A Private Press
The Quarto Press is a ‘private press’ – it’s not a commercial printer or publisher, but run for fun, not profit. Many private presses produce high-quality limited-edition books in traditional typefaces, but the press has focused instead on the more exuberant area of ephemera – ‘throwaway’ – printing using a wide range of faces, and poetry booklets produced in very different styles and faces to suit the nature of the poetry.
Established in 1963 – while the proprietor John B Easson was a student at St.Andrews – the press moved to London for many years, but returned to Scotland in 2004.
Main work – The press printed publicity material, posters, programmes, and tickets, for over 25 years for the large West London annual carnival in Hanworth, and programmes for the Barnes Youth Theatre group for many years, as well as numerous items for other organisations.
Scottish Poetry Reprints – A series of academic reprints of rare Scottish poetry texts edited by Professor Ross Roy.
Modern Poetry booklets – Poetry by modern (usually previously unpublished) authors. Whilst these did not aim to earn the poets a fortune, they were not ‘vanity’ publications, the poets did get paid (a pittance). The aim was to help the poets raise their profile. The late poet Brian Louis Pearce was the editor for most of the books.
Specimen Sheets – A project in progress is a set of specimen sheets of the typefaces held at the press, in SRA3 format, with each sheet in a different style. The 40 sheets produced so far show about 200 different typefaces. See illustrations above and below.
Poetry & Posters – A few sheets of poetry and posters produced for various real events are available.
A Labour of Love
From the start, the press aimed to use less common type styles and to be able to work in diverse ways. Almost all of the work has been done by hand-assembling the letters in traditional style, and they are then re-distributed back to be reused again and again, for decades. The printing presses used are hand-fed a sheet at a time, and each colour requires a separate printing.