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What was your most pleasant fine press reading surprise of 2012?

Fine Press Forum

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Edited: Feb 5, 2012, 9:58am Top

This website and similar ones such as Books and Vines and the Whole Book Experience have introduced me to a wide range of small private presses and fine press/private press books that I would not have encountered under normal circumstances. Many have proven to be unexpectedly delightful both in terms of fine private press work and interesting reads. My question is:

What fine press or private press book proved to be your most pleasant surprise as book collectors and avid readers?

To kick it off, I will state that mine proved to be a book from Martyn Ould's Old School Press, 'Tonge's Travels'. Busywine introduced me to this press in his Books and Vines blog with an article on 12/7/11. I promptly visited their home page to look through their list of published books and this one caught my fancy. First, the book design is superb. The shape of the book, the page layout, the careful intermingling of text and watercolor illustrations are perfect and reflect careful thought and excellent book design. The text is printed letterpress, high quality materials are used and, best of all, it is a delightful read. At $110 this book is a steal!!

Young George Tonge was an undergraduate finishing his first year at Oxford University in 1856. He decided to spend the summer aboard a screw steamer headed toward the Meditteranean in search of a cargo of currants. The ten-week journey touches port in a series of magical locales including Gibraltar, Genoa, Pisa, Naples, Vesuvius, Pompei, Corinth, and Athens. His description of the steamer's adventures and misadventures and his description of each city and the locals is perceptive and hilarious. Young Mr. Tonge is a careful and perceptive observer with a sharp eye, a sharper wit, and a gentle sarcasm befitting a young Oxford undergrad in the mid-19th century. Put simply, Mr. Tonge is a smartass who is the sort of person you would greatly enjoy spending a summer with touring Europe on $10 per day during your undergraduate years.

Well, what is YOUR nomination for an unexpectedly wonderful fine or private press read in 2012?

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