Typical presses since the 1970s

Typical presses since the 1970s

Since the 1970s, more than 140 marginal printers have been active and also at least several dozen small printers and publishers not affiliated with Drukwerk in de Marge. Out of this multitude, the spotlight will shine on eight presses representing the diversity of marginal printing. It is a concise anthology, not a complete ­encyclopaedia. Many other individual printers are ­portrayed in journals such as Boekenpost.

Sub Signo Libelli

As a student of Dutch language and literature, Ger Kleis was inspired by lectures by the renowned Professor Hellinga on typesetting and printing in the seventeenth century. In 1969 he bought a hand-operated platen press and type material to pursue the ideal of composing and printing texts which he found interesting and which had not previously been published. From 1974 (then a Dutch teacher at the Barlaeus Grammar School in Amsterdam) he had two foot-operated platen presses and a hand-operated cylinder press. The first publications appeared under the imprint Sub Signo ­Libelli (SSL), a name reminiscent of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century printing. Besides the presses, over the years he collected an impressive number of types representing nearly five centuries with a strong preference for the finest Dutch designs, such as Cancellaresca ­Bastarda and Romanée by Jan van Krimpen.

His books were illustrated with original prints such as lithographs and etchings and some with drawings. Located in Geesbrug in Drenthe, his press quickly ­became the epitome of the classic private press in the Netherlands. Type, paper, illustration and binding were most ­delicately coordinated, everything serving the text. He had in mind a publisher’s list of ‘decadent’ literature and texts focusing on homosexuality. Sub Signo Libelli, together with, for example, Jaap Meijer, Ser J.L. Prop and the Avalon Press, has a relatively high significance for Dutch literature.

Kleis deliberately complied a publisher’s list with new works by Dutch writers such as Kees Ouwens, Boudewijn Büch, Frédéric Bastet, Anton Korteweg, Kees Winkler, Maarten Biesheuvel, Tom van Deel, Tom Lanoye and in particular Gerrit Komrij, who, at Kleis’ special request, wrote ten homoerotic poems that were published as a collection. Capriccio (1978) was printed in 75 copies, 15 of which were illustrated with an etching by Charles Hofman, Komrij’s life companion.

Kleis was also interested in foreign literature. In 1982 he printed Gedichte by Leopold Andrian and in 1987, Are you in the wintertree? by James Purdy, in an edition of 65 copies including 16 with a lithograph by Chris Buursen. The exhibition ‘Op zoek naar de klassieke perfectie’ [Looking for classical perfection] in Museum Meermanno in 1999 was dedicated to SSL on the occasion of its twenty-fifth anniversary. Kleis’ work was then already widely appreciated. Intended for a small circle of aesthetes and collectors, some editions fetch surprisingly high prices at auctions and ­antiquarian bookshops. (KT/CdW)

Gerrit Komrij,Capriccio. Amsterdam, Sub Signo Libelli, 1978, titelpagina en frontispice. MM: SSL 042. (KB: JU)

Gerrit Komrij,Capriccio.Amsterdam, Sub Signo Libelli, 1978, titelpagina en frontispice. MM: SSL 042. (KB: JU)

Gerrit Komrij,Capriccio. Amsterdam, Sub Signo Libelli, 1978, documenten uit het drukkersarchief. MM: pp ned Sub Signo Libelli 1977. (KB: JU)

Gerrit Komrij,Capriccio.Amsterdam, Sub Signo Libelli, 1978, documenten uit het drukkersarchief. MM: pp ned Sub Signo Libelli 1977. (KB: JU)

Prospectus voor Leopold Andrian,Gedichte. Amsterdam, Sub Signo Libelli, 1982. MM: pp ned Sub Signo Libelli 1982.03. (KB)

Prospectus voor Leopold Andrian,Gedichte.Amsterdam, Sub Signo Libelli, 1982. MM: pp ned Sub Signo Libelli 1982.03. (KB)

Leopold Andrian,Gedichte.Amsterdam, Sub Signo Libelli, 1982. MM: pp ned Sub Signo Libelli 1982.03. (KB: JU)

Leopold Andrian,Gedichte.Amsterdam, Sub Signo Libelli, 1982. MM: pp ned Sub Signo Libelli 1982.03. (KB: JU)

H.G. Liebentrau,Verval. Eulogy, eclogue, epitaph. Geesbrug, Sub Signo Libelli, 1989. MM: pp ned Sub Signo Libelli 1989.01. (KB: JU)

H.G. Liebentrau,Verval. Eulogy, eclogue, epitaph.Geesbrug, Sub Signo Libelli, 1989. MM: pp ned Sub Signo Libelli 1989.01. (KB: JU)

Ger Kleis aan de pers, 1983, door Marco Sweering. (Spaarnestad Photo)

Ger Kleis aan de pers, 1983, door Marco Sweering. (Spaarnestad Photo)

Ger Kleis met de zethaak, 1983, door Marco Sweering. (Spaarnestad Photo)

Ger Kleis met de zethaak, 1983, door Marco Sweering. (Spaarnestad Photo)

Zetsel in de drukkerij van Ger Kleis, 1982, door Ton Leenhouts. (KB:JU)

Zetsel in de drukkerij van Ger Kleis, 1982, door Ton Leenhouts. (KB:JU)

Statenhofpers

Statenhofpers

Jaap Schipper is a radiologist, literature lover and also a modest collector of bibliophile editions. A direct contact with Jan Keijser was fatal: the printing bug bit and so began the Statenhofpers in 1994. The combination of a private press and the increasingly fanatical collection of printing art (including foreign specimens) was a happy one. Meanwhile, an impressive publisher’s list has been formed. As an example, mainly previously unpublished texts of authors of note are printed (C.O. Jellema, Frédéric Bastet, Rudy Kousbroek, Patty Scholten). An artist is often approached for a frontispiece or text illustrations (Joost Veerkamp, Peter Lazarov, Olivia Ettema, Frans de Jong).

When appropriate, part of the edition is bound sumptuously (Philipp Janssen, Frans den Breejen) with the application of a specially designed printer’s mark and/or binding ­vignette. Had Schipper been active in the moveable type era, he would have undoubtedly had his own type cut.

Collaboration with Joost Veerkamp has been particularly fertile. This began in 1999 with a modest text by Veerkamp about designing stamps (Papieren magneten) and in 2002 the monumental V-boek rolled off the press. In the 1970s, Veerkamp made a number of mezzotints of cows that remained partly unused. They were finally printed off in the V-boek accompanied by sonnets by Patty Scholten and filled-out with new illustrations. In 2005 followed Over luiken by Rudy Kousbroek, a text about the demise of traditional window shutters along the Parisian streets, in which Veerkamp immortalized the author in his crowded study discreetly behind a pair of (laser-cut) shutters. Jan Hidding’s Vissen met vader(2007) was the last joint product to date. (KT/CdW)

Christopher Smart,*Jeoffry.*Linosnedes Olivia Ettema. Den Haag, Statenhofpers, 2004

Christopher Smart,Jeoffry.Linosnedes Olivia Ettema. Den Haag, Statenhofpers, 2004, p. 8. MM: pp ned Statenhof 2004.01. (MM)

C.O. Jellema,*De locatie.*Houtgravures Peter Lazarov. Den Haag, Statenhofpers, 2006

