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Production Narrative

by J. Drucker

We marbled the paper, wrote the text, printed most of it in one day in a continually changing ink color (without cleaning the press, just adding and subtracting ink). Then we collated it so that we got the maximum contrast page to page in terms of color and font. Emily had come to Cambridge to learn letterpress (!) hard as it is to believe she ever didn't know how to print. She worked at the Bow and Arrow with me and Gino in that summer, 1989, for weeks. She set her own bit of 6 point, unleaded type (some things one never forgets), and we conceived this project as a playful engagement with the many treasures of the Bow and Arrow. Time ran out, as it will, and we ended up printing it in a rush, binding and everything else all at once just as she was leaving. But we were pleased with the overall effect of the whole project once it was done, with its long off-cut format (maybe leftovers from The Word Made Flesh, actually) and its hard, heavy boards. We had trouble figuring out, later, who wrote which lines.

Critical Analysis

by J. Drucker

Design Features

typographic: A type sample book, this one is filled with beauties from the Bow and Arrow collection. Elegant and lovely faces. The sheer pleasure of printing them, looking at them, and working with them made the project worth it.

imagery: No images, really, except on the end sheets, where we printed some of the dingbats and cuts from the Bow and Arrow to make decorative papers.

graphical: The long format and double lines of type have a good, strong structure to them.

openings: These were incidentally determined, according to color and contrast, not text.

turnings: The long sheets make the turns slippery, kind of elegant.

development: none, really, none, and any reading that perceives such is reading too much.

sequence: Sequence was set by color and contrast, so it does register on the eye.

Detailed Analysis

We couldn't resist using the cuneiform cut and making a joke with it.

General Comments

This was a work of fun, friendship, exchange, and typophilic play. Making much more of it would be silly. The texts are goofs, one-offs, and probably give some indication of our vocabulary and sensibility, but not much else. Nothing substantive or really too deliberate was meant by any of it. Most of it was composed just to get something set in the particular font, and then printed. [J. Drucker]

Sample Dialog


Johanna Drucker

type: initiating


born: United States
active: United States

birth: 1952-05-30

Emily McVarish

type: initiating


active: United States

Publication Information

edition type: editioned

publisher: The Bow and Arrow Press was the place it was printed, but the publishers were McVarish and Drucker. No imprint.

place: Cambridge, MA

publication: 1989-00-00

edition size: 10 copies.

note: Conceived, set, written, printed, bound, by the authors. [J. Drucker]


horizontal: 13.25 inches closed

vertical: 6 inches closed

depth: .5 inches closed

Production Information

production means:
letterpress (local)

binding: hand sewn (local) paper-covered boards, cloth spine.

bookBlock: paper Mohawk Super Fine
endsheets: paper handmade

ink (local)


general description:

format: codex (AAT)

color: yes


pagination: unpaginated 54 pages

numbered?: unnumbered

signed?: unsigned


This specimen book was printed on Mohawk Super Fine by Johanna Drucker and Emily McVarish with the typical and ornamental resources of The Bow & Arrow Press, Cambridge, MA and in strict accordance with the daily weather forecasts that marked the passage of mid-July, 1989.

General Comments

As a very limited edition project, this was successful. No need for a larger edition of such a thing. [J. Drucker]