Twelve by Eight Press, 1965.
Designed and printed by Will Carter at the Rampant Lions Press for the Twelve by Eight Press.
Published – the colophon states – in an edition of less than 400 copies.
This exceptionally attractive book, beautifully designed and printed for John Mason’s Twelve by Eight Press by Will Carter, is a must for anyone with a penchant for Rigby Graham illustrations, handmade papers, or even both.
The illustrations, which are some of my favourites by the artist, are pen drawings (with some additional overlaid textures) printed from line blocks. They are all immaculately reproduced on the pages, and are more than fine enough to make anyone ‘sniffy’ about line block illustration rethink their opinions.
As well as the visual feast of its typography and illustrations, it is a book of great tactile beauty. This is due to it having been printed on a mixture of various handmade papers of different colours, textures and weight. These papers – from Millbourn, Wookey Hole, Barcham Green and the publishers’ own Twelve by Eight – make me desperately wish that the mills responsible were still in production. Alas, they are not, and getting hold of such beautiful stock now is extremely difficult.
The text, set in the ever-handsome Bembo, is a free translation by Oliver Bayldon of Papyrus, a seventeenth-century Latin poem by Father Imberdis S.J. of Ambert, the paper making district of the Auvergne in France. It is a most enjoyable piece that Rigby Graham’s illustrations suit extremely well.
Finally, there has to be mention of the title page spread, printed on a lovely pale green-grey Barcham Green handmade. The setting, with its large scarlet Bembo capitals, and the bold black and turquoise illustration facing it, is easily one of the finest in my collection.
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