Harting, Petersfield, Hampshire, England: Pear Tree Press, 1905.
Calligraphy by Percy J. Smith – Drawings by James Guthrie – Printed by James Guthrie
The Pear Tree Press, founded in 1899 by the artist, typographer, and printer James J. Guthrie (1874–1952), published from 1901 to 1951. Guthrie’s artwork was an important feature of his publications. His early work often reproduced his original drawings with wood engravings. In later publications Guthrie focused on intaglio printing, sometimes printing plate books, which integrated text and image in full-page intaglio prints. In 1930, Guthrie wrote: “The further exploration of what can be done by plates, blocks, type, and also by mixed methods, is steadily kept in mind.” Will Ransom wrote that Guthrie professed not to have been inspired either by Morris or the idea of fine printing, but rather “he simply added printing to painting as another medium of a man who speaks always in terms of art.” He further describes Guthrie as “an artist first and always, a theorist by temperament, a craftsman in practice, and a pioneer in new media and methods.”
One of the earlier publications of the press is The Beatitudes from 1905. The decorative quality of the book, which contains only one frontispiece illustration by Guthrie, comes largely from the presentation of the text, with each of the eight blessings pronounced by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount written out in a calligraphic hand. The text and image were then printed from wooden blocks. One hundred copies were printed in black and red and another one hundred were printed in black and blue. Ten copies were printed on vellum. This copy is printed on vellum.