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M028b Ship

M028b Ship

These moulds are amongst my favourites and were used for one of the later printing papers stocked at Hayle Mill. The following story has been adapted from "An Illusive Image" an article that was first published in Fine Print, The Review for the Arts of the Book, Vol.XII (3), July 1986, pp.136-143. You can also obtain a reprint of the article in a back issue of The Quarterly - the journal of the British Association of Paper Historians - see This article includes many illustrations of early designs for the Sandwich watermark as well as many other watermark stories.

One of the most difficult watermark projects we executed in the later years of Hayle Mill has been for a particularly difficult client - ourselves. For many years we occasionally made a paper for the Plantin Moretus Museum in Antwerp, Belgium with a Compass watermark. Not only was this heavier (150g/m2) than most printing papers, it also has a particularly subtle cream shade. Following the last making of Compass, we decided to produce a version of this paper as an addition to our stock range. As none of our book papers were wove, we decided the new paper would be wove, 150g/m2, and be a rather large royal size (51.5 x 67cm). We ran trials and determined the specifications. We were then stuck for a name. Gabrielle Falkiner of Falkiner Fine Papers Limited, one of our London stockists, suggested “Sandwich” on the rather dubious grounds that this East Kent town, though much smaller than Antwerp, had an ancient maritime history like that city and was one of the nearest English ports to it. As we usually gave our papers the names of British towns and villages, this seemed a good choice.

Two production runs were produced without watermarks because we were having difficulty devising them: my mind was blocked with recurrent visions of symbolic sandwiches in cross-section. We obtained a copy of the town’s coat of arms which was far too complicated for a small watermark. At this stage I decided to pass the problem to one of our Hayle Mill characters - Alwyn Whitlock. Al rented space for his design and sign writing business and had tackled a variety of interesting projects: he painted and lettered a Morris Minor dray for a small brewery, also located at the Mill, and was commissioned by The Science Museum to paint a 17-foot-high by 30-foot-wide halftone image of an eye (each dot was up to six inches across) on a temporary partition which had been designed by my wife Maureen Green for the Launchpad gallery. I explained the brief, which had some unusual points. For example, most bespoke watermarks will appear in only a few books and will reflect the style of the printer. Ours would appear in many books and should not clash with them. Apart from our BG monogram it would be one of only a few standard watermarks we had introduced since the War (the first one, that is!). It would have to last for maybe fifty years and thus not become dated. We wanted it to look twentieth century in a quiet way. However, a bit of tradition would not go amiss. In addition it should work in folio, quarto, and octavo books, and perhaps also for unfolded prints. Finally it was to appear in a paper which is on the heavy side for a detailed watermark.

Al scratched his head and a few days later showed me four pages of rough drawings. Nautical ideas abounded and various sandwich puns were in­evitable. We felt that the idea of a simplified ship was worth developing further. These little boats were typically Kentish in the days of the Cinque Ports, of which Sandwich was one. The Cinque Ports undertook to defend the coast from French attacks in medieval times in return for a variety of customs concessions by the king. Naturally they also looted the French shore when the chance arose and made a healthy living from smuggling. A few waves seemed in order, but they had to be choppy because the Bank of England has the sole rights to symmetrical-wavy line watermarks. Indeed the bank had threatened my Great Great Grandfather John Barcham Green with jail for an alleged infringement.

The ship was set sail at 45° in one corner (so fitting all book formats).

We wanted to include our BG logo, “hand-made,” and the year, all in only one other corner so the sheet would not be cluttered. Al devised a new symbol combining all these items.

The next problem was that if we used a wire heavy enough to show clearly in the sheet, it would either degrade the detail or require much too large a mark. We decided on a two-pronged approach. Firstly, in line with our wish to be fairly discreet and not compete with the book designer, we would accept a slightly faint mark, and secondly, a flattened wire set on edge would be used. 19swg wire was rolled to give a height of 0.914mm (20swg) and a width of 0.416mm (27swg). Incidentally, it is easier to form fine detail in wire rolled to be higher than it is wide. The mast was made by soldering two rolled wires together and filing to the correct taper. The resulting design, while having a traditional basis, has a cleanness of line which would not be associated with early watermarks. Initially it was intended to make an electrotype etched plate but, as this had a tapered cross-section, the detail would have been blurred, and so the rolled wires were formed by hand. The marks were made and soldered to the moulds by W. Green Son and Waite Ltd. of St Pauls Cray.

Developing a market for a new stock handmade printing paper is a long term business. Once the paper is launched it takes time for its potential specialist customers - limited edition printers - to become aware of it. Their own projects often take some years and choice of paper is an important stage to be considered alongside design. Books are often designed to fit available paper sizes. So it took some years for Sandwich to become a success, no doubt aided by publication of this article in Fine Print which was by far the most influential journal in its field at the time. Eventually Sandwich became established and popular and indeed it was one of the first stock lines to sell out when Hayle Mill ceased production in 1987.