Continuing the series of essays written by my late father, Rowley Atterbury, about the people that he felt had contributed to the graphic arts during his lifetime. Originally written in 1990 and revised and updated in A Good Idea at the Time, a History of Westerham Press published in 2010 by Hurtwood Press.
Perhaps the most impressive and technically advanced book we produced was the volume Elles – Henri de Toulouse Lautrec, for Leonard Russell of the Sunday Times with a specially written introduction by Michael Melot. This was to be a limited edition of 1250 copies, mainly facsimile reproductions of the work of Toulouse Lautrec. Eleven plates were reproduced. The reproductions were to be the same size as the originals. Duncan MacIntyre was responsible for the then advanced technology used in the reproduction of the illustrations. Charles Mozley, as a most gifted autolithographer, moved in on the act and made a major contribution to the virtual perfection that was achieved. Even the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris were impressed but faintly irritated by such a British achievement. The book was designed in the Press under the eye of Leonard Russell.
The choice of paper was critical and it was decided to get the paper from the mill that had, at the time, made paper for Toulouse Lautrec himself – Papeteries de Lana at Docelles. Sandy Jackson, another great and knowledgeable character of the time, working for the Hale Paper Company, located the paper mill and said he would take us there to choose the paper. Charles Mozley insisted on driving us in his car, with Sandy Jackson and me as passengers. When we got to Dover, Sandy said that he had reserved three cabins and, on boarding the vessel, he demanded to be taken them. There were no beds made up and we were told that they were surprised by the reservation as the vessel having unloaded its passengers would return to Dover at midnight. Charles Mozley then addressed the ship’s ofﬁcer, who was guiding us, and said ‘I want to see the Purser’, adding sotto voce, ‘you can always bribe the purser on British Rail ferries’, to which the ofﬁcer replied ‘I am the Purser’. So 1.15am saw us on the quayside in Calais, very cold as it was February, with nowhere to stay.
On arrival at Docelles we then discovered another difﬁculty. The mill manager refused to speak English (he had been sunk at Oran) and would speak to us only in Russian. Charles spoke German, which only increased the tension. Eventually a retired English family nanny was produced as interpreter and this compromise got us admitted to the mill, which offered a wide selection of suitable and interesting papers. This having been settled and orders placed, we returned to a café for accommodation and dinner and planned to return to the UK the next morning. The proprietor of the café had a most attractive young wife and Charles insisted on producing some very ﬁne and lurid sketches of her. A great row ensued over this and I retired to my room and locked the door and passed a peaceful night. The next morning we set off for home.
There was a dispute as to the amount of petrol in the tank of Charles’ car and inevitably, in due course, we ran out of petrol on a lonely road in northern France. I had bought a special bottle of Marc de Bourgogne and Charles insisted on pouring this into the petrol tank of the car and surprisingly, to my irritation, this got us to a petrol station. It also irreparably damaged the engine. In due course we arrived back at Silversted, my house, and Charles, still in a rage, engaged the wrong gear and ran full tilt into the house and so damaged the car that it was a write-off.
Duncan MacIntyre printed the plates [one colour at a time] on a single colour Harris offset press and the book was bound by Bob Moody at the Wigmore Bindery. Copies are very rare today and the technology used in the colour printing was never matched again.
Did you miss part 1? read it here