in 1851, but many of the themes remain current. To update the ‘Extracts,’ the Bodleian gladly accepted an offer from the volunteers of The National Museum of Computing, to print additional ‘Extracts’ about whales, using their collection of 20th-century printers.

The first extract, from the St James Park Press, begins the series with the title, ‘Moby Dick Extracts’.

Extract 1 James Freemantle, St. James Park Press, London
1. ‘‘And God created great whales.’ – Genesis. // James Freemantle, St James Park Press, London. Wood-engraving by Garrick Palmer.
2. ‘Leviathan maketh a path to shine after him; One would think the deep to be hoary.’ – Job.  //Samantha King, Red Eel Press, Leeds. ‘Letterpress printed on a Farley No.11 proofing press; Kitakata Natural made in Japan, 33gsm; Centaur, 12pt. Stock: Canson Mi-Tientese, slate grey, 160gsm; Ornamental border: Monotype 319/320, 24pt. This border is not only the pressmark of the Red Eel Press but if you look closely … it is full of Leviathan/whales’
5. ‘In that day, the Lord with his sore, and great, and strong sword, shall punish Leviathan the piercing serpent, even Leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.’ – Isaiah.  //  Peter Cartwright and Ann Pillar, The Lock-up Press, Walsall. Letterpress on 100gsm orange cartridge using a variety of wood and metal type. On a Farley proofing press (c. 1955)
6. ‘The Indian Sea breedeth the most and the biggest fishes that are: among which the Whales and Whirlpooles called Balæne, take up as much in length as four acres or arpens of land.’ – Holland’s Pliny. // Rosie Fairfax-Cholmeley, The Wytham Studio, Oxford
9. ‘He visited this country also with a view of catching horse-whales, which had bones of very great value for their teeth, of which he brought some to the king.  *  *  *  The best whales were catched in his own country, of which some were forty-eight, some fifty yards long. He said that he was one of six who had killed sixty in two days.’ – Other or Octher’s verbal narrative taken down from his mouth by King Alfred, A.D. 890.  //  Iain Potter, Oxford Printmakers Cooperative. Linocut; Pfeffer Mediaeval; 1828 Albion Relief Press. Extract in Anglo-Saxon, image incorporating the Alfred Jewel.
10. ‘And whereas all the other things, whether beast or vessel, that enter into the dreadful gulf of this monster’s (whale’s) mouth, are immediately lost and swallowed up, the sea-gudgeon retires into it in great security, and there sleeps.’ – Montaigne’s Apology for Raimond Sebond.  // Emily Martin, Iowa. Letterpress and pastepaint; Type: Baskerville; Paper: Johannot paper
11. ‘Let us fly, let us fly! Old Nick take me if is not Leviathan described by the noble prophet Moses in the life of patient Job.’ – Rabelais. // photo from Michael Simons, Devil’s Pi Press
12. ‘This whale’s liver was two cart-loads.’ – Stowe’s Annals. // Brian Wood, Dogs and Stars Press
13. ‘The great Leviathan that maketh the seas to seethe like boiling pan.’ – Lord Bacon’s Version of the Psalms. // Richard Kegler, P22 Press, Rochester, NY. Letterpress printed on Curious Cosmic Pulsar Red stock with a Vandercook Universal III. Tanned fish skin printed in silver ink. “Bubbles” printed with wood type dots and Os from 48pt Zeppelin Type. Quote hand-set in 14pt American Uncial. Colophon printed in 8pt Oldstyle Extended.
14. ‘Touching that monstrous bulk of the whale or ork we have received nothing certain. They grow exceeding fat, insomuch that an incredible quantity of oil will be extracted out of one whale.’ – Lord Bacon, History of Life and Death. // Robert Rowe, Gold Quoin Press, Peoria, Illinois. Linoleum Cut, Hand-set lead type, photopolymer plate, and drypoint engraving; Typeface: Goudy Oldstyle, Printed on a Vandercook #4. Drypoint was included in this piece as a reference to scrimshaw, a traditional art form among the whalers.
15. ‘The sovereignest thing on earth is parmacetti for an inward bruise.’ – King Henry. // Jessica Spring, Springtide Press, Tacoma
16. ‘Very like a whale.’ – Hamlet.  // Adam Smyth, The 39 Step Press, Elsfield. Read about the process here. https://www.39steppress.co.uk/very-like-a-whale
