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Alembic Press



David Bolton, having learned printing in school, purchased an Adana printing press with some Gill founts in 1972 when he and his wife Claire lived in Edinburgh. They stored it in the basement of their flat. David worked in school administration and Claire stayed home with the children. When the children went off to school, Claire started printing tickets and became interested in small press printing. From that point on, until the late 1990s when they acquired a Monotype caster, Claire was the primary designer, printer, binder, and marketer for the works of the press. She printed her first book in 1978.   From Edinburgh, they moved to Winchester in 1977, where David worked at King Alfred College; to Kennington, where Claire operated the press out of a garage, in 1987; and finally to Marcham in 1993. Along the way they accumulated several presses, including Albion, Arab, Cropper, Farley, and Vandercook floor presses and a Sigwalt and three different models of Adana table top presses. In addition, in the late 1990s they acquired two Monotype composition casters and one super caster and David began casting founts. They also amassed an extensive collection of wood and metal founts, ranging in size from 5 point to 90 line.   Claire prefers ". . .to do this as much by hand as possible from beginning to end." (Toledo Blade, October 29, 1989) Therefore, she usually binds the books herself, though she commissions some binding work.   The press usually puts out four to five titles a year and has published over 130 titles over the course of its existence. Their topics often have to do with the book arts, such as Compton Marbled Papers, Flax Papers, Maziarcyzk Paste Papers, and several type specimen books; but she also writes and publishes items about local history and has a series of fine miniature books. Claire says about the press: "I don't think I could live on it. But it's more than a hobby." (Toledo Blade, October 29, 1989)

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:

Alembic Press Archive Records

Identifier: MsC0882

A significant archive, entire and extant, from one of the most prolific and independent of British fine presses, these documents are a record of the processes of hand printing, publishing, and typecasting undertaken by Claire and David Bolton.

Dates: 1978-2008

Private Press Ephemera

Identifier: MsC1054

Ephemera from a variety of international private presses.

Dates: 1930-2022

Additional filters:

American literature 1
Editors 1
English literature 1
Publishers and publishing 1
Writers Archive at Iowa 1