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1970-1979


Henry Morris.

Guilford & Green. North Hills, PA: Bird & Bull Press, 1970.

This book consists of two different narratives which were each too short to print on their own. The first part concerns the Hayle Mill. Morris had the opportunity to explore the records of the Hayle Mill during a visit in 1969, and the experience prompted this piece. Of particular interest in the records were a series of letters from William Morris, of the Kelmscott Press, who ordered paper for his books from Hayle Mill. The second part of the book reprints letters written by Nathan Guilford while traveling to Kentucky in 1814. Guilford, a lawyer from Massachusetts, had intended to establish his career in one of the new settlements. His letters describe his journey and the conditions in early nineteenth-century America..

Hayle Mill.

J. B. Green, typewritten letter to Henry Morris, 21 June 1957. Bird & Bull Press Archives.

Henry Morris' correspondence with the Hayle Mill dates back to the very earliest days of his experiments with paper making and book making. In their letters, J. B. Green and Remy J. B. Green, both directors of the Mill, offered support and encouragement. In the letter on display, J. B. Green notes that it typically takes five years of apprenticeship and another five years of work before a person becomes truly efficient at papermaking. He encourages Morris in his endeavor, noting "I know it is a wonderful hobby having made this subject a hobby all my life.".


[Renier Hubert Ghislain Chalon].

Catalogue d'Une Tres-Rich Mais Peu Nombreuse Collection de Livres Provenant de la Bibliotheque de Feu Mr. le Comte J.-N.-A. de Fortsas. Mons : Typographie d'Em. Hoyois, libraire, [1840].

The Fortsas Catalogue. North Hills, PA: Printed for the Philobiblon Club, Bird & Bull Press, 1970.

The Fortsas Catalogue advertised the sale of the library of the late Jean-Nepomucene-Auguste Pichauld, Comte de Fortsas (1770-1839). In life, the Comte de Fortsas had amassed a library built upon the desire that every book he owned must be so rare that his be the only copy in existence. A second rule for his library was that no book in his collection be referenced or described by any other bibliographer or cataloger. He was so discriminating in this regard that he would sell, give away, or destroy any book of his that was subsequently shown to exist in duplicate, or even be mentioned elsewhere. The catalog was mailed to major collectors, libraries, bibliographers, and booksellers, with the sale advertised for August 10, 1840, in the village of Binche in Belgium. Numerous collectors made the journey to Binche in the hopes of obtaining such unparalleled rarities. Unfortunately for all interested parties, there was, in fact, no such library in existence, nor was there even a Comte de Fortsas. All had been invented by Renier Chalon (1802-1889), a retired army officer and president of the Societe des Bibliophiles Belges at Mons, as well as a fan of a good practical joke. This Bird & Bull Press facsimile was printed, together with a brief history of the hoax, as a keepsake for a meeting of the Philobiblon Club. The Fortsas Catalogue had been the subject of a paper read at the meeting. Beside it is shown a copy of the original catalog.


Henry Morris.

The Bird & Bull Commonplace Book. North Hills, PA: Bird & Bull Press, 1971.

This project was originally envisioned as a collection of poems on papermaking. However, concluding that most of the poems he found "made extremely dull reading," and further concluding that there was already "an abundance of dull books" in existence, the project evolved into a collection of various articles on "the lighter side of papermaking," along with other, unrelated pieces which had been sitting in Morris's backlog for some time. One such essay addresses the original topic for the book by providing an overview of poems on papermaking. Another essay recounts Morris's solution to junk mail, which was to re-pulp it and make it back into paper, a sample of which is included in the book, and is shown here.

Paper made from a wasp nest, [circa 1970?]. Bird & Bull Press Archives.

In 1765, Christian Schaeffer experimented with making paper from wasp nests. He hoped to demonstrate that paper could be made from naturally occurring materials. At the time, paper was made from rendered cotton rags, and there was usually a shortage of raw materials available for papermaking. Schaeffer's paper consisted of about thirty percent wasps nest, with linen rag pulp forming the rest of the mixture. Henry Morris attempted to recreate Schaeffer's experiments, and succeeded in making a paper that was fifty-five per cent wasps nest. As to the quality of the paper, Morris's writes that "there is absolutely nothing nice I can say about this wretched stuff except that [...] anything you may do to it is bound to be an improvement.".


Henry Morris.

The Paper Maker: A Survey of Lesser-Known Hand Paper Mills in Europe and North America. North Hills, PA: Bird & Bull Press, 1974.