18. ‘Immense as whales, the motion of whose vast bodies can in a peaceful calm trouble the ocean till it boil.’ – Sir William Davenant’s Preface to Gondibert.  //  Alexandra Chappell and Jeff Groves, The First-floor Press, Claremont Colleges Library, California. Printed on a cast-iron hand press from hand-set metal type. Columbian hand-press, manufactured by R Ritchie & Son, Edinburgh, c. 1850. 1/2 of the edition printed on Somerset Satin White and 1/2 printed on Stonehenge Grey. Extract and colophon types: 48, 24, 14 10 point Baskerville. Whalestrom types: 72pt Baskerville lower case; 48pt Baskerville lower case; 48pt Alt Gothic caps; 36pt Cloister Text caps; 36pt Cheltenham Condensed caps; 30pt Lydian caps; 24pt Thompson Quill Script caps; 24pt Caslon 540 caps; 24pt Bodoni Book italic lower case; 18pt unlabeled gothic; 18pt Shaded Scroll; 18pt Goudy modern lower case; 18pt Banker Gothic; 14pt Cloister Text caps; 14pt Bodoni italic caps; 14pt Baskerville caps; 12tp Lydian caps; 12pt Large Comstock; 12pt Gothic Outlline; 10pt Typewriter caps; 8pt Baskerville small cap.
Printing of Extract 18: detail of the ‘whalestrom’ on the press.
19. ‘What spermacetti is, men might justly doubt, since the learned Hosmannus in his work of thirty years, saith plainly, Nescio quid sit.’ – Sir T. Browne’s Of Sperma Ceti and the Sperma Ceti Whale. Vide his V. E.  // Michael and Tia Hurley, Titivilus Press, Memphis, Tennessee. Designed in InDesign CS6 and typeset in Igino Marini’s Fell Great Primer, Fell English and Fell Flowers 1. The illustration is adapted from Andre Thevet’s “Cosmographie Universelle” of 1574. The page was laid out according to Tschichold’s “Golden Canons of Page Construction”. Letterpress printed by hand on a 1915 Golding Jobber No. 7 from photopolymer plates on Neenah Environment Quest Ivory 80# Cover in Opaque White, PMS 485 Red and Black inks. The plates were manufactured by Concord Engraving, Concord, New Hampshire.
20. ‘Like Spencer’s Talus with his modern flail /He threatens ruin with his ponderous tail. … Their fixed jav’lins in his side he wears, / And on his back a grove of pikes appears.’ – Waller’s Battle of the Summer Islands.  //  Robin Wilson, The Wytham Studio, Oxford
21. ‘By art is created that great Leviathan, called a Common-wealth or State—(in Latin, Civitas) which is but an artificial man.’ – Opening sentence of Hobbes’s Leviathan.    //   Matt Kelsey, Camino Press. Letterpress printed using Caslon wood type, and Cooper Black and Bold Antique metal type, engraving reprinted via polymer on Ingres Bluestone paper, using a Challenge proof press
22. ‘Silly Mansoul swallowed it without chewing, as if it had been a sprat in the mouth of a whale.’ – Pilgrim’s Progress. // Erik Spiekermann, p98a, Berlin. Letterpress on a KORREX proof press. Large type laser-cut plywood. Metal type cast on a Ludlow caster in Tempo Bold. Metapaper Warm White 150g
23. ‘That sea beast /Leviathan, which God of all his works / Created hugest that swim the ocean stream.’ – Paradise Lost. // Elizabeth Adams, Juxon Press, Oxfordshire
24. ‘There Leviathan, /Hugest of living creatures, in the deep / Stretched like a promontory sleeps or swims, /And seems a moving land; and at his gills /Draws in, and at his breath spouts out a sea.’ – Paradise Lost. // The MIT Beaver Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts
25. ‘The mighty whales which swim in a sea of water, and have a sea of oil swimming in them.’ – Fuller’s Profane and Holy State. //  Brittany Starr and Mallory Haselberger, BookLab at University of Maryland. Mixed media (collage and letterpress). Printed on a Line-O-Scribe, Model 1411 on Strathmore printmaking paper using rubber and oil-based ink; includes Jenson, News Gothic and Bookman typefaces with Hamilton wood type
26. ‘So close behind some promontory lie /  The huge Leviathan to attend their prey,/ And give no chance, but swallow in the fry, /  Which through their gaping jaws mistake the way.’ – Dryden’s Annus Mirabilis. // Michael Daniell, Atlantis Press, Oxford. Letterpress. Caslon and Monotype Glint. Printed on a Furnival Express treadle platen press
27. ‘While the whale is floating at the stern of the ship, they cut off his head, and tow it with a boat as near the shore as it will come; but it will be aground in twelve or thirteen feet water.’ – Thomas Edge’s Ten Voyages to Spitzbergen, in Purchas. // Daisy Davis, Ashvale Press, Isles of Scilly; printed at the Bodleian Bibliographical Press. Letterpress and linocut.
28. ‘In their way they saw many whales sporting in the ocean, and in wantonness fuzzing up the water through their pipes and vents, which nature has placed on their shoulders.’ – Sir T. Herbert’s Voyages into Asia and Africa. Harris Coll. // Frazil Press. Letterpress and linocut; Gill Sans 8pt, 12pt, Gill Sans Italic 12pt; Neenah paper: Classic Linen Bare White 80lb Text Adana 8 x 5.
29. ‘Here they saw such huge troops of whales, that they were forced to proceed with a great deal of caution for fear they should run their ship upon them.’ – Schouten’s Sixth Circumnavigation.  // Richard Cappuccio, Center for the Book, University of Virginia. Wood type, metal type (32pt Lydian), printed on a Vandercook proof press.

Students from the University of Arkansas answered the ‘Extracts’ call as a class project at the Underground Ink Press, the letterpress and book arts workshop at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith.

32. ‘Myself have agreed to try whether I can master and kill this Sperma-ceti whale, for I could never hear of any of that sort that was killed by any man, such is his fierceness and swiftness.’ – Richard Strafford’s Letter from the Bermudas. Phil. Trans. A.D. 1668. // Emily Carrington-Freeman, Oxford. Lino cut & oil-based ink (1/4 with gold leaf)
33. ‘Whales in the sea / God’s voice obey.’ – N.E. Primer. // Jonathan Senchyne, Easy Hill Press, University of Wisconsin. Letterpress, Optima Italic metal type, 8 line wood type. Engraving and copy of the original by Reynolds Stone. Printed on a Vandercook 325G
34. ‘We saw also abundance of large whales, there being more in those southern seas, as I may say, by a hundred to one; than we have to the northward of us.’ – Captain Cowley’s Voyage round the Globe, A.D. 1729. //  Larry Hale, Glasgow Press. Letterpress print; Paper: Wild 450gsm; Vandercook Proof Press
35.  ‘… and the breath of the whale is frequently attended with such an insupportable smell, as to bring on a disorder of the brain.’ – Ulloa’s South America.  // Elizabeth Fraser, Frauhaus Press, Cambridge. Handset letterpress. Blind deboss using wood and metal type. Whale created from face and back of woodtype with ornaments for eye and spout. Text 12pt & 6pt Baskerville italic. Whale breath 12pt glint (Monotype B1309 & B1310). Printed on Somerset Velvet 300gsm soft white paper with a tabletop flatbed proofing press
36. ‘To fifty chosen sylphs of special note, / We trust the important charge, the petticoat. / Oft have we known that seven-fold fence to fail, / Tho’ stuffed with hoops and armed with ribs of whale.’ – Rape of the Lock. // Roy Watkins, Embers Handpress. Small letterpress (Adana flatbed 9×7); linocuts with Garamond; Japanese Gampi vellum
38. ‘If you should write a fable for little fishes, you would make them speak like great whales.’ – Goldsmith to Johnson. // Angie Butler, ABPress. Letterpress and pochoir printed on 280gsm (size: 21″ x 15″; 53.5 x 38 cms); Somerset Newsprint Grey. Caslon 72pt wood-letter. Printed on a Vandercook No. 4
39. ‘In the afternoon we saw what was supposed to be a rock, but it was found to be a dead whale, which some Asiatics had killed, and were then towing ashore. They seemed to endeavour to conceal themselves behind the whale, in order to avoid being seen by us.’ – Cook’s Voyages. // Andrea Hewes, Oxford Printmakers Co-operative
41a. ‘The Spermacetti Whale found by the Nantuckois, is an active, fierce animal, and requires vast address and boldness in the fishermen.’ – Thomas Jefferson’s Whale Memorial to the French Minister in 1778. // Emeline Marcelin, Bodleian Bibliographical Press, Oxford
41b. ‘The Spermacetti Whale found by the Nantuckois, is an active, fierce animal, and requires vast address and boldness in the fishermen.’ – Thomas Jefferson’s Whale Memorial to the French Minister in 1778. // John Benson, Ormpress. Letterpress and linocut printed on a 5″ x 8″ Excelsior Kelsey Press. Type: Bodoni Bold 18pt; Bodoni Bold Italic 18pt. Paper: Fabriano Tiziano 160gsm
42. ‘And pray, sir, what in the world is equal to it?’ – Edmund Burke’s Reference in Parliament to the Nantucket Whale Fishery.  // Stephanie Newman, Faux Pas Press, Bozeman, Montana. Letterpress: photopolymer plates, Vandercook No. 3 proof press; Crane Lettra paper, Kozo chine colle, rubber base ink
43. ‘Spain—a great whale stranded on the shores of Europe.’ – Edmund Burke. (Somewhere.)  //  Miles Wigfield, Reading Room Press, Gloucestershire. Letterpress: Albion; Type: Goudy Cloister Initials and Imprint Shadow on Zerkall Ingres paper. Commemorates the centenary of the Society of Wood Engravers.
