Sometimes you discover a story that, as a collector and a bibliophile genuinely gives you hope. The most recent for me would be the story of Fleece Press, a fine arts private press operating from Huddersfield, Great Britain – through which we can still see the spirit of the private presses alive today.
Coming from a family of woodblock printers, Simon Lawrence first took up the challenge of private printing from home after discovering the Whittingdon Press. Since then he has reconditioned and maintained an original Heidelberg letterpress printer, hand designing and making the books for as much of the process as humanely capable. His dedication to his art and his subject matters (pre-War artists, early woodblock prints and the early modern period) is breathtaking.
His volumes now regularly go out of print, almost as soon as they are brought to sale, and have been praised by academics, newspapers and art critics across the United Kingdom. If your collection is interested in the pre-war era of Britain, as well as the tradition of woodblock prints, then it would definitely be added to by owning a Fleece Press edition!
Although not cheap, their unique commitment to skill, subject and craftsmanship is sure to make these editions much sought after in years to come. Tip: try to find the Fleece volumes concerned about war artists!
S.T.E. Lawrence: Boxwood Blockmaker. Fleece Press (1980). 250 copies with 40 wood engravings by 38 engravers such as Gertrude Hermes, Reynolds Stone, Blair Hughes-Stanton, Agnes Miller Parker, Dorothea Braby
Knowles, Richard. The Death of Stothard. Fleece Press (1981). 100 copies; wood engraving by Chris Bayley
Forty-Five Wood Engravers. Fleece Press (1982). 350 copies; 45 wood engravings anfd a Colophon engraving by Miriam Macgregor
Marvell, Andrew. The Press, That Villainous Engine. Fleece Press (1983).
Thomas, Helen. A Memory of W H Hudson. Fleece Press (1984). 300 copies on Arches; wood engraving by Michael Renton
Wilson, Enid. A Lakeland Diary. Fleece Press (1985). 325 copies with woodcut illustrations
Wells, Margaret. Margaret Wells: A Selection of Her Wood Engravings. Fleece Press (1985). 200 copies with 17 engravings; 30 special copies have an additional print in a back pocket
Tute, George. Leon Underwood, His Wood Engravings. Fleece Press (1986). 200 copies; 19 wood engravings printed from original blocks
Donne, J. Mud Walls. Fleece Press (1986). Excerpts from the Sermons of John Donne; 207 copies; illustrated by Jane Lydbury
A Cross Section: The Society of Wood Engravers in 1988. Fleece Press (1988). 225 copies with 44 wood engravings from members of the Society of Wood Engravors
Lawrence, Simon. Surplus Pages from a Cross Section. Fleece Press (1988). The Society of Wood Engravers in 1987; 95 copies; 8 wood engravings
Lee, Brian North. Bookplates by Simon Brett. Fleece Press (1989). 220 copies with 27 Brett engravings; 40 copies signed with a suite of four extra, signed proof engravings
Hodgson, Herbert. Herbert Hodgson, Printer. Fleece Press (1989). Works for TE Lawrence and at Gregynog; 340 copies
Hansard, Luke. The Auto-Biography of Luke Hansard, Written in 1817. Fleece Press (1990). 250 copies with wood engraved vignettes and a signed print by John Lawrence in back pocket
Nash, Paul. Dear Mercia: Paul Nash Letters to Mercia Oakley. Fleece Press (1991). 300 copies; 51 letters; tipped in portraits and line drawings by Nash
Hassall, Joan. Dearest Sydney, Joan Hassall's Letters to Sydney Cockerell from Italy and France. Fleece Press (1991). 220 copies with two facsimiles and three tipped-in photos
James, Angela. The Art of Binding Books. Fleece Press (1991).
Stone, Reynolds. Engraved Lettering in Wood. Fleece Press (1992). 275 copies; 41 examples of lettering on wood by Reynolds Stone
Harvey, Michael. Reynolds Stone, Engraved Lettering in Wood. Fleece Press (1992). 270 copies with block prints in red and black
White, Ethelbert. The Wood Engravings of Etherlbert White. Fleece Press (1992).