C.O. Jellema,De locatie.Houtgravures Peter Lazarov. Den Haag, Statenhofpers, 2006, colofon met drukkersmerk. MM: pp ned Statenhof 2006.01. (MM)

Patty Scholten, Joost Veerkamp,*V-boek.*Den Haag, Statenhofpers, 2001

Patty Scholten, Joost Veerkamp,V-boek.Den Haag, Statenhofpers, 2001. MM: pp ned Statenhof 2001.02. (MM)

Patty Scholten, Joost Veerkamp,*V-boek.*Den Haag, Statenhofpers, 2001

Patty Scholten, Joost Veerkamp,V-boek.Den Haag, Statenhofpers, 2001, p. 12-13. MM: pp ned Statenhof 2001.02. (MM)

Rudy Kousbroek, Joost Veerkamp,*Over luiken*. Den Haag, Statenhofpers, 2005

Rudy Kousbroek, Joost Veerkamp,Over luiken. Den Haag, Statenhofpers, 2005. MM: pp ned Statenhof 2005.01. (KB: JU)

Rudy Kousbroek, Joost Veerkamp,*Over luiken.*Den Haag, Statenhofpers, 2005

Rudy Kousbroek, Joost Veerkamp,Over luiken.Den Haag, Statenhofpers, 2005. MM: pp ned Statenhof 2005.01. (KB: JU)

Avalon Pers

Avalon Pers

Dat doen we toch even [We’ll do that in just a bit] and Klooien met letters/Rammen maar [Fiddling around with type/Just ram them in]are the titles on the boxes Jan Keijser was given for his fiftieth and sixtieth birthday and they say something about the way the printer faced his passion. He began in 1974 with a simple broadsheet of a poem by Gerrit Achterberg and in subsequent decades hundreds of publications rolled off his presses.‘Fiddling around with letters’ is addictive and those who came to Woubrugge with a good plan almost always heard, ‘we’ll do that in just a bit’.

That ‘bit’ often fell rather short of the mark. The Achterberg Genootschap had many donors, the Friends of the Museum of the Book had many patrons, and that nice man who came for a New Year’s greeting card had an awful lot of friends. The most impressive enterprise in this regard is the Jaarboek van het Nederlands Omar Khayyam Genootschap, volume 5 of which appeared in 2009 comprising 71 pages, of which more than 60 with pure text, completely hand-set in 10 pt Garamond. And all that for a club of only eight members.

Happily this is just one aspect of the press. The unbridled love of Jan Keijser (sociologist and former ­public servant) for Dutch and foreign literature led to many publications, often of previously unpublished texts. Alongside authors such as J. Bernlef, Maarten Biesheuvel, Marga Minco, K. Schippers and Leo Vroman, members of the Dada Movement also received a prominent place in his publisher’s list.

A good example of the first is Kind [Child] (1994) by Maarten Biesheuvel: a 200 mm high booklet of 70 pages with a frontispiece drawn by Biesheuvel, in simple black cloth tied with a book-mark ribbon. The edition of 75 copies was insufficient for all the Biesheuvel fans and so it is now a ‘wanted’ title.

Recent evidence of Keijser’s craftsmanship is the monumental edition on the wood engravings of Jan Franken Pzn., with an introduction and bibliography by Willem Keizer. In 2008 and 2009, he printed dozens of wood engravings for this book from the original blocks up to a size of 310 x 215mm. The edition also integrates modern technology: a professional printer was used for text matter, reproductions of paintings and any unavailable blocks. (KT/CdW)

Lord Alfred Douglas,*Oscar Wilde: a plea and a reminiscence*. Woubrugge, Avalon Pers, 2002

Lord Alfred Douglas,Oscar Wilde: a plea and a reminiscence. Woubrugge, Avalon Pers, 2002, titelpagina. MM: pp ned Avalon 2002.05. (MM)

Lord Alfred Douglas,*Oscar Wilde: a plea and a reminiscence*. Woubrugge, Avalon Pers, 2002

Lord Alfred Douglas,Oscar Wilde: a plea and a reminiscence. Woubrugge, Avalon Pers, 2002, drukkersmerk (colofon). MM: pp ned Avalon 2002.05. (MM)

*Jaarboek Nederlands Omar Khayyam Genootschap.1-4.*Woubrugge, Avalon Pers, 1992-2006.

Jaarboek Nederlands Omar Khayyam Genootschap.1-4.Woubrugge, Avalon Pers, 1992-2006. MM: pp ned Avalon 1992.04; pp ned Avalon 1995.10; pp ned Avalon 2000.02; pp ned Avalon 2006.04. (KB: JU)

J.M.A. Biesheuvel. *Kind*. Woubrugge, Avalon Pers, 1994

J.M.A. Biesheuvel. Kind. Woubrugge, Avalon Pers, 1994, titelpagina en frontispice. KB: KW DPK 0166. (KB)

Mercator Press and Hester Verkruissen

Mercator Press

Infected by the enthusiasm of Jan Keijser, in 1981 Willem Kramer began his own press. His classical background is reflected in the name of his press: ‘Mercator’ is the Latin word for ‘kramer’ (pedlar). The publisher’s list he built up over the years is also classical in nature, not only through the design of his books, which he liked to personally provide with an appropriate frontispiece, but also by the text selection. Works by contemporary authors are alternated with the greats of world literature, for which Kramer does not hesitate to pull a Greek typecase from the rack when necessary. He also regularly acts as translator.

A typical example from the publisher’s list is Emily Dickinson, Six poems, Zes gedichten (2009) although in this case, the translations are by Els Proost. While this is a book modest in size, the Mercator Press did not shy from larger works. Between 1982 and 1999, eight whimsical images were placed by an anonymous Am­sterdam resident, varying from ‘the tree sawyer’ (Leidsebosje) to ‘breasts’ (Oudekerksplein). The impressive edition (390 x 290mm) Beelden anoniem [Anonymous images]appeared in 2004. The images are sublimely photographed and authors like Toon Tellegen, Nicolaas Matsiers and Menno Wigman provided fitting poems.

During his working life Kramer taught classical languages and in his poems Schoolherinneringen (2006) and De reünie(2009) he reflects on that period, often ironically. A special feature is an accompanying CD ­featuring audio readings of the poems.

Hester Verkruissen

Hester Verkruissen, library assistant at the ­University of Groningen, is one of the early marginal printers. In 1973 she began printing under her own name. One-off nicknames such as ‘Eau & Gaz’, ‘Dubbelmans’s kisten’ and the like are regularly to be found in the imprint, but ‘Bureau Claxon’ seems to be the current favourite.

In the first selection of Mooi marginaalshe was represented with four publications and included again in the third with two books. Appreciation of her work is justified because what she prints is instantly recognizable for positive reasons. Keywords are rhythm and balance. She constantly seeks the im/possibilities in combinations of simple ornaments and lines with the mise-en-page of the words. To begin with the latter: often sans serif type, Egyptiennes, or even a typewriter’s typeface is used to achieve a taut image. Leading and type spacing are sometimes extremely large so that the words appear as independent blocks. A good example is Alan Bennett’s The sardine tin of life (1997) in which the lines are even more widely separated by thin yellow lines.

The tight geometric use of ornaments is very successful in K. Schippers’ Tweemaal James Grieve(2001) bound by Cor Aerssen in Japanese fashion. On the verso are square blocks with a tea-towel motif, on every verso another block is added in a new colour introduced by a vertical striped line printed over the edges. Étages (2002) by Peter Bichsel achieves a very different effect.Here lines and ornaments are used to depict cheerful interior motifs. Little corner pieces on each page indicating the type area are another typical Verkruissen pleasantry. (KT/CdW)

Arie van den Berg,*2sprong*. Santpoort, Mercator Press, 2007

Arie van den Berg,2sprong. Santpoort, Mercator Press, 2007, upper wrapper. MM: pp ned Mercator 2007.05. (MM)

Emily Dickinson,*Six poems. Zes gedichten*. Met een illustratie van Mercator. Santpoort, Mercator Press, 2009

Emily Dickinson,Six poems. Zes gedichten. Met een illustratie van Mercator. Santpoort, Mercator Press, 2009, title page and frontispiece. KB: KW DPK 1304. (KB)

Emily Dickinson,*Six poems. Zes gedichten*. Met een illustratie van Mercator. Santpoort, Mercator Press, 2009,

Emily Dickinson,Six poems. Zes gedichten. Met een illustratie van Mercator. Santpoort, Mercator Press, 2009, p. 8-9. KB: KW DPK 1304. (KB)

*Gilbert & George. The sculptors, say. A selection*. Groningen, Hester Verkruissen, 1985

Gilbert & George. The sculptors, say. A selection. Groningen, Hester Verkruissen, 1985, boekband door Pau Groenendijk. MM: pp ned Verkruissen 1985.01 nr 33. (KB: JU)

K. Schippers,*Tweemaal James Grieve*. Groningen, Hester Verkruissen, 2001

K. Schippers,Tweemaal James Grieve. Groningen, Hester Verkruissen, 2001, detail. MM: pp ned Verkruissen 2001.02. (KB: JU)

K. Schippers,*Tweemaal James Grieve*. Groningen, Hester Verkruissen, 2001

K. Schippers,Tweemaal James Grieve. Groningen, Hester Verkruissen, 2001, snede. MM: pp ned Verkruissen 2001.02. (KB: JU)

Bucheliuspers and De Uitvreter

Bucheliuspers

Begun in 1983, the production of the Bucheliuspers is not great but those having read the maxim, ‘it has to be fun,’ by the Dutch scholar Arjaan van Nimwegen in Pastei en hoerenjong, will understand the following: do not print on commission, or for money, refuse deadlines and large print runs and certainly avoid slavish following of typography rules.

And the work of the press is fun. Just take Aries kleine restantenreeks [Arie’s little remnants series] (1987–2003). Over 16 years, lucky subscribers regularly received playfully designed broadsides with witty quatrains in which the printer regularly mocked himself.

Van Nimwegen did everything including the stitching and binding, and often achieved surprising results, such as the binding of Bij een klassefoto [About a class photo] by F.M. Philippi (1991), which by a subtle use of the capital O suggests a similar photo, and the lineal pattern on the cover of Related (1995, by the printer) which forms a family tree.

Particularly exuberant is Clownby wUm (1993). The yellow binding printed with jolly dots and the cheerful title label create expectations that are surpassed by the book itself. By the use of red, yellow, blue and black printed ornaments from the typecase and small electrotypes a clown wanders through the text all the way to the colophon.

The high point of these DIY activities to date is the lavishly illustrated Vaistoinu (2003), written in Waafish in which one is acquainted with the political organization, location, history and people of the fictional country, Wavia, that lies just beyond ‘the horizon of our evil, ugly and most of all, deadly dull reality’.

De Uitvreter

The extravagant way in which Kees Thomassen (curator of modern manuscripts at the Koninklijke Bibliotheek) made use of the printing facilities and the ­generosity of the Avalon Pers inspired him to choose ‘De Uitvreter [Scrounger]’ as the name for his press in 1989. Beginning in Leiden then Zoeterwoude and currently located in ’t Woold, he subsequently compiled a publisher’s list of nearly 300 titles, which due to the ­diversity of texts and execution cannot easily be classified.

The pleasure in printing prevails, large edition runs are not necessarily shunned and an extra print run is no problem. A good example is Suusje Pietz (2002), written and illustrated by Wim Hofman, in 550 copies partially printed in several colours on the hand press.

Humorous texts of nineteenth-century writers (Tollens, Piet Paaltjens) and new work by contemporary writers (Ingmar Heytze, Gerrit Komrij, Patty Scholten) roll just as easily off the press as evergreens by Annie M.G. Schmidt. The execution is often whimsical; a little print in the form of a camera, a peepshow and even a castle tower complete with a dangling escape rope.

Illustrations range from beautiful linocuts from his regular illustrator, Lonneke N., to specially crafted electrotypes or even photographic paste-ins. Typical of the press is Kunst by Theo van Doesburg (1993). The cover shows a (so-called) unknown study of his ‘Composition VII’ (‘The cow’) with a pencil stub dangling from each book.

Moreover, the publisher’s list also features some editions with a strictly classical design. The press is not exclusive: those present at many events (jubilees, exhibition openings, gatherings of literary clubs) have been graced with an ‘uitvretertje’ [Uitvreter memento]. The Letterkundig Museum in particular has been a beneficiary. The highlight is Dat is wat blijft als je weggaat [That is what remains when you leave]: 60 poems by 60 poets in a box made by Frans den Breejen; 110 copies were printed to mark the departure of Anton Korteweg as director of the museum in January 2009. (KT/CdW)

wUm [Willem],*Clown*. Utrecht, Bucheliuspers, 1993

wUm [Willem],Clown. Utrecht, Bucheliuspers, 1993, colofon. KB: KW DPZ 0077. (KB)

Aryâna vae Nïvêgenus,*Vaistoinu*. Utrehtas, Presu Bucêliusu, 2003

Aryâna vae Nïvêgenus,Vaistoinu. Utrehtas, Presu Bucêliusu, 2003. MM: pp ned Buchelius 2003.01. (KB: JU)

Theo van Doesburg.*Kunst*. Leiden, De Uitvreter, 1993

Theo van Doesburg.Kunst. Leiden, De Uitvreter, 1993, omslag. MM: pp ned Uitvreter 1993.02. (KB: JU)

Marjolijn Februari,*Schrappen*. Zoeterwoude, De Uitvreter, 2005

Marjolijn Februari,Schrappen. Zoeterwoude, De Uitvreter, 2005. MM: pp ned Uitvreter 2005.03. (KB: JU)

In de Bonnefant

In de Bonnefant

In de Bonnefant, established in Banholt by the English scholar Hans van Eijk, is one of the presses with a long tradition. This Limburg village of 1020 souls contains no less than two notable presses as Ser J.L. Prop also works there. Founded in 1977, the publisher’s list now includes more than 300 titles, almost all of a literary nature.

In de Bonnefant is one of the few presses in the Netherlands with a strong international focus, and even enjoys some fame in England, the cradle of private presses. But that does not mean that Van Eijk has disregarded Dutch poetry; his star author is Hans van de Waarsenburg for whom more than 50 volumes of poetry have been printed. And even Friesland is not forgotten, as attested by the modestly designed Boerehiem/Boerenerf, poems by Douwe Hermans Kiestra, translated by D.A. Tamminga.

