Fine printing, fine dining

Posted on 16th January 2014 by simonbeattie

Sir Sydney Roberts, Secretary of Cambridge University Press, 1922–48, writes: ‘The early 1920s were marked by a typographical renaissance which had a notable influence upon book-production; or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the war interrupted a movement which had already begun …  It is true that during the ’nineties new standards had been applied to the printing of poetry and belles-lettres, but it was not till after the war that publishers as a whole began to recognise that the basic principles of book-design could, and should, be exemplified as clearly in a half-crown textbook as in a three-guinea édition de luxe …

‘One by-product of the movement was a dining club—the Double Crown.  The first president was Holbrook Jackson and in 1924 I was invited to join the original committee in company with Frank Sidgwick (founder of Sidgwick and Jackson); Hubert Foss (manager of the music department of the Oxford Press); Oliver Simon (of the Curwen Press); G. Wren Howard (director of Jonathan Cape); and Gerard Meynell.  The raison d’être of the club was quite simply defined as the exchange of ideas on good printing and the rules provided that it should meet for dinner not more than six and not less than four times a year …  The main purpose of the club was amply fulfilled.  For each dinner one member was made responsible for the typography of the menu …’ (Adventures with Authors, pp. 67–8).  The Club still exists today.  For a full account, see James Moran, The Double Crown Club: a history of fifty years (1974).

The photo above is of a collection of over 200 Double Crown Club menus and invitations  I shall be exhibiting at the forthcoming California International Antiquarian Book Fair, in Pasadena, 7–9 February.

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