Friday, 21 February 2014
I was introduced to The Herefordshire Pomona by a Folio member, met by chance at an exhibition. It is a masterpiece of chromolithography, and the loveliest fruit book I’ve ever seen. We are embarking on a facsimile edition, and here are a couple of plates before we started work on them. As you can see, the fruit have an almost super-real quality, which comes from their being printed in 8 or 10 colours. The engraved titles are, however, rather broken up, and we will reset them in a matching font. The Pomona features in Michael Twyman’s recent magisterial work A history of chromolithography, and he has volunteered to write an introduction about the printing history of the book. Researches so far in the Woolhope Club in Hereford have unearthed the minutes of the meeting at which the publication was first mooted: the frequent interjections of ‘(hear, hear)’ and ‘(laughter)’ suggest a rather convivial after-dinner gathering of these Victorian gentlemen. There is a drole reference to the Gloria Mundi – the large apple at the centre of plate X above – in the discussion of the format of the volume; ‘if the illustrations were always to represent the exact size of the apples, [Mr Bull] questioned whether a representation of the Gloria Mundi could be got on any page less than quarto (laughter).’ The artist Neil Packer has started work on the binding design, and here is his preliminary rough of one of the fruit, which will be gold blocked on green canvas. Last week I went to Portugal to oversee the production of the leather for binding our facsimile of Goya’s Disasters of War. The original is bound in acid-etched leather, a process unpractical to replicate for 1,000 copies, but the extremely ingenious Joao Carvalho (whose main activity is producing an array of patterned leathers for the fashion industry) came up with a technique which gives a pretty close match. Joao is also a sculptor – in leather, of course – and here is one of his more tasteful creations. The first hand bound copy of the Goya book, together with the prototype presentation box have just arrived in the office. Occasionally I get involved in projects which are nothing to do with Folio. A couple of years ago I received an unexpected phone call from the Royal Mint, asking if I would like to tender designs for a new £2 coin to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Trinity House. I said I’d be delighted, so long as it was in collaboration with David Eccles. After a couple of pints of Guinness for us both and a lot of work by David the design was complete, and following a lengthy selection process we were adjudged the winners. I’m told the coins will become legal tender later this year, so keep checking your change for something like this.