Van Eijk strives for perfection, the books are of a high quality in which typographic experiments are not shunned and the illustrations are brought about in collaboration with contemporary artists. One of the highlights of his work, Vergil’s The golden bough(1992) translated by Seamus Heaney, was a joint project of the printer and the artist Jan Hendrix, residing since 1978 in Mexico City. His intriguing illustrations with gold foil go wonderfully well with the atmosphere of Heaney’s translation of Vergil.

Another highlight is the wood engraving by Rigby Graham for Under the barrage(1998) by Peter Scupham, and Nell’ atto di partire(2003) by Paolo Ruffilli, published in two versions (Italian/English and Italian/Dutch), should not go unmentioned. Both ­versions are set in Meidoorn; original text and translation are separated by a quire of very thin Japanese paper printed with six screen prints by Jan Hendrix.But, as Hans van Eijk always says, ‘The finest book is the one to come’.(KT/CdW)

Tarek Eltayeb,*Das gläserne Gespräch. Brittle conversation. *Banholt, Im Bonnefanten, 2007

Tarek Eltayeb,*Das gläserne Gespräch. Brittle conversation. *Banholt, Im Bonnefanten, 2007, titelpagina. MM: pp ned In de Bonnefant 2007.03. (MM)

Tarek Eltayeb,*Das gläserne Gespräch. Brittle conversation.*Banholt, Im Bonnefanten, 2007

Tarek Eltayeb,Das gläserne Gespräch. Brittle conversation.Banholt, Im Bonnefanten, 2007, drukkersmerk in colofon. MM: pp ned In de Bonnefant 2007.03. (MM)

Hans van de Waarsenburg,*Nachtdichten.*Banholt, In de Bonnefant, 2006

Hans van de Waarsenburg,Nachtdichten.Banholt, In de Bonnefant, 2006, gedicht 9 en 10. MM: pp ned In de Bonnefant 2006.03. (MM)

Vergil,*The golden bough. *Translation Seamus Heaney. With screenprints by Jan Hendrix. Mexico, Los Tropicos; Banholt, In de Bonnefant, 1992

Vergil,*The golden bough. *Translation Seamus Heaney. With screenprints by Jan Hendrix. Mexico, Los Tropicos; Banholt, In de Bonnefant, 1992, title page and frontispiece. MM: pp ned In de Bonnefant 1992.05. (KB: JU)

Vergil,*The golden bough. *Translation Seamus Heaney. With screenprints by Jan Hendrix. Mexico, Los Tropicos; Banholt, In de Bonnefant, 1992.

Vergil,*The golden bough. *Translation Seamus Heaney. With screenprints by Jan Hendrix. Mexico, Los Tropicos; Banholt, In de Bonnefant, 1992. MM: pp ned In de Bonnefant 1992.05. (KB: JU)

Vergil,*The golden bough. *Translation Seamus Heaney. With screenprints by Jan Hendrix. Mexico, Los Tropicos; Banholt, In de Bonnefant, 1992

Vergil,*The golden bough. *Translation Seamus Heaney. With screenprints by Jan Hendrix. Mexico, Los Tropicos; Banholt, In de Bonnefant, 1992, watermerk. MM: pp ned In de Bonnefant 1992.05. (KB: JU)

Vergil,*The golden bough. *Translation Seamus Heaney. With screenprints by Jan Hendrix. Mexico, Los Tropicos; Banholt, In de Bonnefant, 1992

Vergil,*The golden bough. *Translation Seamus Heaney. With screenprints by Jan Hendrix. Mexico, Los Tropicos; Banholt, In de Bonnefant, 1992, colofon met handtekening. MM: pp ned In de Bonnefant 1992.05. (KB: JU)

Jorge Esquinca, Jan Hendrix,*Piedra. *Gualdalajara, Petra Ediciones, 2003

Jorge Esquinca, Jan Hendrix,*Piedra. *Gualdalajara, Petra Ediciones, 2003, boekband. MM: pp ned In de Bonnefant 2003.11. (KB: JU)

Paolo Ruffilli,*Nell’atto di partire. In het vertrek. *Serigrafie di Jan Hendrix. Trad. olandese di Willem van Toorn. Banholt, In de Bonnefant, 2003

Paolo Ruffilli,*Nell’atto di partire. In het vertrek. *Serigrafie di Jan Hendrix. Trad. olandese di Willem van Toorn. Banholt, In de Bonnefant, 2003, p.19. MM: pp ned In de Bonnefant 2003.08. (KB: JU)

Paolo Ruffilli,*Nell’atto di partire. In het vertrek. *Serigrafie di Jan Hendrix. Trad. olandese di Willem van Toorn. Banholt, In de Bonnefant, 2003

Paolo Ruffilli,*Nell’atto di partire. In het vertrek. *Serigrafie di Jan Hendrix. Trad. olandese di Willem van Toorn. Banholt, In de Bonnefant, 2003. MM: pp ned In de Bonnefant 2003.08. (KB: JU)

The great Dutch type specimen

De Blauwe Scheen earns a special place amongst over 50 projects carried out by changing groups of printers since 1981. Jan Keijser and Hans van Eijk are the people behind the name which has diverse sources of inspiration: ‘De Blauwe Schuit’, the legendary collective formed around the printer H.N. Werkman; the poem ‘De Lof van een Blauwe Scheen’ [In Praise of a Blue Shin] by Roemer Visscher; and, last but not least, by the fact that ‘scheen’ is another word for ‘kooi’ [quoin], a printer’s tool used to wedge the lines of composed lead type firmly within the frame.

Of the five projects organized to date by the pair, De grote Nederlandse letterproef [The great Dutch type specimen] *(1998) is the most impressive for various reasons. First and foremost, there is the consistency of the content. With most projects, a theme is specified and each printer decides how this will be fulfilled. In the case of the Letterproef*, each printer received a short prose piece by Jacob Israël de Haan, who had articles published in various periodicals from 1905 to 1909. The enthusiasm for participation was so overwhelming that the corpus had to be expanded with a selection from a series of travel stories for children, which De Haan wrote for a Sunday paper in 1903 and 1904. Sixty printers received texts, the greatest number ever achieved by any such project.

What really makes the project so special is that, as the name suggests, it also constitutes a type specimen. Each printer was assigned a type and, besides the prose fragment, was asked to submit a complete type family (i.e., all available typefaces: lower case, capitals, small capitals, numbers, diacriticals, ligatures, etc.) and ­discuss its origins and the designer.

The result is astonishing because there is no better range of type specimens available to printers at the end of the lead era. Of course no commercial printing firm existed that possessed such a great variety, but because the marginal printers had already combed the entire Netherlands in their hunt for type, there was still much more preserved than the classic eternal Garamond, Bodoni, Hollandsche Mediaeval and Nobel. The combination of text and type specimen lends the publication a special charm. Type specimens usually comprise just a few lines of text to give an idea of the type, but here, by using a longer fragment, every type has the chance to make a full impression.

With every project there are participants who make their contribution with an minimum effort and those who give it their all. Fortunately it is the dedicated who dominate the Letterproef and almost every contribution exudes the pleasure spent in its design and printing. For how long did Arjaan van Nimwegen of the Bucheliuspers sweat over a silhouette portrait of Paul Verlaine, built up of simple square blocks? And what about Gert van Oortmerssen of De Dwarsbomen who made his own paper for his contribution?

