More of the Same

Continuing our examination of contemporary limited edition books from trade publishers, an example each of how to & how not to...

I recently found a copy of this catalogue of books published by the Kaldewey Press. Very attractive book, well designed & printed in Germany, bound in flexible boards. I confess to not having ever heard of Gunnar Kaldewey or his press, which is based in New York, and it's re-assuring to know there are still surprises out there for me in the world of contemporary presses. One reason I may not have known of his work is because it's more on the artist's book side of the spectrum, where I don't generally travel. A big part of my lack of interest for the over-there is that, too often the phrase "artist's book" is used as an excuse for a lack of understanding and poor execution. This is not the case with Kaldewey: the creativity and artistry are based on a strong technical foundation, and an appreciation for materials and how to work with them. But to the point: this is how you complement a trade edition with a limited version. (No copies can be found listed online.)

Next we have the how-not: heard an interview with Francis Ford Coppola on Fresh Air over the weekend. A (sort-of) facsimile of the bible (my word) he assembled while planning and shooting The Godfather has been published. I wondered if there was a limited edition - seems a likely candidate - so I searched. Sure enough, there is.

First off, the trade edition - which is almost 800 pages - is being issued only in paperback. That's ridiculous, especially for the page count. But what really makes this a head slapper is that the limited edition is "a faithful reproduction of Coppola’s three-ring binder..." This is a rare example of a publisher finding an even cheaper, shittier way to "bind" an edition than the paperback! Do you remember from high school what three-ring binders do to sheets? They get caught on the rings & torn up! Another warning sign that a publisher really doesn't know what they're doing is the complete lack of descriptive production details about the limited edition, starting with the number of copies.


Bed's Too Big...

Saw this in a local "emporium." Caught my eye because book presses aren't often seen around here, and also because the parts seems so out of proportion from each other: why is the base so much bigger than the platen?At first I wondered if it was a Frankenstein's monster, with maybe just the platen being original and the rest ginned up in a metal shop. But there's (faded) scrollwork on the frame, it all looks legit. Why two colors, and why is that base so big? It adds so much weight without apparent purpose. The platen can accommodate at best a small quarto. I'm wondering if it's a copy press, and the larger base is for spreading out (say) a folio document, to be copied one side at a time? Dunno. (But speaking of copy presses, check this out; what every well heeled gent needs...) If anyone wants more photos or info, don't panic: this will be in the shop for a long time, because they've priced it at C$1,295. Good luck with that.


Finally have another batch of Aurora Teardrops (Collector issue) ready to ship out. The cover paper is Guarro laid, from the huge c.1960s stash I've been working my way through. I've never had a use for this yellow sheet before, but it was perfect for Aurora. The paper is quite hard, which makes it ideal for covering boards. It also took the painting treatment well.

Each sheet was individually painted (I use that term loosely) in a two-stage process. First, a sheet was thoroughly soaked in water, and laid out on an acrylic board. As much surface water was retained/sustained as possible. Then metallic gold ink mixed with thinner was dripped on the sheet. Because oil and water don't mix, the gold ink flowed around in random patterns. Then the sheets were dried (that takes about a day), soaked a second time, and sprinkled with metallic bronze acrylic paint diluted in water. The area covered with gold ink repelled the water-based paint, resulting in a two-tone "marbled" effect.