44. ‘A tenth branch of the king’s ordinary revenue, said to be grounded on the consideration of his guarding and protecting the seas from pirates and robbers, is the right to royal fish, which are whale and sturgeon. And these, when either thrown ashore or caught near the coast, are the property of the king.’ – Blackstone.   // Olivia Lefley, Northamptonshire. Letterpress, linocut. Printed on a Westen proofing press. Modern 20 typeface. Paper provided by G F Smith
46. ‘Bright shone the roofs, the domes, the spires, /  And rockets blew self driven, / To hang their momentary fire /  Around the vault of heaven. // ‘So fire with water to compare, /  The ocean serves on high, / Up-spouted by a whale in air, /   To express unwieldy joy.’ – Cowper, On the Queen’s Visit to London.  // John G Henry, Cedar Creek Press. Letterpress (2 colours) & embossing; Reeves Heavyweigh Gray Paper; printed on a Vandercook Universal III press
47. ‘Ten or fifteen gallons of blood are thrown out of the heart at a stroke, with immense velocity.’ – John Hunter’s Account of the Dissection of a Whale. (A small-sized one.) // Elpitha Tsoutsounakis, Salt Lake City, Utah. Letterpress on Savoy/Vandercook III; watercolour with ochre from the San Rafael Swell
49. ‘The whale is a mammiferous animal without hind feet.’ – Baron Cuvier. // Arcangela Regis, Lauren Press, Barcelona, Spain. Monoprint (footprints in acrylic); Letterpress printing with woodtype on an Albion Press; Invercote Creato 290gr 64x92cm
50. ‘In the free element beneath me swam, /Floundered and dived, in play, in chace, in battle, / Fishes of every colour, form, and kind; / Which language cannot paint, and mariner / Had never seen; from dread Leviathan / To insect millions peopling every wave: / Gather’d in shoals immense, like floating islands, / Led by mysterious instincts through that waste /And trackless region, though on every side / Assaulted by voracious enemies, / Whales, sharks, and monsters, arm’d in front or jaw, /With swords, saws, spiral horns, or hooked fangs.’ – Montgomery’s World Before the Flood. // Randolph Chilton, In Which Press, Nevada City, California. Letterpress: Chandler and Price Old Style 10×15; typefaces mainly 14pt Caslon Old Style 337, 36pt Huxley Vertical, six-line 19th century English and-carved wood block (colophon mainly 12pt Caslon); paper #110 Rives BFK
52. ‘Io! Pæan! Io! sing, / To the finny people’s king. / Not a mightier whale than this / In the vast Atlantic is; / Not a fatter fish than he, / Flounders round the Polar Sea.’ – Charles Lamb’s Triumph of the Whale. // Lauren Williams, Book Arts Lab, McGill University Library, Montreal. Letterpress; printed on a Farley Proofing Press, in 18pt Bembo, on Canson paper
53. ‘In the year 1690 some persons were on a high hill observing the whales spouting and sporting with each other, when one observed; there—pointing to the sea—is a green pasture where our children’s grand-children will go for bread.’ – Obed Macy’s History of Nantucket.  // Bob Oldham, Ad Lib Press, Turrialba, Costa Rica. Handset type on poured pulp paper, printed on home-made Medhurst press
54. ‘I built a cottage for Susan and myself and made a gateway in the form of a Gothic Arch, by setting up a whale’s jaw bones.’ – Hawthorne’s Twice-Told Tales.  //  Sarah Teppen, Bone Earring Press, East Lansing, Michigan. Letterpress, linocut (original); Stonehenge warm white paper, C&P 8×12, Type: Berhardt Gothic Medium
55. ‘She came to bespeak a monument for her first love, who had been killed by a whale in the Pacific ocean, no less than forty years ago.’ – Hawthorne’s Twice-Told Tales. // Chloe Foster, Chloe Arielle Studio, Clarkson, Michigan. Printed on a Kelsey 3×5 press.
56. ‘“No, Sir, ’tis a Right Whale,” answered Tom; “I saw his spout; he threw up a pair of as pretty rainbows as a Christian would wish to look at. He ’s a raal oil-butt, that fellow!” – Cooper’s Pilot.  // Charlie Davies, Oxford Printmakers Cooperative, Oxford. Etching on Fabriano Paper

57. ‘The papers were brought in, and we saw in the Berlin Gazette that whales had been introduced on the stage there.’ – Eckermann’s Conversations with Goethe. // Patrick Goossens, Letter-kunde , Antwerp.

58. ‘“My God! Mr. Chace, what is the matter?” I answered, “We have been stove by a whale.”’- Narrative of the Shipwreck of the Whale Ship Essex of Nantucket, which was attacked and finally destroyed by a large Sperm Whale in the Pacific Ocean. By Owen Chace of Nantucket, first mate of said vessel. New York, 1821. // Andrew Rippeon, The Davidson College Letterpress Lab, North Carolina. Printed using wood and metal type in a variety of sizes and faces (extract: Gothic wood type in various sizes, large metal type from 72pt to 60pt; attribution: from 30pt to 10pt Craw Clarendon; colophon: 10pt Venus Light: magnesium printing die, (review material from The Literacy World); and laser-cut plexiglass plate (whale and pressure-printed ‘waves’). Printed on dampened Stonehenge (Polar White), using a Vandercook #4 (ser. #13096), rescued from a barn in central New York and restored by Andrew Rippeon
59. ‘A mariner sat in the shrouds one night, / The wind was piping free;/ Now bright, now dimmed, was the moonlight pale,/And the phospher gleamed in the wake of the whale,/ As it floundered in the sea.’ – Elizabeth Oakes Smith. // Ryan Cordell, Huskiana Letterpress Studio, Boston. Letterpress with 2 woodcuts, Caslon type (mostly), Golding Pearl #14
60. ‘The quantity of line withdrawn from the boats engaged in the capture of this one whale, amounted altogether to 10,440 yards or nearly six English miles.   …
‘Sometimes the whale shakes its tremendous tail in the air, which, cracking like a whip, resounds to the distance of three or four miles.’ – Scoresby. // Two moveables, a spool and a whip-crack, by Jonathan Bath, Oxford
61. ‘Mad with the agonies he endures from these fresh attacks, the infuriated Sperm Whale rolls over and over; he rears his enormous head, and with wide expanded jaws snaps at everything around him; he rushes at the boats with his head; they are propelled before him with vast swiftness, and sometimes utterly destroyed. …  It is a matter of great astonishment that the consideration of the habits of so interesting, and, in a commercial point of view, so important an animal (as the Sperm Whale) should have been so entirely neglected, or should have excited so little curiosity among the numerous, and many of them competent observers, that of late years, must have possessed the most abundant and the most convenient opportunities of witnessing their habitudes.’ – Thomas Beale’s History of the Sperm Whale. 1839.  //  Martyn Ould, The Old School Press, Seaton. Letterpress text in Hunt Roman on Somerset. Linocuts by John Watson. Printed on a 30-inch Western Proof Press
63. ‘October 13. “There she blows,” was sung out from the mast-head.
  “Where away?” demanded the captain.
  “Three points off the lee bow, sir.”
  “Raise up your wheel. Steady!”
  “Steady, sir.”
  “Mast-head ahoy! Do you see that whale now?”
  “Ay ay, sir! A shoal of Sperm Whales! There she blows! There she breaches!”
  “Sing out! sing out every time!”
  “Ay, ay, sir! There she blows! there—there—thar she blows—bowes—bo-o-o-s!”
  “How far off?”
  “Two miles and a half.”