Most telling of the effort required is the exceptionally colourful illustrated contribution of De vergulde maatlat/Treemapers of Karel Treebus, who took on Libra. The colophon states, ‘In the autumn of 1997, 35 print runs were made’ for this contribution, the first on the day of the Queen’s speech to Parliament in September and the last on St. Nicholas Eve, 5 December: ‘Due to a limited type collection, the text had to be composed and printed per line’.

Another contribution for which the hours were not counted is that of Gerard Post van der Molen. Those who know his solo project, *Het groeiboek *would not be surprised that he used Hollandsche Mediaeval, and how! The letter can be admired in nine body sizes and roman and italic have been used as much as possible. In addition his contribution also contains much worthwhile information about the type and some ‘replicas’ composed with great care, including one of the original announcements of Hollandsche Mediaeval from 1912. An ‘urgent appeal’ to the reader to help De Ammoniet to complete its collection of this very large and diverse type family is a fitting conclusion to the whole.

The path of a project’s organizers is not always strewn with roses. One printer had not understood at all and submitted an anonymous nursery rhyme, ‘Bloem­kweeken’ [Flower-growing]. The numbering also went a little wrong and the chronological order is not always correct but only a pedant would notice. Much worse was two printers who did not finish their contribution on time. ‘Credit notes’ reminded owners that their box was not yet complete. The strong urgings of printing colleagues and ‘numerous letters, some even phrased in legal terms’ ultimately produced a result. Happily, in the summer of 2001, Ehrhardt and Times also rolled off the press.

The ultimate basis for the special character of the Letterproef *is embodied in the double box made by Frans den Breejen. It is a light blue, linen clamshell case on which three type stems are embossed. This is encased in a silver-grey box in the form of a piece of lead type, a capital H as seen on the separate case lid. And for the lucky owners of the *Letterproef, a repeated handling (purely for fun!) is to slide the case into the box: the softly expelled sucking sound it makes is musical ­perfection! (KT/CdW)

*De grote Nederlandse letterproef.*Banholt, Woubrugge, De Blauwe Scheen, 1998

De grote Nederlandse letterproef.Banholt, Woubrugge, De Blauwe Scheen, 1998. MM: pp ned Blauwe Scheen 5.00-b. (KB: JU)

*De grote Nederlandse letterproef. *Banholt, Woubrugge, De Blauwe Scheen, 1998

*De grote Nederlandse letterproef. *Banholt, Woubrugge, De Blauwe Scheen, 1998. MM: pp ned Blauwe Scheen 5.00-b. (KB: JU)

*De grote Nederlandse letterproef. *Banholt, Woubrugge, De Blauwe Scheen, 1998

*De grote Nederlandse letterproef. *Banholt, Woubrugge, De Blauwe Scheen, 1998. MM: pp ned Blauwe Scheen 5.00-b. (KB: JU)

Marginal printers and their neighbours

Distribution and marketing

Printing is one thing, finding a market for the products is much more difficult. The heading ‘Nieuwe uitgaven’ in the Nieuwsbrief of the Stichting Drukwerk in de Marge offers a good opportunity. More important is the annual two-day selling exhibition organized in collaboration with the Stichting Handboekbinden. Such an exhibition is not only to make contact with potential clients, at best resulting in permanent sales of new publications, but also for the exchange of material between printers.

Antiquarian booksellers still play a role: the Antiquarian bookshop Schuhmacher (founded 1952) in Amsterdam; Fokas Holthuis (founded 1994) in The Hague; and André Swertz (founded 1976) in Utrecht have many private press publications in stock. Since 1979, Arjaan van Nimwegen’s ‘De Utrechtsche’ acted as a specialist bookshop. In 1983, he had 1000 titles from 160 presses available, but the shop was not viable and closed in 1988. Currently there is the Minotaurus Bookstore in Amsterdam, run by Nol Sanders and originally connected with the Stichting. Sanders holds small exhibitions of marginal printers and publishers on the premises.

The Internet is a recent addition. The website of the Stichting Drukwerk in de Marge includes a list of all active marginal printers, a lively ‘wanted and for sale’ section for presses and type, and a section on ‘new releases’. By way of a free alert system, anyone interested in new publications can keep their finger on the pulse. And more and more printers have their own website.

Pirate printing

A few printers explain the modest production of the press with the argument that it is so difficult to get good texts, but that is only laziness. If a marginal printer presents themselves to a writer with the request to be permitted to print ‘something’, the response is rarely negative. Furthermore, both Dutch and international literature of past centuries is so overwhelmingly rich that many pearls are to be found.

Works with authors who have been deceased for less than 70 years are more problematic. As with living authors, a copyright rests on these works meaning that it cannot be printed without explicit consent. Should that consent be lacking then it is an illegal publication, usually named a ‘pirate edition’. There have been only a few pirate editions in the Netherlands and those that have occasionally appeared have more to do with naive ignorance than intent.

However, there is one clear exception: the work of Gerard Reve. For one reason or another some printers find it exciting to bring his texts (no matter how trivial) to light. Undoubtedly this is due to the aversion the author had towards this genre, which more than once drove him to legal action.

One particularly spectacular lawsuit was held in 1984 against a 22-year-old student J.F. who made an edition of a few previously uncollected letters from Reve and the dealer A.S. who put some up for sale. Not only did Reve win the case and the printer and dealer were fined, this also led to the publication of Schoon schip [Clean sweep], compiled by Reve’s partner, Joop Schafthuizen. It contained all the scattered published works that until then had not been brought together in one collection. However, this attempt to take the wind out of the printers’ sails had little effect and the number of ‘reef publications’ (a play on piracy and Reve) is now about 200 titles. The climax with 57 illegal publications was reached in 1995. (KT/CdW)

Bibliophile editions and artists' books

The distinction between the original French ‘livre d’artiste’ and the private press as it originated in England is quite easy to make in the first half of the century but after the 1950s it began to fade. Modern artists who apply various graphic techniques and thereby make not only prints but also books and broadsheets, do not themselves make this distinction and speak of artists’ books or limited editions.

In general, we do not include the books of commercial bibliophile publishers such as Bébert, Picaron Editions and Galerie Petit among the private press publications but under commercial artists’ books. These are publishers that target the luxury market with expensive art editions, e.g. those in which original, hand signed and numbered prints are included.

The beautiful books of the publisher Herber Blokland’s bibliophile Arethusa pers in Baarn, founded in 1959, are printed by other printers – sometimes commercial, some private press printers. This also applies to the publications of the commercial publisher AMO of Amstelveen that has released more than 200 editions onto the market, often printed by private presses such as Hein Elferink, Bram de Does and In de Bonnefant.

Besides binding art books and de luxe editions in his Binderij Phoenix, David Simaleavich also published bibliophile books. Under the names of Phoenix Editions and Dirty Trix, from 1981 to 1991 he had a number of books printed by professional printers and also by private press printers as Ger Kleis of Sub Signo Libelli, Ben Hosman of De Regulierenpers and especially Rob Cox of De Veerpers. Much work was illustrated and the bindings usually made by Binderij Phoenix.

In the 1980s and 1990s, bibliophile projects appeared in several Dutch provinces, in which the local community played a central role. These projects comprised bibliophile editions of literary texts with original graphic artwork, made by people who were connected with the community. For example, the Gelderland Art Foundation in Arnhem published a series of ‘prose, poetry and prints’ in 90 parts from 1987 to 1990, printed by Het Drukhuis in Oosterbeek in an edition of 120 copies with silkscreened illustrations.

