The Alembic Press

General Info

Based in Abingdon in Oxford, and run by Claire and David Bolton. In its earlier homes of Edinburgh, Winchester and then Marcham (Oxford), the press produced limited edition books by traditional letterpress, and ran letterpress printing, binding and typecastingworkshops, and offered an apprentice programme. In 2010 the press downsized with a move to Abingdon, discarding the Albion, Vandercook and Arab but keeping much of its type, and the smaller presses, and also keeping all the Monotype casting equipment. It still offers printing and typecasting workshops, and continues to print small ephemeral items, but now concentrates on researching early printing practice.

Press and Type Info

Alembic have a Farley cylinder proof press, a Sigwalt Model 4 and one Adana 8x5, one HS3 and one 5x3 table-top press, as well as a range of metal and wooden type, all in Abingdon, and an Adana 8x5 and Sovereign proof press in Cowaramup, Western Australia, together with some metal and wood type. There are also two Monotype pneumatic keyboards, two Monotype Composition casters and one Monotype Super caster, plus a range of matrices for composition faces, and a wide range of border units, all in Oxford. The Press is also part of the Dürer Press Group, owning and running a wooden common press, currently held at St Bride Institute, London.

Printing Type Specimens

  • A Border Specimen: A specimen book of the Monotype border matrices held and cast by the Alembic Press, including a short history of borders, and a brief chronology of Monotype ones.516 different borders. Set in Bembo. 107pp. 2000
  • A Border Supplement: specimens of 102 further border units. Set in Bembo. 16pp. 2003
  • A Sign Specimen: A type specimen of 1267 sign and symbol matrices held by the Press, with a chapter on usage. Set in Modern Extended. 88pp. 2009
  • Delittle 1888-1895 the First Years: History of the beginnings of this wood-letter manufacturer, with specimens. Set in Caslon. 63pp. 1988
  • Delittle, an English Wood-Letter Manufacturer: Brief history, with a checklist of wood type specimens held in St Bride Library. Set in Kennerley. 28pp. 1981
  • Caxton's Indulgence of 1476: Facsimile of Caxton's first dated item of printing in England. Set in Caslon and Caxton Black. 10ff. 1995
  • Printing in Oxford and Leiden: Boxed set of contributions, the Alembic Press’s being The first Oxford Leiden printing link in 1637. Set in Caslon. 15pp. 1990
  • 24 line Antique Bold: full alphabet specimen. 20ff. 2003
  • 16 line Two Colour Shaded Sans: full alphabet specimen. 10pp. 2002
  • Settings of 6pt Type: 14 faces in different settings. 32pp. 2002
  • 8 line Atlas Text: full alphabet specimen. 28pp. 2001
  • 14 line Tuscan: full alphabet specimen. 18pp. 2001
  • 3 line Antique (Extremely) Expanded: full alphabet specimen. 12pp. 2001
  • 40 line Poynder: full alphabet specimen. 18pp. 2001
  • A Little Alphabet: alphabet book set in 4 line Sans Bold and 48pt Sans. 32pp. 1999
  • A Granjon Arabesque: exploration of Monotype Arabesque units 310-315. Text set in Old Style. 72pp. 1998
  • Set of six 6-line wood type alphabets, each 32pp. 1997
  • 6x6 Wood Type No.6: Sans Bold Italic
  • 6x6 Wood Type No.5: Winchester Condensed
  • 6x6 Wood Type No.4: Sans Condensed
  • 6x6 Wood Type No.3: Round Serif
  • 6x6 Wood Type No.2: Playbill
  • 6x6 Wood Type No.1: Old Style Italic
  • A Little Black Book: Type specimens of 14 black letter faces. Set in Spectrum. 64pp. 1995
  • Specimens of Wood Type: 46 full fount specimens of wood type held at the Press. 50ff. 1993
  • A Small Collection of Fists: Specimens of fists (fingers). Set in Modern Italic. 47pp. 1990
  • A 40 line Wood Letter Alphabet: Full alphabet specimen of Antique Elongated. 34pp. 1986
  • Alembic Press Metal Types: one line specimens of 78 faces. 21pp. 1982
  • Type Specimen Three: specimens of 19 type faces. Set in Bembo. 28pp. 1982
  • Thackeray's Alphabet: alphabet book of 13 wood type faces. Set in Kennerley. 33pp. 1980
  • Additional Types: specimens of typefaces. Set in Bembo. 16pp. 1979
  • Type Specimen Book: specimens of 26 type faces. Set in Bembo. 36pp. 1978

Bookbinding, Marbling/Pasting, Papermaking Paper Specimens

  • A Winchester Bookshop and Bindery: A short history of Wells bookshop and attached bindery since the early 18th century. Set in Caslon. 80pp. 1991
  • Kleisterpapier/Paste Paper: An in-depth study of traditional paste papers by Susanne Krause. 30 samples. Dual German and English text set in Garamond. 60pp. 2002
  • Fancy Papers: 34 samples of the 1950s Sanderson range and their current replacement, together with a brief history of decorated papers. Set in Ehrhardt. 31pp. 2001
  • Griffen Mill: The history of this paper mill with its unique reputation for the production of specialist papers. Text by Chris Laver-Gibbs, set in Garamond. 12 paper samples. 44pp. 1999
  • Miniature Pastepapers: describes and displays the range of Claire Maziarczyk's pastepapers especially developed for miniature books. Set in Old Style. 36pp. 1998
  • Compton Marbling Portfolio of Patterns: Compton Marbling custom patterns, with descriptive texts. Looseleaf. Set in Kennerley. 19ff. 1992
  • Maziarczyk Paste Papers: 19 samples of Claire Maziarczyk's paste papers, with descriptive text and recipes. Set in Spectrum. 54pp. 1991
  • Payhembury Marbled Papers: a history and 26 samples. Set in Caslon. 46pp. 1987
  • The Compton Marbling Pattern Book: a history and 27 samples of oil marble papers. Set in Kennerley. 46pp. 1986
  • Flax Papers: John Gerard on making paper from flax. 12 tipped-in samples, plus text, end, and cover papers all made from flax. Set in Plantin. 36pp. 1996
  • From Seed to Sheet: with samples of seed, thread, paper, flower. Set in Craw Clarendon. 34pp. 1997
  • Awa Gami: Japanese handmade papers from the Fuji Mills, Tokushima. History and samples. Set in Spectrum. 60pp. 1992
  • Beer will help your Shake: Text by Peter Thomas of an interview with Harry Glanville of Wookey Hole Mill. Set in Caslon. 32pp. 1990
  • Isis Papyrus: with samples of papyrus plant and paper. Set in Bell. 32pp. 1990
  • Plant Papers' Paper Plants: the plant papers of Maureen Richardson, with 14 samples. Set in Kennerley. 59pp. 1989
  • Handmade Papers of India: by Nigel Macfarlane, history and description of papers with 11 samples. Set in Kennerley. 14pp. 1987
  • Handmade Papers of the Himalayas: by Nigel Macfarlane, history and description of papers, printed on nine different papers. 30pp. 1986
  • Up Mill: a history and 1696 inventory. Set in Caslon. 37pp. 1984
  • Papermaking in Nepal: by Robert Smith, printed on Nepali paper. Set in Kennerley. 11pp. 1984

Contact Details

01235 525 227

Printing Presses