In its origins, The Paper Maker was intended to consist of an index to Hercules, Incorporated's journal, The Paper Maker (1932-1970), together with reprints of some of its articles and a history of the journal. Although this material appears in the second portion of the book, the project evolved so that the majority of the text is devoted to a survey of a variety of lesser-known paper mills from across the world. The book is illustrated with paper samples from all of the paper mills surveyed. Writing in his first bibliography in 1980, Morris described this as "one of the most enjoyable books I have produced."


Henry Morris.

Roller-Printed Paste Papers for Bookbinding. North Hills, PA: Bird & Bull Press, 1975.

This book provides Morris's instructions on how to produce decorative paste papers using a roller. (Traditionally, paste papers are made by hand, which is both more difficult and more time consuming). Morris originally envisioned producing paste papers as a profitable side-business, in the hopes that it would eventually let him leave the commercial printing industry; it would be some years before fine press printing became his full-time occupation. He now describes such hopes as "visions of grandeur." His investment resulted in exactly two customer orders. This book was then printed to make his experiments open to anyone else who wanted to try them. In the photograph, Morris is shown wearing the shirt which is displayed in the exhibition gallery.


James Sumner.

The Mysterious Marbler. North Hills, PA: Bird & Bull Press, 1976.

Originally printed in 1854, The Mysterious Marbler was a manual that explained how to make marbled papers for use in books. Its author, James Sumner, was a professional bookbinder and marbler in York, England. Little else is known of his life; he was probably in his mid- to late-twenties when he published his book, and is known to have lived at least into the 1880s. Marbling, which involves lowering a sheet of paper onto a bath of colored gum, was primarily used to provide material for the covers and endpapers of books. The craft had been practiced in Europe for centuries, but the first major manual on marbling did not appear in print until 1853. Until the printing of these manuals, marbling was a carefully guarded trade secret, passed on only from practitioners to their apprentices. As with Sumner's original edition, Morris's printing came illustrated with original samples of marbled paper. Morris's printing sold out in less than two weeks, making it one of his most popular publications..


Henry Morris and Leonard Schlosser.

A Pair on Paper: Two Essays on Paper History and Related Matters. North Hills, PA: Bird & Bull Press, 1976.

A Pair on Paper contains two separate essays on the history of papermaking. The first, "More Adventures in Papermaking, etc." concerns the printed assignats that were issued as currency during the French Revolution. Morris has stated that this interest was first sparked after he purchased two assignats at a Parisian book stall in 1970. The second, "Some Early Milanese Paper Wrappers," regards a collection of previously unknown late sixteenth and early seventeenth-century Milanese paper wrappers which were over a century older than the previously known examples of paper wrappers.

[Bound collection of French ballet music, late eighteenth century]. Bird & Bull Press Archives.

This volume has been printed on sheets of unused assignat paper, as can be identified by their distinctive watermarks. The value of the assignat plunged soon after its introduction in 1789 and continued to do so until the currency's elimination in 1797. (At that point they were valued at about 1/4000th of their nominal value). By law, unused assignat paper was supposed to have been burned as a deterrent against counterfeiting. Morris speculates that this book was printed on paper left over when the assignat was declared null and void, with the now-worthless currency paper having been dispersed to the book trade. A photograph of this volume is reproduced in A Pair on Paper.

Uncut sheet of French assignats, 23 May 1793. Bird & Bull Press Archives.


Henry Morris.

Bird & Bull Pepper Pot. North Hills, PA: Bird & Bull Press, 1977.

A successor to the Bird & Bull Commonplace Book, this book contains a variety of pieces about papermaking, publishing, and printing history. One piece recounts Morris's first experiences working in commercial print shops as a fourteen-year-old. Another provides translations of Christian Schaeffer's papermaking experiments, which included such diverse raw materials as grapevines, sawdust, and poplar wool. Writing about the book in 1980, Morris observed that "although conceived in boredom, I thoroughly enjoyed the writing and editing of the book, and I know many who have read it with great pleasure. [...] In fact, I have often thought that some of my best work could be found in Pepper Pot."

Wire forms for Bird & Bull Pepper Pot, [circa 1977]. Bird & Bull Press Archives.

These wire forms were used to create water marks in the paper made for Bird & Bull Pepper Pot. The wire forms would be affixed to the wire mesh of a paper mould, so as to create an image on the finished paper that can be seen only when the paper is held up to the light.


Richard J. Wolfe.

Jacob Bigelow's American Medical Botany 1817-1821: An Examination of the Origin, Printing, Binding and Distribution of America's First Color Plate Book. North Hills, PA: Bird & Bull Press, 1979.

