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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the David Esslemont Papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1970-2004
Creator: Esslemont, David
Extent: 39.00 linear feet.
Collection Number: MSC0837
Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Summary: Fine press printer, controller of the Gregynog Press from 1985-1998.

Alternate Extent Statement: Photographs in Boxes 4, 9-11, 14, 16, 17, 20.

Access: This collection is open for research.

Use: Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

Acquisition: The library purchased this collection from Esslemont in 2004.

Preferred Citation: David Esslemont Papers, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.

Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Address: Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-5921
Curator: Greg Prickman

Esslemont is a designers, printer, bookbinder, and publisher who studied Fine Art, Painting at the Central School of Art and Design in London. A subsidiary subject was printmaking and Esslemont was taught lino-cutting and wood engraving by Blair Hughes-Stanton with whom he also worked for a while as a printer. Hughes-Stanton had been one of the resident artists at Gregynog in the 1930s.

After leaving college Esslemont returned to Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1978 where as a founding member and director he established the Charlotte Press printmaking workshop. In 1978, with a gift of type from Blair Hughes-Stanton, Esslemont established his own press and printed the first of a number of books containing impressions from original wood blocks engraved by Thomas Bewick and his apprentices.

Esslemont was hired as Director of the Gregynog Press upon the retirement of Eric Gee in 1985. He learned Welsh in order to perform his job. The press had gotten an allocation of money from the Welsh Government, but when that stopped in 1997, Esslemont returned to working on a freelance basis. In 2004-2005, he moved to the United States, first to Minneapolis, then to Decorah, Iowa, where he has established the Solmentes (an anagram of Esslemont) Press. The first book with this imprint was Inside the Book. His first books were printed on a Columbian press. His books are strill printed letterpress, but from photopolymer plates on a Heidelberg cylinder press. The letterpress books are categorized as fine press books and printed in limited editions of around 200 copies.

Based in part on Esslemont's web site.

This finding aid is based on an inventory provided by Esslemont at the time the papers were acquired. There were some discrepancies, which are noted as follows: Those items in Courier New couldn't be located; those in Georgia were added. Those with a strikethrough may be returned to Esslemont or discarded.
Each entry occupies one folder unless otherwise noted.

Browse by Series:
The detailed description has not been entered into the repository.
To view the content list, please follow this link.

This collection is indexed under the following subject terms.

English & American Literature
Writers Archive at Iowa
Editors & Publishers