The private edition *De blijde en onvoorziene week *made by Hugo Claus and Karel Appel in Paris in 1950 was simply duplicated on a copier and hand-coloured by Appel in an edition of 200 copies. It is one of the first Dutch artists’ books. Typical of this genre is that the entire book, content and design, is produced by the artist. The books are made by a young generation of artists, in diverse forms and edition sizes, using various techniques from linocuts to lithographs and screen-printing, and with moveable type typography and laser-printing. They form a growing and attractive part of marginal book culture. These works are self-published and commercial considerations are generally hard to find.

The small non-commercial publisher Snood of the artist Els ter Horst in Amsterdam who, usually alone, sometimes with others, produces one or two books per year, is an example of a publisher of artists’ books which differs little from a contemporary private press using plenty of colourful screen-prints.

Avant-garde and surrealism

Many avant-garde schools and movements in the twentieth century, such as Futurism, Dada, CoBrA, Fluxus and Conceptualism, released their own publications, from books and pamphlets to periodicals and broadsheets using various typographic and graphic techniques. The Surrealists were most involved in these types of publishing activities.

Under the imprint of ‘Éditions surréalistes’ (and dozens of other names) the Surrealists produced books and magazines which appeared from 1926 in France and, soon after, all over the world. These were self-published by the author and/or the artist, and either carried out under their instructions or entirely self-produced. These are artists’ books: more or less expensive, numbered and signed publications in book form with original graphics, and also ‘livres-objet’, broadsheets, periodicals; simple, sometimes primitive productions duplicated by means of stencils, offset and the photocopier.

Since 1961 in the Netherlands, the Surrealist painter and designer J.H. Moesman has made a few special prints, e.g. Op engelvoeten/À pas de loup *in the magazine *Brumes blondes *(1975), composed in his self-designed type, Petronius. The International periodical *Brumes blondes was founded in 1964 by Her de Vries and Laurens Vancrevel, first stencilled, later printed in offset. Under the same imprint a few Surrealist books were published including the hand-set portfolio Geschonden woud *(1975) with text by Laurens Vancrevel and lithographs by the artist Rik Lina who was also the initiator of the periodical published between 1987 and 1992, *Droomschaar [Dream scissors].

The Amsterdam artist and pharmacist Oey Tjeng Sit made many books and pamphlets with drawings, texts, linocuts and torn paper, mostly under the imprint of De Vingerpers, his one-man publishing house (active from 1971 to 1986). There are the ‘livres-objet’ such as a cigar box or a bottle of water, and ‘feuilles-volantes’, intriguing pamphlets, strange periodicals, collages, unusual letters and materials: the Surrealist publishing world is fascinating and infinite. The periodical Brumes blondes and the publisher with the same name have displayed increasing activity since 2004. (KT/CdW)

Karel Appel, Hugo Claus,*De blijde en onvoorziene week. *Parijs, Cobra-bibliotheek, 1950

Karel Appel, Hugo Claus,*De blijde en onvoorziene week. *Parijs, Cobra-bibliotheek, 1950. KB: 43 F 25. (KB: JU)

Geurt van Dijk, Els ter Horst,*Omtrent ’t onvermijdelijke, wat moet dat moet. *Amsterdam, Uitgeverij Snood, 1986

Geurt van Dijk, Els ter Horst,*Omtrent ’t onvermijdelijke, wat moet dat moet. *Amsterdam, Uitgeverij Snood, 1986. MM: Ku 0068. (KB: JU)

Mooi marginaal [Beautiful marginal]

In 2003, the Haarlem bibliophile and graphic society, Het Beschreven Blad initiated a biennial selection of the 50 most beautiful marginal publications. The annual selection of the Best Dutch Book Designs was no stranger to this idea. The organization was brought under the Stichting Laurens Janszoon Coster, chaired by Dick Jalink and with Bubb Kuyper as secretary.

After the call for entries and the considerations of an expert panel, the first *Mooi marginaal *was published in October 2004 with an overview of the best Dutch and Flemish bibliophile publications of 2002–2003. 121 publications by 63 professionals and amateur printers, designers, bookbinders and artists were submitted for judging. Most of the broadsheets, books, occasional publications and artists’ books were letterpress printed with lithography, wood engravings or mixed media for the illustrations. The binding ranged from a simple cahier stitching to a half-vellum binding or slipcase.

In the next edition of Mooi marginaal for 2004–2005, 64 presses submitted 157 publications, and the edition of 2006–2007 attracted 61 presses with 131 publications. Remarkably, the jury was fairly united in its choice with the first two editions while the last edition took more effort. The result clearly shows why: there is less letterpress, more offset and laser-printing; less traditional design, more graphics and visual art. It reflects a trend among the marginal printers and publishers from private press to artists’ books.

The Mooi marginaal from 2008–2009 has been presented in November 2010 at the Museum Meermanno as part of the exhibition ‘The Ideal Book. Private Presses in the Netherlands, 1910-2010’. The jury made a selection of 157 publications from 97 entrants. Meanwhile, this biennial selection has won a permanent place in the bibliophile world. *Mooi marginaal *represents a major incentive for limited and marginal printing in the Netherlands and Flanders. The level is high and the interest great. Besides expert judging, the catalogue (printed by Lenoir Schuring) is at least as important and the chosen books are exhibited at a number of locations in the Netherlands and Flanders so that a wider public can become acquainted with what occurs in this fascinating corner of book culture.

Flemish bibliophile publications often participate in marginal markets and small publishers fairs in the Netherlands, and in particular in Mooi marginaal. While the private press and de luxe publishers in Flanders were originally focused on the French ‘livre d’artiste’, in recent decades more and more typographic and artistic private press publications have also appeared. Some special contemporary Flemish bibliophile presses and publishers, such as Het Gonst, Ergo Pers, DRUKsel and Carbolineum cannot be distinguished from their Dutch colleagues unless it is by their more internationally oriented text selection. (KT/CdW)

Jan Tschichold,*Typotrash. *Antwerpen, Het Gonst, 2003.

Jan Tschichold,*Typotrash. *Antwerpen, Het Gonst, 2003. MM: pp ned Gonst 2003.02. (KB: JU)

Graphic museums and printing workships

Some contemporary marginal printers, such as Jan Keijser’s Avalon Pers and Gerard Post van der Molen’s De Ammoniet, are actively and deliberately engaged in the maintenance of the traditional craft and the preservation of printing techniques and materials. They share an important objective with the graphic museums: the preservation of the Netherlands’ typographic heritage.

There is no national graphic museum in the Netherlands. Plans in the 1930s for a ‘Museum voor de Grafische Vakken’ [Trades] in Utrecht came to nothing after the Second World War. There is no museum in the Netherlands where visitors can take in the history of the Dutch art of book printing and graphic techniques in one visit, with internationally renowned names such as Blaeu, Janssonius, the Enschedés, Jan van Krimpen and many others.

However, there are some 30 small graphic museums, where techniques like letterpress printing, lithography and sometimes bookbinding and papermaking are maintained and demonstrated to an interested audience. These museums are all very different, from small and amateur (in the best sense of the word) to large and professional, with enthusiastic staff, mostly volunteers and former graphic artists, e.g. the Grafisch Museum, Groningen; the museums of printing in Meppel and Etten-Leur.