Jacob Bigelow's American Medical Botany is believed to be the first book printed in America containing color-printed plates. At the time, illustrations in books were normally colored by hand. American Medical Botany was originally supposed to have been colored in the usual fashion, and a number of plates were produced for the book this way, but were never used. The sheer number of color plates in the book prompted Bigelow to devise a mechanical means to expedite what would otherwise have been an extremely time-consuming process. This book about the production of American Medical Botany contains two original unused engraved plates, one uncolored and one hand-colored, which were made prior to the introduction of mechanical processes to the book.

Jacob Bigelow.

American Medical Botany, Being A Collection of the Native Medicinal Plants of the United States, Containing Their Botanical, History, and Chemical Analysis, and Properties and Uses in Medicine, Diet and the Arts, With Coloured Engravings. Boston: Cummings and Hilliard, 1817-1820.

The original printing of Bigelow's American Medical Botany, here opened to show one of the mechanically colored illustrations. Uncolored and hand-colored versions of the illustrations can be seen framed on the wall.

Unused engraved plates for American Medical Botany, [circa 1817]. Bird & Bull Press Archives.

The plate on the right was colored by hand for use in Jacob Bigelow's American Medical Botany, prior to the introduction of mechanical color printing. The plate on the left provides an example of how the plates would have appeared prior to being colored.


Timothy Barrett.

Nagashizuki: The Japanese Craft of Hand Papermaking. North Hills, PA: Bird & Bull Press, 1979.

Timothy Barrett, himself a papermaker, spent three years in Japan learning firsthand about Japanese papermaking methods. Barrett and Morris met in 1973, while Barrett was working at the Twinrocker Paper Mill, and they corresponded regularly during Barrett's time overseas. At Morris's encouragement and insistence, Barrett wrote this book to document what he had learned in Japan. In his fiftieth anniversary publication, A Conservatory for My Prospectuses and Specimen Leaves, Morris writes that "this has always been one of my favorite books."

Richard Flavin.

Proof of line drawing for Nagashizuki Paper, showing a craftsman preparing paper on a mould. With Morris's manuscript notes for printing, [circa 1979]. Bird & Bull Press Archives.

Original line drawing for Nagashizuki Paper, showing a craftsman preparing paper on a mould, [n.d.] Bird & Bull Press Archives.

Timothy Barrett.

Typewritten letter to Henry Morris, 24 [November?] 1975. Bird & Bull Press Archives.

Typewritten letter to Henry Morris, 27 October 1976. Bird & Bull Press Archives.

Timothy Barrett wrote these letters to Henry Morris while he was living in Japan. The letters are composed on paper that he had made by hand, following the practices which he would later describe in his book.

Timothy Barrett.

Nagshizuki: The Japanese Craft of Hand Papermaking. [North Hills, PA]: Bird & Bull Press, 11 November 1977. Bird & Bull Press Archives.

This broadside was printed for a lecture given by Timothy Barrett in 1978, after his return from Japan, and prior to the printing of Nagashizuki Paper. It is printed on Barrett's handmade paper.


Daniel Wilcox's The Invention of Paper: a Double Hoax.

Daniel Wilcox. Ernie the Cave King and Sherlock the Smart Person in The Invention of Paper. New York: Western Publishing Company, 1975. Bird & Bull Press Archives.

Sidney Berger, typewritten letter to Paul [Duensing], 26 May 1984. (Photocopy). Oak Knoll Correspondence with Bird & Bull.

Photocopy of the title-page for the nonexistent 1875 Invention of Paper by Daniel Wilcox, with Morris' manuscript notes. Bird & Bull Press Archives.

Henry Morris, autograph letter to Sidney Berger, 14 May 1984. (Photocopy). Oak Knoll Correspondence with Bird & Bull.

One of the books listed in Nagashizuki Paper's bibliography of books on handmade paper was, in fact, a Sesame Street book, which humourously (and fictionally) describes how paper was invented in the Stone Age by Ernie the Caveman. Morris said that he "wondered if anyone actually read" bibliographies, and used Daniel Wilcox's The Invention of Paper (the full title actually being Ernie the Cave King and Sherlock the Smart Person in The Invention of Paper) to test his suspicion that most people did not. In 1981, Morris wrote about the prank in Japonica and voiced his disappointment that no one had noticed it. Timothy Barrett was not amused. Sidney Berger advised Barrett to return the favor in kind. With help from a friend who had access to nineteenth-century type, they printed a title page for a fictitious 1875 edition of The Invention of Paper, also by Daniel Wilcox. Berger mailed a photocopy of the title page to Morris, saying that he had trouble finding the book, until realizing that Morris had made a typo when printing the book's date of publication. Amazed by the apparent coincidence, Morris spent some ten months trying to find a copy of the book before finally being informed that the book did not exist..




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