As a direct and elegant means of putting words on paper, letterpress remained vigorous until the end of its useful life about forty years ago. In 1950 the power of this unmediated route from original text to printed sheet caught the imagination of a young returning serviceman, Desmond Jeffery. He saw in the work of Anthony Froshaug what could be done with hand-set letterpress. Unlike Froshaug, for whom it was a matrix upon which to develop a design programme, for Desmond the practice was the programme. He equipped himself with an Adana, an Albion and a collection of foundry types, most of them imported, then in 1956 took over a jobbing letterpress workshop in Marylebone, where he installed a Heidelberg platen. Customers ranged from the Stevens Shanks foundry to Mayfair galleries, the Goldsmiths’ Company to the Partisan coffee house. This is the first public exhibition of his work.
In a talk on 27 October, Paul Stiff, James Mosley and Ian McLaren will contribute personal views of Desmond and his work, to be followed by discussion with other speakers.