‘Probably the strangest private press of all time’

Posted on 23rd April 2013 by simonbeattie

As today is Shakespeare’s birthday(/deathday), I thought I’d post a rare piece of Shakespeareana:

This little book, printed in Darmstadt in 1912 in an edition of only 200 copies, is the sixth book to be produced by ‘probably the strangest private press of all time’ (Horodisch).

It was run by Gottlieb von Koch (1849–1914), a zoologist and artist who had an interest in education.  The dozen or so books produced by the press, which ran from 1911 to 1914, were all printed by children, under the guidance of the printer–typographer Christian Heinrich Kleukens, who gave them weekly instruction.  For Pyramus und Thisbe, a reworking of Shakespeare’s play within a play by Koch himself, a sans serif (grotesk) typeface is used, which was highly unusual for the time in German education.

On the background, see A. Horodisch, ‘Eine unbekannte deutsche Presse’, Zeitschrift für Bücherfreunde XXXVI (1932), pp. 103–5.

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