Buckland Wright, Christopher. Bathers and Dancers. Fleece Press (1993). the White Line and Silhouette Engravings of John Buckland Wright; 180 copies; 41 prints from the original blocks
Francis, Bacon. Of Gardens. Fleece Press (1993). 220 copies; 6 engravings by Betty Pennell
Buckland Wright, John. Baigneuses. Fleece Press (1995). 240 copies
Knowles, Richard. Cats and Landladies Husbands. Fleece Press (1995). 400 copies with photographic plates; 50 copied have an extra print
Never Be A Bookseller. Fleece Press (1995). 400 copies
Woolnough, C W. A Pretty Mysterious Art. Fleece Press (1996). 300 copies
Selborne, Joanna. Gwen Raverat Wood Engraver. Fleece Press (1996). 300 copies; 75 illustrations, many pulled from original wood blocks; 30 printed on vellum
Blythe, Ronald. First Friends: Paul and Bunty, John and Christine - and Carrington. Fleece Press (1997). 300 copies; 30 plates; drawings by Paul and John Nash; wood engraving by John Nash
Lindsley, Katherine. The Country Life. Fleece Press (1997). 300 copies with 20 wood engravings by Kathleen Lindsley
Lee, Brian North. Bookplates and Labels of Leo Wyatt. Fleece Press (1998).
Brett, Simon. Mr Derrick Harris. Fleece Press (1998). 1919-1960; 280 copies with nine large color illustrations from a children's book by Derrick Harris
Rogerson, Ian. Moods and Tenses: The Portraits and Characters of Peter Reddick. Fleece Press (1999). 220 copies with 30 wood engravings by Reddick
Wright, John Buckland. Surreal Times, The Abstract Engravings and Wartime Letters. Fleece Press (1999). The Abstract Engravings and Wartime Letters, 210 copies with wood engravings
Hassall, Joan. Dearest Joana, A Selection of Joan Hassall's Lifetime Letters and Art. Fleece Press (2001). 300 copies; two vols; engravings, line drawings and engravings throughout; 15 copies with an additional set of 15 engravings printed from wood
Tales from the Bleeding Heart Yard. Fleece Press (2001). Stories About Stanley Lawrence; 310 copies; engravings by Hilary Paynter, Anne Jope, John Lawrence, Leo Wyatt, Barry Moser, and Peter Forster; plus 13 tipped-in plates
The Whole Benefits that Paper Brings. Fleece Press (2002). 285 copies, 100 of which contain paper moulds by Stephen Byrne; engravings by Anthony Christmas
Knowles, Richard. Precious Caskets. Fleece Press (2003). The Friendship of T E Lawrence and William McCance; 240 copies with plates and illustrations
Wright, John Buckland. Endeavors and Experiments. Fleece Press (2004).
Smith, Clare Sydney. The Golden Reign - The Story of My Friendship with Lawrence of Arabia. Fleece Press (2004). 500 copies with c. 45 photographs
Lee, Brian North. Bookplates by Richard Shirley Smith. Fleece Press (2005). 275 copies with original woodblock prints
Yorke, Malcolm. The Inward Laugh, Edward Bawden and His Circle. Fleece Press (2005). 750 copies
Knowles, Richard. The Two Superiors. Fleece Press (2005). The Motor-Cycling Friendship of George Brough and T.E. Lawrence; 300 copies
Rogerson, Ian. Barnett Freedman, the Graphic Art. Fleece Press (2006). 500 copies with a DVD
Rogerson, Ian. The Graphic Work of Barnett Freedman. Fleece Press (2006).
Wright, Christopher Buckland. To Beauty. Fleece Press (2007). John Buckland Wright's Work with Joseph Ishill of the Oriole Press; 246 copies with 16 wood engraved illustrations plus 7 plates
Yorke, Malcolm. To War with Paper and Brush, Captain Edward Ardizzone, Official War Artist. Fleece Press (2007). 700 copies
Ullman, Anne. Eric Ravilious: Landscape, Letters and Design. Fleece Press (2008). 2 vols; 850 copies
Warde, Beatrice. Stanley Morison. Fleece Press. Man of Letters; 240 copies; miniature book