Mandeville Press, 1988.
Designed and printed by Peter Scupham and John Mole at Mandeville Press.
Published in an unknown number of standard copies (Mandeville editions tended to be around 250-350 copies), plus 6 specials.
This is the first new item to be added to my Mandeville Press collection for quite a while now, but what a wonderful edition it is, and one that I’ve been after for several years.
The Mandeville Press, a private press ran by poets Peter Scupham and John Mole in my home town of Hitchin, was the source of a great many editions of new modern poetry from the mid 1970s to the early 1990s. Although the productions weren’t exactly fine press (which they were never meant to be), they were always attractive items that were well designed and decently printed. The materials were always of a good quality, and the presswork was always reasonable. This was letterpress for the enjoyment of the process rather than trying to be the finest of printers, as neither of the proprietors wished to create anything too precious.
This collection from Patric Dickinson is one I’ve had for quite a while in its unillustrated, paper-covered published edition, but I was aware of the existence of six special hardbound copies with a tipped-in etching by George Szirtes. There is a BBC documentary filmed in the late 1980s about the Mandeville Press called A Dragon’s Print, featuring a section on Szirtes creating an illustration for A Sun Dog, which was in the process of being printed at the time. In the documentary, the collection was set to feature the etching shown in the image on the right, but apparently the poet wasn’t much for it so the edition got printed without it. Being such a fine etching it would have been a huge waste not to make any use of it, so six special copies were hardbound and had the etching, signed and numbered by Szirtes, tipped in.
Having found out about the existence of these specials a few years ago, it became one of those rarities on my wants list. I didn’t think I’d stand any real chance of getting one, but recently I was asked by someone who owned a copy whether I would do some design work for them, and what such would cost. I thought I’d try my luck and ask whether they would part with the book as payment. To my surprise, the answer was yes, so I am now the happy and proud owner of this wonderful volume.
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