By far the most important historical graphic collection in the Netherlands is that of the Museum Enschedé, where the complete and unique history of the firm Joh. Enschedé & Zonen since the eighteenth century, is stored. It holds, among other things, one of the largest and most diverse collections of punches and matrices in the world.

The Netherlands has at least 20 printing workshops. Here, artists and amateurs can work with materials and presses; courses, workshops and demonstrations are given; sometimes small exhibitions are ­organised and personal work produced. If letterpress and typography are practised next to etching ­techniques and screen-printing, then the operation comes close to being a private press. In fact there is not always a clear distinction, although it must lie in the individuality of the private press compared with the collectivity of the workshop.

Yet a workshop has its own individual aspects, e.g. the entirely personal and unique work of Hester Verkruissen has long been printed on the presses of the Grafisch Centrum in Groningen. While workshops are often the cradle of experimentation and the creative breeding grounds where typographers and artists meet, e.g. the Drukhuis and Typotent; they are also to some extent, just like the graphic museums and marginal printers, the custodians of graphic heritage. Graphic workshops are often also associated with art schools where books are created by teachers and graphic design students. (KT/CdW)

*Letterproef. Grafisch Centrum Groningen. *Groningen, Grafisch Centrum Groningen, 2004

*Letterproef. Grafisch Centrum Groningen. *Groningen, Grafisch Centrum Groningen, 2004. p. ‘Arsis corps 28 en 36’. MM: Obj. 1002. (MM)

*Letterproef. Grafisch Centrum Groningen. *Groningen, Grafisch Centrum Groningen, 2004

*Letterproef. Grafisch Centrum Groningen. *Groningen, Grafisch Centrum Groningen, 2004. p. ‘Horn van Loevezijn’. MM: Obj. 1002. (MM)

Institutional collectors

Besides private collectors there are a few institutions in the Netherlands that collect and preserve private press publications. First there is the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (KB) and its Depository of Dutch Publications, which keeps copies of all publications released since 1974 in the Netherlands. It is the largest public collection of the Dutch private press. This is because from the outset, a large number of marginal printers faithfully sent copies of their publications. Therein lies a mutual ­interest: not only is one specimen well preserved, but also the title is included in the Dutch bibliography and so the book leaves a small but significant trace in Dutch cultural history.

Long before the establishment of the Depository, the KB had started collecting private press publications. By the early twentieth century the KB had plans for a ‘museum of the book’ in which contemporary bibliophile publications would have a place. It is therefore not surprising that the KB subscribed to many bibliophile series from the 1920s and 1930s. Often the KB received copy number 13 as this was not an attractive number for a private collector.

In the 1950s the KB acquired many domestic and foreign private press publications intended for a new Museum of the Book to be set up in the Museum Meermanno, then connected to the KB. One highlight was the acquisition of the entire production of William Morris’ Kelmscott Press housed in a bookcase made by his studio, but by far the most important collection was that of M.R. ­Radermacher Schorer, donated in 1956, which formed the basis of the modern collection of book art at the opening of the Museum of the Book in 1960.

Since 1960 Museum Meermanno has developed an ­active collection policy for private press publications. Soon a large number of marginal printers delivered their copies to the Museum Meermanno and it is partly due to this that the Dutch private press collection is comparable in importance to that of the KB. However the unique position of Museum Meermanno in the field of modern book art is not only because of the collection of Dutch private press publications, but also the presence of a large number of individual archives and an extensive and a representative collection of foreign presses.

Museum Meermanno is the indisputable centre of the Dutch book culture. This status rests on not only rich collections of medieval manuscripts, incunabula, old rare works and the modern collections of bibliophile editions and private press books, but also the world’s largest collection of bookplates and the collection of industrial bindings. Museum Meermanno also has a dynamic exhibition policy and a lecture and events programme, through which Dutch and international bibliophily and book art (and also many individual designers, artists and presses) are brought to the attention of an interested public.

Other major collections in the Netherlands are ­located in the Special Collections of the University of Amsterdam. In particular the collections of the Koninklijke Vereniging van het Boekenvak [Royal Society of the Book Trade] and the Lettergieterij Amsterdam could be named. The University of Leiden has a collection of marginal editions as part of the library of the Maatschappij der Nederlandse Letterkunde [Dutch ­Literature Society]. The Zeeuwse Bibliotheek in Middelburg has a large collection of marginal printing thanks to the active collecting policy of curator Ronald Rijkse for many years. In 1932 and in the years following, the Stedelijk Museum of Amsterdam acquired a large part of the collection of Dutch book art from the bibliophile M.B.B. (Bob) Nijkerk as a donation.

The largest collections abroad are usually located in national libraries: the British Library in London ­(although the St Bride Library, London, and the Bodleian Library, Oxford, should be also mentioned); the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek in Germany (Berlin and Leipzig, with the Deutsches Buch- und Schriftmuseum); the Bibliothèque Nationale in France; and, in Belgium, the Koninklijke Bibliotheek Albert I in ­Brussels as well as the Erfgoedbibliotheek Hendrik Conscience in Antwerp.(KT/CdW)

The hybrid book, the digitally produced book

Desk Top Publishing (DTP) made a definite breakthrough in the mid-1980s. In 1985, DTP comprised three components: the Apple Macintosh Computer (1984), the Apple LaserWriter (1985) and the PageMaker software programme (1985). Competitors quickly followed with similar systems: especially Microsoft which developed the Windows interface for the MS-DOS system for the IBM personal computer and its many clones.

Earlier, the personal computer had become an affordable ‘home computer’ with word processing programmes like WordPerfect, but connecting the computer with a printer was problematic for a long time: text and page layout, and sometimes various fonts, would appear on screen but would not emerge from the printer. In the 1980s the printer was simpler than it is now: ink needles that built letters up; or a spinning wheel like successors of the electric IBM typewriter with correction capabilities; or ink nozzles, a simplification of expensive graphics printers and the forerunner of the DeskJet printer. Apple’s DTP, the PostScript letters and formatting of Adobe Systems, later TrueType (1991) following a collaboration with Microsoft and OpenType (1996), along with the PDF format (circa 1993) from Adobe signified a revolution in the graphics world.

Although DTP was initially developed for the printing trade and typographic designers, there soon proved to be a much larger market: businesses, offices, associations, institutions and finally individuals who made their own house style, advertisements, newsletters and small print work. There was a boom in amateur typography and design that calmed down some years later when it became clear that actual craftsmanship was required. More and more printers rapidly came on the market with increasing speeds, ever-higher resolutions and increasing affordability; from large, heavy black and white laser printers to simple desktop models and colour laser printers, and, in the wake of digital photography, increasingly sophisticated DeskJet printers with photo printing technology for more grey tones.

Microsoft Word became the standard word processing programme, Adobe’s PDF the standard format, and they could communicate well with all types of printers. Graphics software such as Adobe InDesign and Photoshop for advanced users later became generally available. Today, anyone can produce a modest publication with a reasonable investment in equipment and software and a good dose of enthusiasm.

A few private press printers saw the opportunities offered by these developments early on. Various combinations of moveable type and digital technology had already appeared by the 1990s for large texts, or just for something extra like an experiment or a joke. Anything that was done in moveable type could now be done entirely on the computer to produce a hybrid book. One step further was the book created entirely from digital techniques.

