Proprietor, John Randle and Rosalind Randle
(John Randle accepting)
Introductory remarks by Daniel J. Slive
Whittington Press for Matrix: A Review for Printers & Bibliophiles
The 2009 APHA Awards Committee nominates the Whittington Press as the recipient of the APHA Institutional Award in recognition of the press’s renowned journal Matrix: A Review for Printers & Bibliophiles. Issued annually since 1981, Matrix has made distinguished contributions to the study, recording, preservation, and dissemination of printing history, and has done so utilizing a remarkable combination of authoritative scholarship and fine printing.
The Whittington Press was started in 1971 by John and Rosalind Randle in the Cotswold village of Whittington. The founding, according to the Randles, was “the result partly of an early enthusiasm for Caslon type, Albion presses and hand-made paper, and partly the wish to escape from London publishing jobs at the weekend.” The initial product of the press was Richard Kennedy’s A Boy at the Hogarth Press, which was published to general acclaim in 1972. Since that first successful book, the Whittington Press has printed and published over 180 titles including bibliographies, type specimens, collections of illustrations and printed papers, and other books about books. The press has also regularly issued Matrix, now in its twenty-seventh year.
John Randle noted in The Whittington Press, a Bibliography 1971–1981that “Matrix came about partly because we had projects in mind which would not quite make a book, but which nevertheless needed publishing, and partly because, although the Americans had their Fine Print, we in England, with the notable exception of Albion, seem to be poorly provided with a journal devoted to fine printing in its finest sense, from practical printing to book collecting.” The first issue, printed in an edition of 350 copies, consisted of 76 pages. The number of pages included and copies printed have since increased with recent issues of approximately 800 copies containing over 200 pages. In Printing at The Whittington Press, 1972–1994, Mark Batty has described the combination of physical and intellectual content of Matrix that differentiates it from other journals devoted to printing history. “In its pages can be found enormous editorial diversity, and daring and maverick experiments in production in the form of foldouts, tip-ins, bind-ins, specialist papers, and various printing methods for illustrations. This varied content is held together by a consistent design style involving careful and conservative use of typography. This facilitates elegant legibility and a background framework to project the strong editorial.”
Matrix has covered a range of topics in printing history since 1981 including substantial articles on typefaces, typesetting, and founding (including hieroglyphical and hieratic types and exotic typefaces); papermaking, fine papers, and decorated papers from around the world; wood-engraving and other illustration processes including pochoir and autholithography; book design; and major British printers and publishers. As noted above, numerous articles have included specimens of type, paper, and illustrations which have complemented and enhanced the texts. Contributors to Matrix have included significant figures in printing and scholars of printing history (including several APHA laureates). A selective listing of this remarkable gathering of authors includes Nicolas Barker, Sebastian Carter, Roderick Cave, John Dreyfus, Vance Gerry, Jerry Kelly, David McKitterick, Ruari McLean, Henry Morris, James Mosley, Stan Nelson, and William S. Peterson.
In a critical appreciation of the first thirteen issues of Matrix, typographer and printing historian John Dreyfus concluded, “A vast amount of experience is stored up in Matrix. All this can be invaluable to those who have to take decisions about fine printing, either as practitioners, as patrons, or as collectors.” A decade and a half later, Matrix has remained an essential resource for all readers engaged in the study and appreciation of printing.
The awards were presented during the Annual Meeting of the American Printing History Association, on Saturday, January 24, 2009, New York Public Library, Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street, New York City.