The process of creating the text

The texts of the books are typeset by hand and printed on a 19th-century press or reproduced calligraphically.

Kак мы создаём шедевр

Hand Typesetting the Text

The process of creating the text is practically the same as it was in the time of the great Gutenberg – the inventor of the printing press and the technology of movable metal type. This is a complex, painstaking task made up of two stages: hand typesetting the text and then printing it on a hand press. The texts of the books are set using metal type. For each style and size of type there is a separate set of letters and symbols known as a typeface. Each piece of type takes the form of a rectangular metal bar topped by a raised reversed image of the character cast from type metal, a special alloy of lead, antimony and tin. For convenience, the pieces belonging to the typeface chosen for a text are laid out in an established order in the sections of a compositor’s case. Using special devices, the compositor sets the text, arranging letters and symbols into words, words into lines that are then assembled in a frame, or chase, to produce each page of the book. The mirror-image letters are typeset one at a time, from left to right.

Kак мы создаём шедевр

Printing on a Hand Press

Our publishing house prints the texts of its books on an all-metal 19th-century hand press made by the family firm of Dingler in the western German town of Zweibrücken. The press represents the culmination of the advances introduced by German craftsmen in the later 1800s, some of which were devised by Johann Gottfried Dingler and his son, Emil Maximilian. After coming to Russia in the early 20th century, the press worked for a century. It was transported from Moscow to Saint Petersburg but has not lost its technical characteristics, and today masterpieces of book art are being created with its aid.

The printing process is performed entirely by hand. The craftsman rolls ink onto the type in the chase, fixes the inked type in the press, covers it with a blank sheet of paper and sets the mechanism in motion. The paper is pressed tightly onto the set type, and the ink is transferred to it. One page of the book is ready.

Kак мы создаём шедевр

To produce an ideal impression, a printer needs skill and experience. The preparatory process requires great patience: adjustment of the pressure, correcting errors in the alignment of the type and the intensity of the colour can take hours or even days before the result is perfect.

As they come off the press, the printed pages are interleaved with fine paper to prevent the ink from one sheet being transferred to the back of the next. In order to obtain a better impression, the paper might sometimes be slightly dampened with water. The finished pages are then hung up to dry completely, flattened in a (non-printing) press and passed on to the bookbinder.

Our publishing house’s books are printed on the finest sorts of hand-made paper produced in old-established European mills. To stress the hand-made quality of the book the deckle edges of the paper are left untrimmed.

Как мы создаем шедевр


Rare Books from Saint Petersburg also produces manuscript books, employing calligraphy – the ancient art of beautiful handwriting. This invests an edition with a special integrity and expressiveness, helping to convey the atmosphere of the era when a literary work was born and its author’s creative intention.

Calligraphy (from the Greek for “beautiful writing”) is the art of making attractive and precise handwriting. The history of calligraphy is closely bound up with the evolution of art, scripts and writing paraphernalia (qalam, quill, pen or brush). Over the course of time, the development of writing, religious traditions and historical events shaped and honed the stylistic and graphic characteristics of calligraphy as practised among various peoples of the world.

The handwritten texts for our publishing house’s books are created by specialists from different countries. As bearers of a particular “cultural gene”, they create aesthetic masterpieces that convey the true, unique beauty of one tendency within the art of exquisite handwriting.

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