As in the beginning of the marginal printing movement in the 1970s, now at the outset of the digitally produced book different schools are apparent. There are graphic artists who with printing techniques like piezography or digital photography and the professional colour print are taking a new direction and making artists’ books. There are also typographically oriented private press printers who pursue the classic typography of lead type using the computer and printers, wishing to match and even surpass it. The process continues as before through the choice of type, layout, fine paper and an appealing text.

It would appear that the digital private press book presents nothing new: the joy of book production, a commitment to quality, use of the best materials, a special attention to text and design, and a certain degree of creativity and exclusivity. These characteristics of the private press book in any technique still apply. But fervent supporters of lead type will always look down disapprovingly on the digital book. After all, it can feature no impression, the ink is not so sharply defined nor the black so saturated, and the choice of paper is limited. (KT/CdW)

Printers of hybrid books

Cees van Dijk, who first printed with Sem Hartz at the Tuinwijkpers and in 1972 began the Carlinapers, was one of the first to embrace the modern electronics. After moving to Oosterhesselen in Drenthe in the 1980s he worked with an electronic typewriter for his Agri Montis Pers. From 1990 he used a computer and laser printer for De Klencke Pers. During the 1990s, Karli Frigge, well-known as a marbling artist, made several books with text designed on the computer and samples or proofs of her marbled paper pasted in. These are now sought-after collectibles, like her hand-written books with marbling samples which appear in editions of between four and eight copies. Ben Hosman of the De Regulierenpers switched over in the early 1990s from lead type to the computer, first in black and white, and later also in colour.

Bert van Kempen, lecturer at the Academy of Fine Arts in Tilburg, made a series of books on typography and poetry using various personal printers. He named the series Prototypen and between 1997 and 2007 published more than 30 volumes in mostly six to eight copies with a maximum of ten (after his death an almost complete series was donated to the Koninklijke Bibliotheek). In *Prototype *33 (2003), designed in QuarkXPress and printed on an Epson Stylus Photo, he ­discussed his acquaintance with type, typeface and books, bibliophile printing and marginal publishing. The ­Althaea Pers in The Hague (Jos Swiers) used modern techniques on over 100 publications.

Among the 50 *Mooi marginaal *editions of 2002–2003, the book blocks of 34 were printed entirely in ­letterpress, four in letterpress and silkscreen, and four combining letterpress with a digital printing technique (three with inkjet and one with piezography). Four years later in 2006–2007, the book blocks of 25 editions were entirely in letterpress (now only half); four combined letterpress with a digital printing technique; three were entirely laser-printed; and four in another digital printing technique entirely (silkscreen, linocut and offset, alone or in combination with ­letterpress).

For example, René Bakker of the Atlanta Pers ­submitted a collection of poems bequeathed by Pierre Kemp, Kleine avond [Little evening] (2007); a ‘traditional’ publication of a ‘traditional’ press, and as the jury stated, ‘a sophisticated interplay of colour, typography and text,’ produced using piezo, laser and letterpress printing. Maybe postmodern *(2007), written and designed by Hyo Kwon, was something completely different: 279 pages, printed in only four copies, on which the jury remarked: ‘One could speak of a typographical polyphony’. Likewise the *Typografisch handboek [Manual] (2007), designed by 34 graphic design students from the Artez Technical College for the Arts in Arnhem was laser-printed in 50 copies. De tijd van de dochter [The time of the daughter] (2006) by Willem Wout de Klerk (688 pages) was designed by Studio Braam and printed in 60 copies by the stencil (mimeo) printers KNUST using digital stencil printing: according to the jury it is ‘now already a collector’s item’.

Anyone who regularly visits the Boekkunstbeurs [Book Art Fair] and compares the portrait gallery of 1985 with that of 2000 cannot help but notice that the lead type is ageing, the printers are getting older and there are few newcomers.It appears that fewer young people have enough time, space and patience to work with lead type. Moreover, the possibilities are increasingly limited: those who would now purchase metal type and a press must look to what is on offer from marginal printers who have ceased work, the rest has practically disappeared.

For the new generation of lovers of book production it is easier to buy a computer and colour printer, or use illustration techniques like silkscreen or digital photography. It also seems that modern Dutch literature is ebbing away from the printers’ circuit and the role of the private press as the vanguard of contemporary poetry and the discoverers of literary gems is diminished. In contrast, printers’ collaborative projects form a unique phenomenon in the international private press world and often produce superb results.

At the tenth anniversary of the Stichting Drukwerk in de Marge in 1985, Ernst Braches wrote: ‘Is it conceivable that Drukwerk in de Marge will consist only of ­typographers in the near future? I think not. The ­current trends in offset printing, reproduction techniques, photographic composition and the not-to-be-missed development opportunities of printer and ­microcomputer open a world of unprecedented alternative opportunities’. These proved to be prophetic words.

Now 25 years later, the private press in the Netherlands flourishes as never before. There is certainly a shift from lead type printing and letterpress to using laser and colour printers. No one dares predict what the situation will be in 25 years’ time but there will certainly still be people who make beautiful books with great care and love, with concern for typography, layout and paper, in many different techniques, and with a certain degree of creativity and exclusivity. (KT/CdW)

Vier uitgaven van De Klencke Pers, Oosterhesselen, 1990-1991

Vier uitgaven van De Klencke Pers, Oosterhesselen, 1990-1991: J.C. Bloem, Clara Eggink, A.A.M. Stols,Vriendschap en verwijdering. Brieffragmenten.1990, wrapper (KB: KW DPA 0248); C. van Dijk,Sjoerd H. de Roos. Vóór zijn letters hem beroemd maakten.1991, titelpagina en frontispice (KB: KW KPA 0385); H.G. Cannegieter,’t Is altijd wat moeilijk over zichzelf te praten. Een gesprek met Jan van Krimpen.1990 (KB: KW DPA 0243); Ernst Braches,Invaart.1990 (KB: KW DPA 0074). (KB)

Leo Vroman,*Achtduizend seizoenen*. Baarn, Atalanta Pers, 1999

Leo Vroman,Achtduizend seizoenen. Baarn, Atalanta Pers, 1999, p. 10-11. MM: pp ned Atalanta 56. (MM)

Bert van Kempen (second from left), in the painters’ class of the trade school Tilburg, 1956

Bert van Kempen (second from left), in the painters’ class of the trade school Tilburg, 1956. KB: KW DPK 1318. (KB)

Bert van Kempen,*Prototype 33: enkele opmerkingen over mijn kennismaking met letters, schrift en boek; over bibliofiel drukwerk en het uitgeven in de marge. *Moergestel, Bert van Kempen, 2003,

Bert van Kempen,*Prototype 33: enkele opmerkingen over mijn kennismaking met letters, schrift en boek; over bibliofiel drukwerk en het uitgeven in de marge. *Moergestel, Bert van Kempen, 2003, title page. KB: KW DPK 1318. (KB)

Charles Ricketts,* Een nieuwe God. *Den Haag, Tight End Press, Canto Pers, 1995

Charles Ricketts,* Een nieuwe God. *Den Haag, Tight End Press, Canto Pers, 1995, p. 8. KB: KW DPA 1366. (KB)