Lawrence Sail



With a wood engraving by Christopher Wormell

Gruffyground Press, 1988


Designed by Michael Mitchell and printed by him and Thomas Griffith at the Libanus Press for the Gruffyground Press.

Published in an edition of 130 standard copies, plus 5 copies specially bound in full Oasis goatskin by Lester Capon.


Aquamarine was the first example of printing I encountered that used my favoured ‘deep bite’ style of letterpress. This book, set in the eternally graceful Bembo, is a particularly fine example and is one of my benchmark volumes for fine press. Turning the thick pages and seeing their almost sculptural quality as light plays across the surface to reveal the three-dimensional nature of the presswork is a pleasure. A trade-printed book could never be this stunning; this is art. I can’t see myself wanting to frame a page taken from a modern day trade edition of any book – but a page from this? Absolutely. And I have – framing the title page of a disbound copy for a friend. I might even do the same for myself as, being quite possibly my favourite title page from my collection, it would not look out of place displayed on one of my walls.

I should also mention the none-too-small matter of the text. I am a huge fan of Lawrence Sail’s ‘sea’ poetry, of which this collection is entirely comprised. It is, apart from a pair of poems he wrote for me to publish a couple of years ago, the very best of his work.

Even in its standard form (as is shown in the picture to the right) this item would make my top ten, but I am fortunate enough to own one of the five special copies that the publisher had bound by master bookbinder Lester Capon. It is a simple, but very fine, full navy goatskin binding with platinum lettering along the spine, a purple silk headband and tailband, and endpapers of the same aquamarine Japanese handmade used for the wrappers of the standard copies.



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