A side venture or two

We're hoping the artistic printing blog will become a forum for discussing late 19th century design in general and a showcase for various oddities we've come across.
Please send along your comments and queries.


The Handy Book of Artistic Printing web site
is active
featuring illustrative excerpts, and useful information

plus a handsome

Men of Artistic Printing


Artistic printing and my return

Over the past several months I tried to forget my failings here by losing myself, instead, in the long-term project Doug and I have have been slaving over:

The Handy Book of Artistic Printing
A Collection of Letterpress Examples
with Specimens of
Type, Ornament,
Corner Fills, Borders,
Wrinklers, and
other Freaks of Fancy

Our book is published, a web site is coming soon, a postcard is on the way and

a (FREE!) talk
scheduled for Tuesday, May 26, 6pm at the Grolier Club (
47 East 60th Street).

A background note: The history of design has, with just a few notable exceptions, skipped over the late nineteenth century. One could be forgiven for believing that the history of design and publishing went something like this:

Gutenberg... Caslon... William Morris....French advertising posters... Modernism....

We did what in publishing jargon
is sometimes called a "micro-history." Instead of Cod or Salt we chose Artistic Printing, the elaborate style of commercial letterpress printing popular ca. 1870s-1890. We've taken a piece of obscure cultural arcana and tried to reason that, well, it's not so obscure after all— or it shouldn’t be. Artistic printing was popular taste. It drew upon, and helped perpetuate, motifs that show up in other decorative arts of the time. In certain ways the style allowed for, and encouraged, design freedom and experimentation. Artistic printing showcases some of the more adventurous typographic play made to that date and many of the oddest conceptions of page arrangements ever.
Since it was allied
neither with high art or nor fine book publishing, there has been an academic snobbism about this style’s commercial “taint.” That is changing...


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