Sunday, February 10, 2008

Broughton's Rules: The First Contre Coup Press Publication

Here is the very first publication that came from the Contre Coup Press - or more correctly, the Cerberus Press. When I first began printing, I called myself the Cerberus Press. However, after a few small publications were completed, I discovered that a Cerberus Head Press already existed, so I changed the name of the imprint to avoid confusion.
In 1979 I decided that I would take the plunge and try printing. I had been collecting private press books for several years, and had done a lot of reading about the private press. In particular, I had been corresponding with Eugene Richardson, proprietor of the Vanishing Press in Gurnee, Illinois. He really encouraged me to give it a try. So I looked in the classified advertisement section of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and found a press for sale locally - an 8 by 12 Chandler and Price New Series platen press. I responded to the ad and made the purchase. As I recall, I paid something like $350 for the press, and I paid an extra $100 to have the press moved into my basement. What I didn't realize was that moving the press into my basement was going to involve dismantling and reassembling it, which was quite a job. The seller of the press was an old press mechanic who knew the press like the back of his hand. I mostly stood by and watched as he put the press together in my basement. When I tried to help, I mostly got scolded.
Anyway, I had a copy of Polk that gave me the basic information that I needed to get started. I also made my first trip to Dave Churchman's place to purchase stuff. This was when he had his printing stuff located in his primary business location, before he moved to the Boutique du Junque on Warman Ave. in Indianapolis. I bought just about everything I needed from Dave - empty typecases, furniture, sticks, quoins, etc.
I don't remember how it was that I bought my first type from the Acme Type Foundry in Chicago - I suppose that someone recommended them. I spent a lot of time studying typefaces, and finally decided upon Deepdene as the typeface to begin with. It wasn't a very good choice, as I was later to discover. But I wanted to use a typeface that everyone else wasn't using - I should have realized that there was a reason that people didn't use Deepdene. It was a Goudy face, but had some very unfortunate characteristics. For instance, due to peculiarities in the face, the face had a couple of unusual ligatures - "gg" and "gy", for instance - and when you used these character combinations, they showed up darker than the rest of the text. So the appearance of the page was marred by dark spots scattered around.
So having no idea what I was doing, I proceeded to set up and print the text of Broughton's Rules. I was very interested in the history of boxing at the time. In 1743, John Broughton had drafted a set of rules that were used during the early bare-knuckle boxing period. I wrote a brief introduction and then simply reprinted the rules.
I should probably be too embarrassed to let anyone see this thing. I didn't do any makeready, not yet knowing how to do so. The inking was horrible, as was the overall design of the thing. But at least it was a start. The pamphlet is 7 by 4-1/2 inches with 10 pages. I printed the piece on a nice Curtis paper whose name I don't recollect, with a wrapper of Fabriano Ingres. I printed a total of 60 copies, all of which I gave away - it was several years before I got the courage to actually ask anyone to pay for a book.

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