The Petrarch Press

Shake-speare’s Sonnets

The Most Authentic Text in a Fine Press Edition

Shakespeare's Sonnets – Handmade Paper Edition

The Petrarch Press edition of Shake-speare’s Sonnets has been the most significant project in our history — both for the end result and for the new skills and capabilities we developed along the way. The decision to print the original text was itself a journey of discovery, in which we abandoned our initial plan to issue (yet another) modernized edition of these timeless poems, and learned to appreciate the orthography of Shakespeare’s day. On the technical side, we acquired equipment to cast our own metal type and material for the book, as well as tools for engraving the special characters needed to print a 17th-century text. Adapting the traditional limp vellum binding to a fine-press book was the final challenge. (more…)



Creating New Types for Shake-speare’s Sonnets

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
Leonardo da Vinci

When we began to visualize our new edition of Shakespeare’s Sonnets, just a few ideas stood out. We wanted an intimate volume where each sonnet would be presented on its own page and where each verse would stand on one line, regardless of its length. Visually, we wanted our edition to resonate with the books produced by the early fine presses: Handmade paper with deckle edges, an authentic limp-vellum binding, and types that have their roots in classic early printing.   More…


Editing Shake-speare’s Sonnets

Shakespearean English can be problematic for modern readers. Standardisation of the language did not begin in earnest until the late 18th century. Some words had various spellings, all of which were considered normal at the time. Some words had meanings that have changed over the centuries. The letters ‘u’ and ‘v’ had not found their modern sounds. And perhaps most disturbing for modern readers, a second form of the letter ‘s’ – easily confused with an ‘f’ – was in universal use.

While our Petrarch Press editions are fine-press books that serve to enrich our personal reading experience, we also strive for textual accuracy. When we first contemplated printing a new edition of Shakespeare’s Sonnets, we asked ourselves, ‘How can we produce a book that combines formal beauty with scholarly integrity? What can we contribute that has not already been done?’   More…


Our New Typecasting Foundry

Test Font of Kennerley RomanIN OCTOBER 2010 the Press acquired its own Monotype Thompson typecasting machine, along with dozens of series of matrices, the small recessed molds for the three-dimensional letterforms that are the essence of letterpress printing. Our Thompson caster will give us more control over the ‘fit’ and appearance of the types we use in our handmade books, and it opens up the possibility for designing our own typeface.   More…