printed oxfords


Mount Fuji has long been praised by poets and depicted by artists for its beautiful shape and sacred status. Japanese artist Utagawa Hiroshige (1797–1858) created numerous views of Mount Fuji over the course of his career, depicting the mountain in different seasons and from a variety of viewpoints.

Come and see a brand new FREE display of Hiroshige’s views of Mount Fuji, now open in Gallery 29.

The artworks, from the Ashmolean’s own collection, include views of Mount Fuji from several different Hiroshige series; some devoted entirely to Fuji and others in which Fuji appears in views of Edo, or is seen from the Tōkaidō Road, Japan’s major highway.

Alice’s Adventures in the OUP Printers

It’s International Children’s Book Day, and we’ve decided to look at OUP’s contribution to Oxford don Lewis Carroll’s classic, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. First published by Macmillan in 1865, our expert printers were called upon to provide the unusual typesetting for the passage known as ‘The Mouse’s Tale’.

 Today, the original printing plate sits proudly in the Oxford University Press museum, next door to the library, together with a copy of the passage from the 1865 edition.

Happy Alice Day!

Today is Alice Day, a truly ‘frabjous’ day I’m sure you’ll agree. To celebrate Lewis Carroll’s beloved children’s classic, we revisited the OUP Library to look at some Alice in Wonderland artifacts. 

Pictured above is one of the 2,000 copies Lewis Carroll paid to have printed in Oxford in 1865.

In celebration of the European day of Languages on the 26th September, here in the OUP Archives, we have a Victorian sample from the extensive print shop that was closed in 1989.

This artefact shows a selection of the 900 or so languages that Oxford University Press could print at that time. The characters shown were cut (on metal blocks) at the Oxford Press, by Mr John Streaks, who has also made the greater number of the electrotype matrices which are stated in this work to have been produced at the Press. 

Image courtesy of OUP Archives.

We are continuing the Alice in Wonderland theme this week here at the OUP ArchivesPictured is a “stereotype plate”, which is made by placing individual metal letters in sequence to make a mould. This mould is then used to create a cast, which is then used to form a metal plate. “Stereotype plates” would be made in metal for unusual page designs, such as this mouse tail page in Alice in Wonderland.

Image courtesy of OUP Archives.

On this episode of Shakespeare Unlimited, we hear from Emma Smith, professor of Shakespeare studies at Oxford University and the author of The Making of Shakespeare’s First Folio. Smith talks about the London print shop that produced the First Folio, 17th-century printing practices and copyright issues, the actors from Shakespeare’s company who collected the plays and the financial risk they were taking, and other aspects of the process for creating the book that gave us Shakespeare.

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This week in OUP Archives we found a picture of the copper matrix imported from the Netherlands in the 17th century by John Fell, the man who was in charge of the Press at the time. These moulds made the iron punches (or letters) that were used in printing materials. The matrix bears his name as a result, “Fell type”, and was considered state of the art equipment in England at the time it was imported to the Press. The Press still has the Fell type on site in Oxford!