  “Thunder and lightning! so near! Call all hands.”’ – J. Ross Browne’s Etchings of a Whaling Cruise. 1846. // Paul Hatcher, Allamanda Press, Woodley. Hand-set letterpress and original linocuts. Typeface is Verona. The substrate is hand-cast board made at the press from pulped copies of the 1950s bowdlerised and abridged edition of Moby Dick, published by Collins. Printed using an Adana QH horizontal platen (the poor man’s Albion). There are eight copies in total on this board.
64. ‘The Whale-ship Globe, on board of which vessel occurred the horrid transactions we are about to relate, belonged to the island of Nantucket.’ – Narrative of the Globe Mutiny, by Lay and Hussey, Survivors. A.D. 1828. // Isobel Lewis, The Kelpie Press,  in collaboration with Richard Reitz Smith, Maine, USA; with Marbled paper, Letterpress, collage. Set in Caslon, printed on a Vandercook Universal III.
65. ‘Being once pursued by a whale which he had wounded, he parried the assault for some time with a lance; but the furious monster at length rushed on the boat; himself and comrades only being preserved by leaping into the water when they saw the onset was inevitable.’ – Missionary Journal of Tyerman and Bennett.  // William Rowsell, Oxford Printmakers Cooperative, Oxford. Linocut.
66. ‘Nantucket itself,’ said Mr. Webster, ‘is a very striking and peculiar portion of the National interest. There is a population of eight or nine thousand persons living here in the sea, adding largely every year to the National wealth by the boldest and most persevering industry.’ – Report of Daniel Webster’s Speech in the U.S. Senate, on the Application for the Erection of a Breakwater at Nantucket. 1828.  // Martha Chiplis, Berwyn, Illinois. Letterpress printed from wood type, linoleum, and photopolymer plate. Handmade paper, LTC Cloister (digital type), Vandercook Universal I. Drawing of map based on 1869 historical map of Nantucket.
67. ‘The whale fell directly over him, and probably killed him in a moment.’ – The Whale and his Captors, or the Whaleman’s Adventures and the Whale’s Biography, gathered on the Homeward Cruise of the Commodore Preble. By Rev. Henry T. Cheever. // Elizabeth Moriarty. Linocut.
68. ‘“If you make the least damn bit of noise,” replied Samuel, “I will send you to hell.”’ – Life of Samuel Comstock (the Mutineer), by his Brother, William Comstock. Another Version of the Whale-ship Globe Narrative.  // Christopher Barker, The Smallprint Company, Derby.
69. ‘The voyages of the Dutch and English to the Northern Ocean, in order, if possible, to discover a passage through it to India, though they failed of their main object, laid open the haunts of the whale.’- McCulloch’s Commercial Dictionary.  // Linda Stinchfield, Turtlesilk Press, Los Gatos, California. Letterpress, handset and photopolymer; paper: Flurry Cotton, Boxcar; Typeface: Centaur & Arrighi (italic); Press: Vandercook SP15
70. ‘These things are reciprocal; the ball rebounds, only to bound forward again; for now in laying open the haunts of the whale, the whalemen seem to have indirectly hit upon new clews to that same mystic North-West Passage.’ – From ‘Something’ unpublished.  // James Bradley, Book Arts Collaborative, Indiana. Linocut and letterpress. Printed in Franklin Gothic and Playbill typeface on a Vandercook SP15 press. Reverse side printed in Universe 12pt type on a a Chandler & Price 12×18 press. Mohawk Superfine Ultra-white 65lb cardstock
