Fine presses


Old Stile Press, Monmouthshire, Wales, UK

The Old Stile Press… in the Twentieth Century (A Bibliography 1979–1999), 2000




'The Old Stile Press' illustrates the development and work achieved at the Old Stile Press between the years 1979, when it was established, and 1999. Chapters of the book include its history and bibliography, as written and compiled by Dorothy A. Harrop, and the Press’s inspirations and its methods, written by Peter Wakelin. Further writings include accounts by Frances McDowall, and the company’s proprietor, Nicolas McDowall.

Nicolas McDowall began to journal his experience at the Press in 1980. He had become ‘intoxicated’ by the printing process after attending a printmaking weekend at the Whittington Press in 1979. With a previous background in publishing, McDowall at first printed his own book before beginning to acquire equipment and type over three years. The Old Stile Press includes examples of the establishment’s work, with texts and images printed for authors including Robert Buchanan, George MacKay-Brown, Edward Lear, Ted Hughes, Eric Williams, and Lucy Crane.

136 pages, 289 x 214mm. The book is set in Joanna type and was designed and assembled by Nicolas McDowall at The Old Stile Press, Monmouthshire. It was printed on Five Seasons Paper by the Premiere Press Ltd, Cheltenham. Most of the book is printed in black and white, but there is a segment on pages 3340 which include coloured photographs of The Old Stile Press’s work.

Edition of 1000 copies. The cover art is a wash-drawing designed for the publication by Clive Hicks-Jenkins, and the book was bound by Woolnough Bookbinding Ltd. Covered with acetate wrapper. Dedicated to Nell McDowall.

£40 (plus P&P and insurance)

Faithful John, 1998

By the Brothers Grimm, translated by Lucy Crane.
Wood engravings by Harry Brockway.




Within the covers of Grimm’s Household Tales lurk stories of peculiar power and perennial attraction. Despite the fact that many pantomime plots have been drawn from this source, children’s stories most of them simply are not – rather they offer material for endless reinterpretation and a feeling that hidden truths are there to be disinterred by the wise. Faithful John is one of the best, most complicatedly wrought and, more than most, liberally filled with apparent parables. The three ravens who haunt the attempts of the young prince to woo the beautiful princess, the faithful servant whose selfless acts are misinterpreted to the point of his being executed, whereupon his lifeless body turns to stone and can only be redeemed by child sacrifice... which in turn is reversed by the power of faith... fascinating stuff. Quite the stuff, too, to draw a set of incredibly powerful images from the engraving tools of Harry Brockway. They are made all the more powerful because of the demands made by the unusual shape of all except the frontispiece – 198 x 34mm.

34 pages, 270 x 175mm. 220 copies, signed by the artist and 26 special copies, lettered A–Z, which include a portfolio containing signed proofs of each of the wood engravings, printed by the artist on Japanese paper.

Standard Edition £120 (plus P&P and insurance)

Special Edition £250 (plus P&P and insurance)


Jubilate Agno, 2012
By Christopher Smart. Woodcut and linocut images and an afterword by Angela Lemaire




Christopher Smart (1722–1771) was a major poet of great learning. Fascinated by the occult and the supernatural and Freemasonry, his poetry ranged over subjects which earned him a reputation of being mad. The Jubilate Agno is an edition of ‘Kit’ Smart’s wild and wonderful hymn of yearning and adoration for Creation in all its multifarious detail. It expresses his exuberance and overflows with his enthusiasms and blessings. He began writing this work in 1759 when his ‘wild behaviour’ (which now we might call a nervous breakdown) had caused him to be locked up in St Luke’s Hospital for the Insane. In his praise of all Creation he lists people, animals, birds, insects, fish, all of whom are blessed. His knowledge of the natural world is encyclopeadic and nothing is omitted! A section of it provides the text for Benjamin Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb – a cantata which will be familiar to many if only for the music about ‘my cat Jeoffry’. Angela Lemaire writes that she sees Smart, in one particular woodcut in the book, as a singing bird glimpsed through the obstructing branches of a tree.

The book came about after an encounter by Frances and Nicholas McDowall of The Old Stile Press with a copy of the Gutenberg Bible and it can be said that the design, the imagery, the palette of rich colours were all influenced strongly by that early masterpiece of printing with moveable type which was enhanced by the decorations of scribes. There are woodcuts and linocuts throughout the text, some are printed in more than one colour, some in a single colour; there are initial capitals among the pages arranged in two columns, all to pay tribute to the design of Gutenberg.

Paper is 225gsm Paper is 225gsm Vélin Arches. Type is Truesdell. Woodcut and linocuts printed directly from the blocks cut by Angela Lemaire. Seven different colours of ink are employed in the printing. The book is bound with a suede spine and its sides are covered in terracotta paste papers printed in gold and silver designed by Nicolas McDowall using Angela Lemaire’s blocks. For the main edition there is a slipcase lined with suede and a printed label of ‘my cat Jeoffry’.

380 x 290mm. The Main Edition consists of 100 copies, numbered and signed by the artist.

£325 (plus P&P and insurance)

The Third Thing, 2013

A selection of poems with woodcuts by Ralph Kiggell




Poems by Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens, Padraic Colum and John Masefield alongside those of contemporary poets from Thailand, Australia and the US have been chosen by Ralph Kiggell and provide the inspiration for his woodcuts. Words and images together convey the many ways in which water provides and sustains all of life on earth.

The title is derived from D.H. Lawrence’s wonder at the unknowable ‘third thing’ that results from the combining of one oxygen atom with two of hydrogen.

Ralph Kiggell’s blocks were printed from the wood in four colours with a separate block for the text. The book was case-bound at the Fine Bindery with papers printed with the artist’s images and the chemise is cloth covered and has a printed label.

56 pages, 330 x 285mm. Velin Arches 250gsm paper. Edition of 138. Numbered and signed by the artist.

£340 (plus P&P and insurance)