This article is based on the lecture that covers information about Jan Tschichold, Penguin books and the Curwen Press. Which also verifies the links that connect the artistic side to the style and presentational form that Jan Tschichold projects with the work that he has produced, using printing methods (Curwen press) and modernised ideas.    

“The Curwen Press has been known as the most important letterpress trade printer in England throughout much of the 20th century. In 1984 the Curwen Press closed and sold its entire composing room to Ian Mortimer, proprietor of I.M. Imprimit in London.    

‘Ian Mortimer has virtually single-handedly put medieval history back in the hands of ordinary readers, combining scrupulous research with a wonderfully iconoclastic approach to storytelling .’
– Dominic Sandbrook (Daily Telegraph)    

The Curwen archive is still intact and was recently sold to the Barabrian Press of Mission, British Columbia, who have announced a forthcoming book, The Curwen Project, scheduled for publication in 2010.    

Barbarian Press remains an entirely letterpress operation. Which has nine presses including three 19th century hand presses(Razzell, 2009).”   

Curwen archive acquired by Barbarian Press, ‘The Curwen Project’ forthcoming  


I think that the Curwen press shows unique equalities in its design layout. The image above shows a clear representation of the complex details that the Curwen press consists of. This makes it understandable from how it has made such an impact on 20th Century letter pressing. 

“The Curwen Press was founded in 1863 to print music. After Harold Curwen joined in 1908, it began to print high quality limited edition books and did much to advance the use of colour lithography. When Oliver Simon joined he used his contacts with the Royal College of Art employing artists such as Paul Nash and Edward Bawden (LTM collection, 2007).” 

From my perspective view of the Curwen Press, it has brought about a new method of design solution to producing book covers with high quality images and artistic illustrations. The style that it portrays gives an original sense of innovative sophistication, that depicted new elements to book cover designs. The Curwen archive is a clear example of the complex craftsmanship that follows the result that is displayed on the image below. The image is one of many from a large selection of book covers, produced by the Curwen press. 

 The design is very explicit and precise with the concept that it depicts, based on the attractions of London. I think it shows a unique method of executing colour with both presentational layout and mid toned illustrations. 


“See London by coach, by Edward Purser Lancaster, 1948″ 

Here is another image produced by the Curwen press, that depicts another well represented illustration of the modernised style. What I have noticed about most of the cover designs, from my observation most of the designs include elements of the London Transport logo. 


“Autumn hues, by Walter E Spradbery, 1936″

 I took further analysis into the topic and found out that, ‘Curwen of the Curwen Press and Frank Pick of the London Passenger Transport Board, two men who – both in partnership and separately – were to play an influential role in the promotion and dissemination of well-designed graphic art over the following years.’

From that I think that the collaboration between the two men used their traits to expand on their individual goals, promoting both of their styles in a more influential and powerful way for a stronger effective impact.


Image3&4. Ltm collection (London Transport Museum. (2007).

Image1. Paul Razzell. (2009). FPBA.

Image2. Library. 2000.