Friday, 19th February 2016
I spent much of the week before last in airports and railway stations. First destination was Stuttgart, where I press-passed the illustrations for H. G. Wells’s The Door in the Wall. Given the huge commitment by the photographer Alvin Langdon Coburn in supervising the printing of the original photogravures, I felt especial attention to detail was called for, and had my copy of the original book to hand for reference. The printers, Grammlich, were very helpful and made numerous alterations to the plates to get them as close as possible to the originals. As can be seen in this photo, the backs of the plates are printed with different tints to replicate the different papers chosen by Coburn for each of the plates.
Then I collected the dummy of Dalì’s 1001 Nights from the binder – it is a mighty tome! This photo of the solander box highlights the exquisite calligraphy by Ged Palmer; the other snap shows Dalì’s signature blocked onto the crushed ‘silk’ of the binding.
I returned to Stuttgart via a visit to Frieder Mayer at his bindery in Esslingen. Frieder is an expert in all aspects of fine binding. He knows all there is to know about types of leather, and one of his arcane skills is hand polishing the skins to produce different effects. I asked him to produce something for the binding of the Elder Edda which would appear antique without looking ‘fake’ and here is his first trial.
A brief stopover in London coincided with the arrival of the running sheets of Plants of the Americas: here is a small selection of the 264 plates.
Then I was off to Bayeux with the proof of a trial section of the tapestry, to show the Director, M Verney, and his colleagues at the Museum. I must admit to being rather nervous – it seemed the height of presumption even to attempt the reproduction of such an awe-inspiring artefact. There was a long silence as I unrolled the two-metre length and then M Verney said simply ‘Parfait!’. And I said ‘Whew’. So now let’s hope for a fair wind to get it launched for the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, 14 October.
All this was two weeks ago. As for last week – I went skiing.