Printer’s Guide

Printer’s Guide by JF Cummins 

Introduced by Emma Balch 

I was given this little book(let) today.

Originally published in 1951, it was the first of its kind in Ireland and became a classic in the printing trade. JF Cummins noted in his introduction to this 1953 edition: ‘We had intended to have a new cover designed for this edition, but as a keen observer pointed out, as a bird is known by its note, so is the Printer’s Guide known by its distinctive cover. So we have retained the familiar design…’.

It has 144 pages, produced in a small format and set in minuscule type.


I like JF Cummins’ approach: ‘presenting detailed factual information in a simple, readable style … but please observe, suggestions are always welcome for the betterments of the GUIDE. Write and tell us your ideas and give us constructive criticism. Better still, write an article for the GUIDE. If we print it, we shall pay for it.’

The book was given to me by Bob, a printing engineer contracted to remove and deliver a 60-year old Heidelberg ‘windmill’ platen press from Manchester to me in Clyro. Within a few minutes I’d discovered that Bob lives in Yorkshire, less than a mile from where I grew up and where my parents still live.

At the age of 17 Bob began working at Dawson, Payne & Eliot in Otley, at the foot of the steep bank that leads down to the River Wharfe, at the point where Leeds end abruptly and the Yorkshire Dales begin. In the factory he assembled the Wharfedale printing press machines that had revolutionised the printing industry when first introduced in the late 19th century.

These days, Bob’s specialist knowledge takes him around the UK and abroad, delivering 19th & early-mid 20th century print machinery.

He gave me this book as a gift, to wish me the best in my new venture, telling the story of books. I will treasure my copy of Printer’s Guide by JF Cummins – and not least because sixty years on I think it is still a great cover.


A huge thank you to all those who made today possible. EB

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