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No hot metal on this Penguin

04/02/2017

It’s 1957 and those at Penguin, namely Allen Lane, had a problem. The imprint was becoming so successful that print runs of some 50,000 were necessary to keep costs down and the paperbacks affordable. However, Allen Lane also wanted to publish original titles: and the market for these was often small, much smaller than the popular titles that kept the firm afloat (these were the post-war years, years of austerity). Think of the number of formes kept locked up in metal on the hunch a quick re-print might be required. Therefore, film-setting was investigated and Private Angelo became the first book (in England) to be printed entirely on film.

This is recorded in Penrose Annual vol.52 (1958). An article by L.S.F. Elsbury, manager, Fotosetter division, Intertype Ltd., Slough, Bucks, explains: ‘The book chosen was Eric Linklater’s Private Angelo. Sir Allen Lane decided at once to print, apart from the trade edition, a special edition of 2000 copies as a Christmas gift from him and his brother to friends in the trade. Designed by Hans Schmoller, a charming book has been produced. The text is printed on bible paper, the volume is bound in Linson vellum printed in two colours with the spine lettered in gold, and there are special end-papers by David Gentleman.’

Mr Elsbury concludes in [restrained and English-like] rapture: ‘This, then, is a step forward in a new adventure…It may give a new standard of quality to the graphic arts and, if it should be widely used, the combination of filmsetting and offset reproduction could become one of the means to help the industry keep pace with the progress of our times.’

Anyone have a copy of the original limited edition?

[Also referenced: Fifty Penguin Years, Penguin Books, 1985.]

 

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Koko Puschka permalink
    05/02/2017 11:34 am

    Private Angelo was first published in 1946, and then re published in 1957, if I got it right. I did a bit research on it, and I think it is a very lovely story, even to this century of the Anno Domini era because it depicts our searching for inner peace from outer battlefield.

    To define war, then, in this manner, it could mean that we are in the uncertainty or disharmony condition.

    So we have many masterpieces about war, but I think Ukiyo-e from East and 1984 from West stand out most becuase both works carry such powerful raison d’être for learning about human deepest desire for transcendence, especially during the time of perplexity.

    Thank you, John, for this lovely article.

    On Sat, Feb 4, 2017 at 12:10 AM, ALL ABOUT LETTERING wrote:

    > john pitt posted: “It’s 1957 and those at Penguin, namely Allen Lane, had > a problem. The imprint was becoming so successful that print runs of some > 50,000 were necessary to keep costs down and the paperbacks affordable. > However, Allen Lane also wanted to publish original ti” >

    • 05/02/2017 12:41 pm

      Thank you for the comment: the book was re-issued by Penguin in 1957 I guess. Thank you for the clarification.

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