Autumn 2021

Feminist pot-luck

Natural Enemies of Books: A Messy History of Women in Printing and Typography

Edited by MMS (Maryam Fanni, Matilda Flodmark, and Sara Kaaman). Designed by Eller med a. Occasional Papers, £12.50, €14.50
Natural Enemies of Books

If you can get your hands on an original copy of Bookmaking on the Distaff Side, consider yourself lucky – it was printed in an edition of just 100 copies, now scattered across the globe. Written, typeset and printed by a collective of accomplished professional women in 1937, the case-bound book (with custom paste papers made by the lyrically named Delight Rushmore) consists of separate signatures, each supplied by individual contributors, with multiple inks and papers of varied hues, weights and finishes. I was fortunate enough to be able to examine the book recently, at Wellesley College Library in Massachusetts, and enjoyed its tart-tongued humour, interspersed with more scholarly essays about the contributions made by women to printing and typesetting in Colonial America and Europe.

Contributors to Distaff included Jane Grabhorn, who was married to one of the founders of the well known Grabhorn Press in San Francisco but had her own freewheeling imprint, Jumbo Press; Edna Beilenson, a partner at Peter Pauper Press; and Evelyn Harter, who worked in design and production at Random House …

Lisa Rosowsky, professor of communication design, MassArt, Boston, US

Read the full version in Eye no. 102 vol. 26, 2021

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions and single issues.