September 26

Writing on notepaper bearing the imprint, “at the Fleuron, 10 Adam Street, Adelphi, w.c.” Holbrook Jackson addressed himself to Oliver Simon Esq., at the Curwen Press, on this date in 1922:

“Dear Simon, Thanks for yours of the 19th. I have spoken to Morison and he agrees with you and me that The Fleuron Society has petered out, and I think there is nothing more to be done than to admit this. There has been no expenditure save the printing of the paper on which this letter is typed and I have asked Morison to supply the amount due from each of us, which will be only a few shillings. The only subscriptions paid were Morison’s and my own. The requests for subscriptions from other members did not develop into cheques. I am therefore returning Morison his cheque. Mr. Newdigate has never answered any of my letters so I imagine he never considered himself a member.”

Late in 1921, an informal group of men interested in promoting the cause of good printing had begun to meet to discuss the ways and means of such a venture. One of these individuals, Oliver Simon, made the suggestion that a society be formed which would undertake the production of one book a year. The purpose would be to prove that machine-set and machine-printed books could match the quality of the books which had been produced by the great private presses, whose influence was still very strong.

Several members of the original group evidenced interest in Simon’s proposal and agreed to meet to plan such an undertaking. They were Francis Meynell, Stanley Morison, Holbrook Jackson, Bernard Newdigate, and Oliver Simon. It soon became evident that no real agreement could be reached on a publishing program, particularly since Newdigate was of the opinion that the practices of William Morris at the Kelmscott Press should serve as the model of the Fleuron publications. It was upon this rock that the Society foundered.

However, out of the discussions and exchange of ideas, there did emerge a most worthwhile venture. Simon and Morison decided to collaborate on the production of a periodical devoted to typography, to be called The Fleuron. With contributions from all the original members of the Fleuron Society, the first number—set in the new cutting of Garamond which Morison had suggested the Monotype firm produce—appeared in the Spring of 1923. The regular edition consisted of one thousand copies, with 120 copies of a de luxe edition being printed on hand-made paper. The price set for the ordinary edition was twenty-one shillings. The second number was limited to but 750 copies, with the same number of de luxe copies as in the first number. By the time the third number was ready, it was evident that The Fleuron was a success and the print order was returned to one thousand.

Seven numbers of the journal were printed. Unquestionably they represent the high point of typographical publishing in this century, each issue containing the most authoritative and scholarly writing of any periodical devoted to the art of printing. The first three numbers were edited by Simon, and the last four by Stanley Morison, helping to establish a reputation which has been virtually without parallel in the field of typographic history. Today almost no collector specializing in printing books considers his library complete without a set of The Fleuron. Of course the going prices reflect this distinction, a set costing up to $300.

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