Happy birthday Caxton Press

A Caxton MiscellanyThe Caxton Press was launched on 10 June 1935 by John Drew and poet/typographer Denis Glover to publish New Zealand literature. Leo Bensemann had a long and fruitful association as a designer and illustrator with Caxton. Most of the decade’s best writers were first published by the company. Caxton Press tells the story on its website:

THE CAXTON CLUB was a colourful group of students, writing enthusiasts and amateur printers which operated a small printing press in the basement of the University Clock Tower, Worcester Street, in the early 1930s. In 1935, renowned New Zealand literary figure Denis Glover, together with a partner, borrowed £100 for a new press and formed The Caxton Press. They set up in an old wooden shop at 129 Victoria St where they stayed for fifteen years.

In 2013, Central Library Peterborough hosted A Caxton Miscellany – a Christchurch Art Gallery exhibition (see our photos). And in a timely echo, The Art of the Dust Jacket –  another most excellent Christchurch Art Gallery exhibition at Central Library Peterborough – is running from 30 May to 14 July 2014). No doubt many titles are from the Caxton Press.

1953 copy of The Group catalogue
1953 copy of The Group catalogue [1.5MB PDF]
One of the gems of our digital collection are The Group Catalogues, 1927 — 1977 as printed by Caxton Press. You can see their exquisite work closeup.

More on the Caxton Press

Denis Glover, founder of Caxton Press, with Book Week display in Alexander Turnbull Library. Further negatives of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: EP/1963/3385/9A-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23233944
Denis Glover, founder of Caxton Press, with Book Week display in Alexander Turnbull Library. Further negatives of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: EP/1963/3385/9A-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23233944

 

Showing out: the 1886 Canterbury A&P exhibition

We’ve just digitised the programme for the 1886 Grand November Show : to be held in the grounds of the Association, Colombo Street, Christchurch. This was the last show held in Sydenham, in 1887 it moved to Addington, then in 1997 it moved to Wigram.

Delving into the programme, I note the General regulation number 9 states: Persons in charge of Machinery worked by steam power must use coke. Hmmm. And number 30 consoles childless cows and sheep with the possibility of winning a prize for being fat:

Any Cow or Ewe which is barren shall not be eligible to take a Prize, except in the Fat Stock classes.

There are some Private Prizes on offer too. I quite like the Lyttelton Times Cup for the best sample of Hams and Bacon. I wonder if there was a super fry up after (or before) judging. This would have gone quite nicely with the prize for the best assortment of pickles.

I include this advertisement from the programme. It shows the classic Victorian typeface pileup which I love (follow my posts on the 1902 Tourists’ guide to Canterbury for more typographic gems).

Joseph Churchward – New Zealand’s man of fonts

CoverIn the list of Queen’s Birthday Honours was the following Queen’s Service Medal:

Mr Joseph CHURCHWARD, of Wellington.
For services to typography.

With those letters, a man of letters was recognised, and honoured. Joseph has had an astonishing career. He has handcrafted over 570 original typefaces and this makes him the world’s most prolific typeface designer.

There was a lovely item celebrating him on TVNZ: More letters for NZ typographer. He talked about some of his fonts including Marianna, named after his daughter:

Mari­anna was fat in those days and it was a fat design … You were plumpy … it was plumpy.

Meena Kadri‘s article Full character set on Churchward, and the book about him by David Bennewith, reveals a character that New Zealand should cherish:

Unabated by less favour­able recep­tion to his typo­graphic endeav­ours, Church­ward has pur­sued unso­li­cited design work through­out his career. He dili­gently dis­patched these typo­graphic ‘sug­ges­tions’ to tele­vi­sion net­works, polit­ical parties and gov­ern­ment depart­ments. The book’s inclu­sion of some of the rejec­tion let­ters to this approach serve as a testi­mony of his ded­ic­a­tion to a life of let­ters and let­ter­forms – and amus­ingly includes a polite reply from the Rugby Union man­ager in 1998, set in Comic Sans.

Congratulations to Joseph on his well deserved honour.

Find out more at Christchurch City Libraries:

More about Joseph Churchward: