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Subscriptions for a new illustrated letterpress edition of George Orwell's masterpiece, Nineteen Eighty-Four, which plans to be the magnum opus from the Press to date, are open.
The edition is printed on white 120gsm Zerkall ohne-Silurian mould-made paper, across c.350 pages, each measuring 350mm x 245mm (c.14 x 10 inches). In addition, there are twenty-four sewn-in hand-made papers, on which the illustrations will be printed.
The edition is limited to 60 individually numbered copies, with no possibility for more to be printed.
[Eight of these will be set aside for a special edition].
The text is set in 12D Lutetia, regarded as classic, restrained and beautiful. It is the most famous face designed by Jan van Krimpen, the influential calligrapher, book and type designer.
Bordering the text is The Principles of Newspeak, the fictional language of Big Brother, printed across eight consecutive pages, repeated through the entirety of the book. As "the leading articles in the Times were written in" Newspeak, this too is set in Times, 8-pt italic (a face conceived by Stanley Morison in 1931). This often neglected ending to the novel is here imposed upon the reader, albeit subtly by virtue of the text size and being printed in light-grey. It is presented as both a footnote to the tale, as well as a constant reminder of the pervasiveness of language manipulation as a means to control.
An illustrative set of eyes is also present on every page-spread, embossed in each page, as a further form of invasion on the reader.
Whilst many books employ illustrations that can be easily rendered via alternative printing methods, or by mass production, this edition specifically seeks to include an illustrative form that can only be presented in the most limited of means, as each illustration is printed by letterpress, using wood and metal types and ornaments, and on hand-made paper.
There are twenty-four sewn-in broadside posters, each printed one at a time by hand, on an Albion iron hand-press, limited in number. Each setting is then dismantled. The hand-made papers, many watermarked, include those from a range of paper mills no longer operating as well as those still making paper by hand. A short-list of the papers included can be found by opening the below attachment.
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short-list of handmade papers used in the edition
These posters feature both representations of specific posters featured in the text of 1984, such as the very opening of the story, where the second paragraph starts:
‘The hallway smelt of boiled cabbage and old rag mats. At one end of it a coloured poster, too large for indoor display, had been tacked to the wall. It depicted an enormous face, more than a metre wide: the face of a man of about forty-five, with a heavy black moustache and ruggedly handsome features’;
whilst others are imagined settings or aspects of the text presented in illustrative form.
In this manner, these illustrations immerse the reader into the story as real and tactile ephemera, inspired or from the events of the novel. In addition, as a result of the nature of the medium of letterpress, each poster in every copy is to an extent unique.
A number of the broadside posters employ commissioned work from featured artists for specific aspects of the design. Those artists include: Ian Beck, Andy English, Joe Higgins, Jack Kitchen and others. Examples of these illustrations can be seen below.
examples of broadsides from the edition
Big Brother is Watching You, printed in three colours, with hand-set mixed wood type, and artwork by Joe Higgins.
A double page spread illustration, measuring 14" x 19",
by Jack Kitchen, depicting Room 101.
Eight copies will constitute a Special Edition, which will be offered to subscribers in the order of when they subscribed. Full details of the Contents of these Specials are found in the attachment below.
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examples of additional artwork from the specials
Two example sets of the unique hand-painted end-papers that will be used in one volume of the Special Edition, by Jack Kitchen,
following the theme of his Room 101 illustration.
Specially commissioned marbled paper from Four Keys Book Arts, Canada, continuing the 'eye' motif of the novel, with Tiger Eye design, to be used for binding one of the Special Edition's additional volumes.
The edition is expected to be released around December 2021 and will hopefully be the definitive letterpress edition of this influential text for the foreseeable future.
Demand is expected to be high, so early subscription is advised.
The subscription price per copy, payable in instalments which can be set by agreement on confirmation of subscription, is £2,284, with an initial deposit of £300 required to pre-order, and thereafter generous flexible payment plans offered for up to the date of publication for the balance of £1,984 plus p&p.
Once the pre-subscription period ends, the price per copy will be £3,500 plus p&p.