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Barbarian Press
Past Publications

Wood engraving by Andy English
(from The Eve of St. Agnes, 2003)

Many of the titles published by Barbarian Press in the past are now out of print. Descriptions and publication details of some of those titles are available here for your perusal.

Please note that all of these books are

Cover scan

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Founts & Circumstance

A typographical portfolio of display and titling faces in grand isolation & in company

July 2002


Every designer and compositor loves to play with odd typefaces, combining the mad with the austere, the sluttish with the prim, the gargantuan with the dainty. Over the years we have acquired quite a number of display and titling faces. Moreover, we were recently given a small but delicious selection of such faces by a friend. It seemed a propitious time to play with type again.

Some of these faces are useful favourites, well-made and beautifully designed, and have seen service in many ways; others are too quirky, too large, or too dated to be useful in regular work. But as a desperately literate mother once said to us of the rowdy and unconstrained mob that was her family, “It seems a shame to hide their bushels in the outward darkness.” Their bushels are therefore to be dragged into the inner light, as we present an array of both familiar and unfamiliar faces in display, and in use with a selection of texts.

Founts & Circumstance was first announced in 1999, then scheduled for publication in the summer of 2001. Various delays (paper shipments, problems with dampening paper which required sorting out, repairs to a press, and commitments to other work) delayed the project, and it is finally published in July, 2002, in an edition of 58 sets for sale, with an additional eight ‘encore’ sets made up from overruns. It comprises showings of fourteen featured display faces in a dozen broadsheets, several of them folded. They are printed on a selection of handmade and mouldmade papers, including a Kelmscott paper handmade by Joseph Batchelor and Sons in about 1900; a vintage English mouldmade from Turkey Mill circa 1930; the rare Barcham Green Eltham handmade, as well as two other Barcham Green papers; Velké Losiny Prague, a lovely hand-made Czech paper; and Rideau Cream laid handmade from the St. Armand Mill in Montreal. There are also mouldmades from St. Armand, the Zerkall mill in Germany, and Somerset papers in England. Two of the broadsheets are in fact pairs of broadsheets, for two very large wood types – Gill Shadow (matched with Dutch Initials) and an elaborate and apparently unissued face called Hamilton Class S Script – which required more space than one sheet would allow; each of these pairs is contained in a labelled folder.

The sheets range in size from the smallest, 15 ½ by 20 inches, to the largest folded sheets which measure 22 by 30 inches when opened out. Each sheet gives an alphabetical showing of the display or titling face under consideration and a setting of a text with the featured face used for titling or display. These faces are Castellar, Fry’s Ornamented, Modernistic & Chic, Tiern, Atrax, Perpetua, Demeter, Egmont Decorated Initials, Hamilton Class S Script, Delphian, Dutch Initials, Gill Sans Shadow and Open Kapitalen. The texts vary wildly: a letter by William Cowper, a poem by Sappho in Greek and English, a mediæval lyric in Middle English with a modern “translation”, the opening of St. John’s Gospel in the King James version and the vulgate Latin, a synopsis of Carmen in mangled Euro-English from an Italian opera house, a selection from Whitman’s Song of Myself, a passage from Sir Thomas Browne, and many more. Each sheet is printed in at least two colours.

To complete the set, there is an oversized 12-page pamphlet of notes which offers a brief essay on display and titling faces and gives historical background on the types. These notes, printed in double column in many colours, also feature full showings of nearly a dozen display or titling faces not used in the broadsheets, and further include a great many drop caps and initials. The Acknowledgements and Colophon for the set, signed by the printer and designer, are at the end of the Notes. They are side-stabbed and laced into covers of St. Armand Turquoise Flax mouldmade paper with a label. Finally, there is a title sheet with a signed and numbered kallitype (a contact-printed photograph on hand-made paper treated with emulsion, exposed by sunlight) by Canadian photographer David Evans, whose recent book, Beyond the Mountains, appeared to considerable acclaim in 1999.

Sets of the original edition were housed in a scarlet clamshell box with printed spine label and a label on the upper cover. The edition was 58 copies, and these were designated by the inclusion in the lower inside right-hand corner of each box of an upper or lower-case letter or figure sort of 72pt. Bembo. The price was C$950/US$680. This edition was completely sold out before publication. However, because of the difficulties of registration, inking and dampening, many more sheets were pulled than were required for the edition, and as we kept receiving requests for copies long after the 58 designated sets were sold, we have gone through the overruns and have been able to make up eight more sets of what we are calling the “Encore Edition”.


