[W. S. Cowell Limited, Ipswich printers.] The firm's 'Address Book', containing thousands of signatures of British printers, publishers, artists and book illustrators over a forty-year period, sumptuously-bound with unique printed prelims.

W. S. Cowell Limited, Ipswich printers [Beatrice Warde; Ruari McLean; Francis Meynell; Sebastian Carter (Rampant Lions Press); Charles Batey; Brooke Crutchley; Hans Schmoller; Ralph Steadman]
Publication details: 
W. S. Cowell Limited, 8 Butter Market, Ipswich, Suffolk, England; 23 Percy Street, London, W.1. Dating from between 7 June 1952 to 20 March 1991.
SKU: 15216

Founded in 1818, the Ipswich firm of W. S. Cowell Ltd ('The Press in the Butter Market') grew into one of the leading British printers, known for its high-quality catalogue work. The firm's papers are in the Suffolk Record Office at Ipswich, whose catalogue entry provides a good summary of its history. Substantial folio volume (36 x 26 x 6cm), bound in red goatskin, with olive leather 16 x 10cm insert on front cover, stamped in gold leaf with the firm's seahorse device and the words 'VISITORS BOOK', and olive label on spine with same title; marbled endpapers and inner hinges strengthened with red cloth. Containing thousands of signatures, mainly of leading figures within the British printing and publishing industries, usually also giving their addresses or the names of their firms, with visits to the firm's premises by organisations including the publishers Longmans, the London College of Printers, Shell-Mex and British Petroleum, Anglia Television, the New York Botanical Garden and HMS Ganges. Internally in good condition, on lightly-aged paper, with the first few signatures a little loose. The sumptuous binding is in need in refurbishment: its front hinge is sprung, and the corners and head and tail of the spine are worn, and there is slight damage to one of the raised bands on the spine, which is in five compartments. Five pages of prelims have been printed by the firm uniquely for the volume: a title-page (again 'VISITORS BOOK', and with 'W. S. Cowell Limited' at foot beneath the firms device printed in black against a pink oval background) and page of addresses, followed by a three-page introduction, describing the background to the book, and signed in type 'W. S. COWELL LIMITED'. It begins: 'This Visitors Book has an honourable history. It began its existence - not as a visitors book but as a Dummy Volume for the Royal Philatelic Collection - the most interesting book ever printed by us. [...] It was about 1947 that Mr Winchester decided to put the idea before King George VI and, having spent some time preparing this "dummy" he submitted it to the King, [...]'. A description of the work designing and preparing the book follows, concluding: 'The binding was carried out by seven or eight craft binding companies, in Nigerian goatskin - the best skin for the purpose in the Commonwealth. The book has 568 pages, 14 ½ in. by 10 ½ in., and weighs 14 ½ lb. | It required a whole goatskin to bind one copy. The Royal Arms on the front cover and the lettering on the spine are in real gold leaf. | [...] The only alterations to this dummy have been the removal of the Royal Arms, the substitution of the Seahorse on the cover, and of course the inclusion of a title page and this introduction.' In addition to the snapshot it gives of the British printing and publishing industries over a period of forty years, the volume emphasizes the firm's involvement with the leading English book artists and illustrators of the period, including John Nash (2), Edward Bawden (2), Edward Ardizzone (3), Charles Mozley (styling himself 'The best English Lithographer 1962'), David Gentleman (2), Ralph Steadman; Robin Jacques, John Craxton, the calligrapher Alfred Fairbank and the illustrator of the James Bond books Richard W. Chopping (2). The first page, dated Saturday 7 June 1952, carries the signatures of Queen Mary of Teck ('Mary'), Viscountess Mary Lascelles Boyne ('Margaret Boyne') and the banker Sir Thomas Maltby Bland ('Tom Bland'). Among the printers and publishers represented are the Oxford University printer Charles Batey; Cambridge University printer Brooke Crutchley, the typographers Beatrice Warde, Ruari McLean, the printer-poet Francis Meynell, Sebastian Carter of the Rampant Lions press, Nicolas Barker (2) of OUP, Peter du Sautoy, chairman of Faber & Faber; Richard Garnett of Rupert Hart-Davis; Peter Guy of Gordon Fraser, Hans Schmoller and H. P. Paroissien of Penguin; Noel Carrington, the originator of Puffin Books; Philip Wilson, printer for Sotheby's; Peter Campbell, BBC printer; Anthony Colwell of Jonathan Cape; Mark Longman of Longmans; Susan Benn of Ernest Benn Limited. Also present are two signatures of the Daily Express cartoonist 'Giles', the children's author Noel Streatfeild; the children's illustrator Treld Pelkey Bicknell (while at Puffin Books); Douglas Cleverdon of the BBC, and the local MPs Ken Weetch and Gwyneth Dunwoody. The American botanist Harold William Rickett (1896-1986), of the New York Botanical Gardens, signs no fewer than eight times. One page, headed 'St. George's Day | April 23rd 1958', carries eight lines of calligraphic text: 'It is a fine thing | in the week which has spanned the birthday of the Queen of England | on the day devoted to England's patron saint | to be the guest of princes among English craftsmen. | [second verse] Long live the Queen - and may she give us back our sovereigns. | Long live St. George - and may no-one ever again shorten his sword. | Long live and prosper the hosts who have entertained us so | royally and displayed their craft to us with such saintlike patience.' There is a similar calligraphic heading for 'V. E. Day | May 8th 1945 | May 8th 1958' and for 'Visit of Executive Students on | APRIL 23rd. 1959 | from the | LONDON SCHOOL of PRINTING and GRAPHIC ARTS'. There are also headings for visits to the firm's premises, several of them attractively presented in calligraphic style; these include those on the firm's 'One hundredth and fiftieth year: 1968' on the firm's 150 anniversary, with the firm's device in a cartouche in red and gold (including the signatures of the Mayor and Town Clerk of Ipswich); a visit on 16 November 1960 by Longmans, Green & Co. Limited (the heading flanked by two hand-drawn versions of the firm's ship device). There are also headings for visits by Anglia Television (24 October 1961), St Martins School of Art, Ipswich Civic College, HMS Ganges (three visits), Shell-Mex & B.P. (26 March 1963), London College of Printers (3 May 1963), Associated-Rediffusion Ltd (27 June 1963), Deutscher Factorenbund EV of Dusseldorf (22 July 1963), 'The Chairman and Editorial Committee of "Progress" | The Unilever Quarterly', Tower Ramparts School, Ipswich (14 November 1963), the Council of Industrial Design, 1964 Conference of Carpet Designers (24 June 1964), Colchester Technical College, the New York Botanical Garden and McGraw-Hill Book Company (3 April 1967), the Galley Club (24 March 1971). A few items are laid down within the volume, including the menu for 'A Luncheon at The Great White Horse Hotel, Ipswich, on Tuesday 21 April 1959 on the occasion of the visit to W. S. Cowell Limited of The 1959 Shell Advertising Course' and an 8vo handbill for a visit to 'The Press in the Butter Market' by board members of Grampian Holdings Ltd, signed by Geoffrey Smith and Eric Hanson; also several calling cards (H. F. A. Jackson of Anderson, Green & Co. Ltd.; Lionel Allston of Shell Petroleum, 'Monsieur & Madame Yvan Denis' of Brussels; Rudolph Goldsmith).