71. ‘It is impossible to meet a whale-ship on the ocean without being struck by her near appearance. The vessel under short sail, with look-outs at the mast-heads, eagerly scanning the wide expanse around them, has a totally different air from those engaged in regular voyage.’ – Currents and Whaling. U.S. Ex. Ex.  //  Jennifer Farrell, Starshaped Press, Chicago. Letterpress: metal type + rule, linocut. Paper: Fabriano Tiziano. Printed on a Vandercook SP15
72. ‘Pedestrians in the vicinity of London and elsewhere may recollect having seen large curved bones set upright in the earth, either to form arches over gateways, or entrances to alcoves, and they may perhaps have been told that these were the ribs of whales.’ – Tales of a Whale Voyager to the Arctic Ocean.  // Hugh Macfarlane, Tudor Black Press, Marnes, France. Printed on a Cropper treadle press.
73. ‘It was not till the boats returned from the pursuit of these whales, that the whites saw their ship in bloody possession of the savages enrolled among the crew.’ – Newspaper Account of the Taking and Retaking of the Whale-ship Hobomack.   // Rosemary Everett, Gifford, Scotland. ‘Wood engraving. Letterpress, Collage; Lemonwood block; Tosa Washi paper. Printed with a burnisher (wood engraving) and a book press (letterpress). The Extract is cut up and collaged onto the print. This is intended to emphasise the “savagery” of whaling theme. Also the words are jumbled, to reflect the theme of confusion and lack of knowledge and understanding.’
75. ‘Suddenly a mighty mass emerged from the water, and shot up perpendicularly into the air. It was the whale.’ – Miriam Coffin or the Whale Fisherman. // Alexandra Chappell, Pasadena, California. Printed on a cast-iron hand press from hand-set metal and wood types. Press: Columbian hand-press, manufatured by R Ritchie & Son, Edinburgh. Type: 24 line gothic condensed wood type; 48, 30 and 14 point Liberty foundry type. Paper: Somerset Book.
76.  ‘The Whale is harpooned to be sure; but bethink you, how you would manage a powerful unbroken colt, with the mere appliance of a rope tied to the root of his tail.’ – A Chapter on Whaling in Ribs and Trucks. // Armina Ghazaryan, Type & Press, Ghent. Letterpress printed from wood/metal type on FAG TP-510, paper Wild 150gm
77.  ‘On one occasion I saw two of these monsters (whales) probably male and female, slowly swimming, one after the other, within less than a stone’s throw of the shore’ (Terra del Fuego), ‘over which the beech tree extended its branches.’ –  Darwin’s Voyage of a Naturalist.   // Li Jiang, Lemoncheese Press, Berkeley, California. Letterpress, polymer plate. Digital type: Geographica; Paper: Stonehenge White 250gsm; Press: Vandercook SP15 10″ x 15″, 3 colours
78. ‘“Stern all!” exclaimed the mate, as upon turning his head, he saw the distended jaws of a large Sperm Whale close to the head of the boat, threatening it with instant destruction;—“Stern all, for your lives!”’ – Wharton the Whale-Killer. // Kimball Hamilton, Two Left Hands Press, Los Gatos, California. Printed letterpress from photopolymer plates and hand set 12pt Weiss type, on Flurry 1-ply cotton cover, using a 1896 Chandler & Price Old Series 10×15 plated press