ENCORE EDITION. These differ from the original edition in three significant ways: they are contained in a stiff paper folder with a label, rather than a box; they include a specially designed and printed cancel title sheet rather than the original sheet with the kalligraph; and the Notes in most copies have covers of Somerset Antique or Newsprint, not St. Armand. In every other respect the contents, including the notes, are the same as those of the main edition.
PRICE: C$850/US$590.     OUT OF PRINT


The broadsheets in Founts & Circumstance are listed below, with photographs of each one by David Evans. For interest’s sake, and for completeness, we also include an illustration of the Atrax broadsheet, which is out of print, and the title sheet with the kallitype, which is not available for sale.

Please note: These are not seconds; they are identical to the sheets in the complete sets. Because of the difficulties of registration and inking on many of these sheets, we overprinted considerably in order to be sure of completing the edition. These overruns are the result. Sizes are W by H. Click on thumbnails for a larger view.

1) Sappho. The moon has set... Translated by Crispin Elsted.
Open Kapitalen on Kelmscott handmade (1898). 15 by 20 inches. Purple, gold, and black. Linocuts by Nancy Campbell.
C$125; approx. US$98

2) Exeter Riddle Book. 6 Riddles. Translated by Crispin Elsted.
Tiern with Romulus on Turkey Mill mouldmade (c. 1930). 15 ¾ by 24 ½ inches. Orange and black. Six images designed in runic style by Crispin Elsted, drawn by Abigail Rorer.

3) William Cowper. A Letter to a Friend.
Fry’s Ornamented and Caslon on Velké Losiny Prague handmade. 23 by 16 ½ inches. Blue and black.
C$100; approx. US$86

4) Walt Whitman. From Song of Myself.
Atrax and Goudy Catalogue on St. Armand Peat Moss mouldmade. 30 by 22 inches. Red, blue, and black.

5) Sir Thomas Brown. From Religio Medici
Castellar & Bembo on Barcham Green Eltham handmade. 23 by 18 inches. Red and black.
C$125; approx. US$98

6) Anonymous. ‘Carmen’ synopsis.
Erasmus Inline, Demeter, and Garamont on Barcham Green Tovil handmade. 15 ½ by 20 ½ inches. Orange and black. Monotype ornaments & cut.
C$100; approx. US$78

7) Henry King. A Contemplation of Flowers.
Egmont Decorated Initials and Poliphilus on Opus Watermedia paper. 15 by 22 ¼ inches. Light orange, moss green and black. Drawing by Hélène Francœur printed from a line-block and hand-coloured
Original price C$110. Now C$80

8) St. John. John I, 1-13.
Perpetua Light Titling with Perpetua on Somerset Book mouldmade paper. 26 by 19 inches. Blue, red, black and gold. Calligraphic initial by Irene Alexander.

9) Lewis Carroll (Charles L. Dodgson). 2 broadsheets.
A. Jabberwocky.
24-line Hamilton Class S Script, Bembo roman and italic and Calligraphia on Somerset Newsprint mouldmade. Light and dark green.

B. Showing of 24-line Hamilton Class S Script. Yellow and blue on Somerset Newsprint mouldmade. Both 30 by 22 inches.

10) Crispin Elsted.Salt [#10 from Kenfield Variations].
Delphian and Van Dijck on Barcham Green Hayle handmade. 15 ½ by 20 ½ inches. Sepia, brown and black.
C$100; approx. US$86

11) The Gawain Poet. 3 broadsheets.
A. From Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Original Middle English and modern English version by Crispin Elsted.
24-line Gill Sans Shadow with Bembo; Dutch initials with Goudy Text, Old English Engraver’s text, Poliphilus and Blado; 22 by 30 inches; green, red and black.
C$125; approx. US$108

B. Showing of Gill Sans Shadow in maroon and yellow.

C. Showing of Dutch Initials with Cancelleresca Bastarda in burgundy and black; 15 by 22 inches. All three on Somerset Antique mouldmade.
C$75; approx. US$60

12) Anonymous. Menus [Selected items from continental European menus in approximations of English].
Modernistic, Chic and Peignot on St. Armand Rideau Cream laid handmade. 24 by 18 inches. Pink, pale blue and black. Cartouches printed from polymers after pastel drawings     OUT OF PRINT

NOTES & COMMENTS, PERSONAL AND HISTORICAL. Essay on display and titling faces, with comprehensive notes on each of the 12 sheets in the set. Considerable type lore and historical commentary.
12-page pamphlet (15 ½ by 22 ½ inches) side-stabbed and laced with jute cord into covers of Somerset Newsprint or Antique mouldmade, with label on upper cover. 14 point Garamont with profuse examples of other titling and display faces, in multiple colours.     OUT OF PRINT