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Hayloft Press Archive

Date range: c.1950–2003.

David Wishart (1928–2003) was a lecturer in statistics and mathematics at the University of Birmingham, who had a fascination for printing and typography, and ran his own private press – the Hayloft Press – in a loft above his garage.

What began as a hobby turned into a one-man business, especially after he retired in 1988. Wishart printed small editions of 100–300 copies, often incorporating wood-block illustrations from his own collection or specially commissioned artwork.

Subjects ranged from a bicentennial reprint of Tom Paine’s essay ‘The Last Crisis’ to A Ring of Leaves, a collection of poems by Phoebe Hesketh, illustrated by Allen Freer. As well as these more substantial works, the press produced a mass of ephemera such as stationery, Christmas cards and leaflets.

Wishart was especially interested in exotic type and the printing of non-European languages; he amassed a substantial collection of hieroglyphic, Greek, Cyrillic and mathematical founts and researched extensively into their history and use.

The archive contains a large quantity of correspondence with authors (most notably Phoebe Hesketh), customers and fellow private printers; financial records; publicity material and order forms; initial designs and proofs of printed works; samples of the output of the press; and material generated in the course of David Wishart’s research into printing and typography.

The archive constitutes an important source for the study of private presses in the late twentieth century and of exotic types.

Finding aids

Catalogue available online via ELGAR.

Location

The John Rylands Library

Using the reading rooms in the John Rylands Library

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