Saturday, 29 November 2008

Tom Paine Press nears completion; Taking Liberties

Yesterday (28th November 2008) I took the train from Euston to Stafford (along the old LNWR route - see my Euston Arch book) to have another meeting with Alan May and have a look at the 'Tom Paine' common press as it nears completion. The day was cold, damp and raw, but I was warmed up by Staffordshire oatcakes and onion soup thoughtfully provided by Alan's wife Judith. The press was in Alan's garage-workshop, where the 'Gutenberg' one-pull press made by Alan for Stephen Fry's TV programme was constructed. Here are some photos I took of the common press, which is modelled on the so-called Benjamin Franklin press dating from the early 18th century.

Last week I went to see the wonderful exhibition Taking Liberties - The Struggle for Britain's Freedoms and Rights - at the British Library ( This is on until 1st March 2009, and includes iconic documents from the BL's collections - from Magna Carta, through the Declaration of Right, Colonel Rainborough's Leveller statement during the Putney Debates, Tom Paine's The Rights of Man, May Wolstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Women, to the Bill of Rights, the Chartists, the Suffragettes to the Human Rights Act.
The exhibition includes a great deal of original printed material - books, documents, posters, etc. - which gives an insight into a wide range of letterpress and relief printing.

1 comment:

Vicki said...

Dear Peter, astounding work. Looks brilliant. We were at the same Alan May lecture this May past. We're building one too - trying to get a chase and the rounce mechanism sorted out at the moment. Don't know if you have met Guy Hutsebaut at the Plantin-Moretus Museum in Antwerp - he wants to have a list of all replica common presses in existence. All the best - Vicki