79. ‘So be cheery, my lads, let your hearts never fail, / While the bold harpooneer is striking the whale!’ – Nantucket Song. // Arie Koelewyn, The Paper Airplane Press, East Lansing, MI. One version of the verse is here: http://ballads.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/view/edition/24312 

80. ‘Oh, the rare old Whale, mid storm and gale,
  In his ocean home will be
A giant in might, where might is right,
  And King of the boundless sea.’
– Whale song. // Joe Swift, Distant Press. Printed Letterpress from wood and metal type on a Columbian hand press

Post-1851 ‘Extracts’  An exciting offer came from the volunteers at the National Museum of Computing, offering prints from a variety of newer machines:  a 1940s German Lorenz teleprinter, a 1980s ICL computer line printer, and a Braille printer. This offer inspired the library to bring the extracts up to date in 2019, with additional quotations from Rachel Carson’s book, The Sea Around Us (1951), and from  M.P. Simmonds, “Evaluating the Welfare Implications of Climate Change for Cetaceans,” in A. Butterworth (ed.), 2017, Marine Mammal Welfare (17th edition).

Additional Extract: ‘The sperm whale is often marked with long stripes, which consist of a great number of circular scars made by the suckers of the squid. From this evidence we can imagine the battles that go on, in the darkness of the deep water, between these two huge creatures – the sperm whale with its 70-ton bulk, the squid with a body as long as 30 feet, and writhing, grasping arms extending the total length of the animal to perhaps 50 feet.’ – Rachel Carson, The Sea Around Us (1951) // Vickie Heaney, Isles of Scilly. Linocut.

Film of Vtek MBoss-1 Braille Printer/Embosser, from The National Museum of Computing.

A Braille whale – or Whaille.

Braille whale; image courtesy of The National Museum of Computing
‘When it comes to cetaceans, despite their somewhat fishy forms and great variety, it should be easier for us to conceptualise suffering in these intelligent and typically highly social marine mammals. This should enable us to evaluate with more empathy how their welfare is being impacted by human actions and to strive to respond appropriately and compassionately. Climate change gives us an enormous challenge in this (and for human kind more generally), but we are big-brained too, and, hopefully, wisdom and compassion will prevail.’ – M.P. Simmonds // Steve Kay and the Volunteer Supporters’ Association of the National Museum of Computing; on a 1940s German Lorenz teleprinter
M.P. Simmonds // Steve Kay and the Volunteer Supporters’ Association of the National Museum of Computing; on a 1980s ICL line printer

Film of the 1980s ICL Line Printer, from The National Museum of Computing

A display at the Bodleian’s Weston Library for Special Collections in November 2019 marked the arrival of this new collection to the Bodleian.

Printing a leaf at the Bodleian Libraries Bibliographical Press

Printing a leaf at the Bodleian Libraries Bibliographical Press

The Victorians used a technique called ‘nature printing’ to reproduce the details of leaves, plants, and other flat things like lace. This relies on pressing the specimen into soft metal (lead) to make an impression like a footprint of the item, and then making an electrotype of that impression in a harder metal, such as copper. The prints are produced with the intaglio method, in which the ink sits in the impressed areas and is forced into contact with the paper by the high pressure of the rolling press. This contrasts with relief printing, in which ink sits on top of raised lines. Here we have printed directly from the soft lead plate into which the leaf was impressed; the fine details on this lead plate will only last for a couple of impressions, though, before becoming smoothed down by the pressure as it goes through the press.

Learn more about nature printing.

Some examples of nature printing in Bodleian Libraries collections:

Henry Smith, supt. of the government press, Madras, Specimens of nature printing from unprepared plants (1857)

Thomas Moore, The ferns of Great Britain and Ireland (1855) [i.e. 1856]

Re-blog: Papermaking at home

From the History of the Book blog, Here is an inspiring blogpost by DPhil student Luise Morawetz about making paper, starting with making the paper mould itself, and the wonderful sounds of the vat … History of the Book blogpost by Luise Morawetz