Red letter day. The final proofs of the Vellum Leaves by William de Brailes arrived from Italy. Everyone who sees them says – these are amazing, they’re like real vellum! Yes, because they are real vellum. I’ll be taking them to the Frankfurt Book Fair next week, and look forward to some jaw-dropping reactions from the other facsimile publishers. Meanwhile, I have finally finished positioning the type and photographs in the Japan books. These are a great record of Japanese culture just over a century ago, to all appearances totally unaffected by the West. Here are a couple of pictures that amused me – the postman, and farmers in their raincoats. And, on a more serious note, here is the result of an earthquake in 1891, in which 10,000 people were killed and 20,000 wounded. The caption laconically observes: ‘Earthquakes . . . are feared by everyone except the newly arrived tourist, who seems to enjoy the novelty of the situation.’ Plus ça change! A recurrent problem for books where the photographs and text must be printed on the same paper is finding a stock that suits both – if the paper is chosen to suit the text, the photos tend to look muddy, and if the paper suits the photos, the text area tends to be glaring and unsympathetic. We have sourced a new type of paper that we think will do the trick for this book. Here is a reduced size image of our test proofing document – at the top are two of the standard pages, with different background shades; below them are one of the large photographs and an art print, ‘mounted’ onto coloured papers; at the bottom of the sheets are strips of all the different shades we will be employing for the mounts; finally there are a couple of lines of text newly typeset by us, alongside the original version, for comparison, printed on a further selection of backgrounds. We have been checking these colour proofs at the John Rylands Library in Manchester. Here is a photo of their magnificent reading room.