The Ptolemaic Press is a traditional letterpress print establishment, publishing hand-crafted publications on vintage equipment. We specialise in short print runs of magazines and occasional poetry, typically two to three titles per year.

The main printing press used is an "Arab" Foolscap Folio press, manufactured by Wades of Halifax, serial number #3803 dated 1926. Foolscap Folio refers to the size of the chase (the printable area), which in this instance is 9" x 13". The machine weighs a little over 10cwt (or 550kg).

Serial Number 3803 spent most of its working life with a company named Taylors, founded in the 1890s as a small jobbing printer in the town of Wombwell in Yorkshire. By the time this machine was purchased new, Taylors had become a limited company and were one of the leading printers of entertainment industry advertising in the United Kingdom with music halls, fairgrounds and circuses amongst their national client base. 


Our primary business is publishing the Terrascopædia, an illustrated occasional dedicated to underground rock, folk and psychedelic music. We feel that printing the magazine in letterpress gives the pages and the words thereon both weight and dignity. The magazine has depth and warmth; it's a tactile, physical counterpoint to the glossy uniformity of the scrolling acres of today's bland digital media.

The Terrascopædia itself is a direct descendant of a commercially printed offset litho magazine named 'the Ptolemaic Terrascope' which was published between 1989 and 2004, but it's also very much a standalone publication. As far as we know it's the only magazine of its kind in the world.

The primary type used throughout the Terrascopædia is 12pt Poliphilus (Monotype series 170). The fount of metal type currently used was cast for us in 2022 on an original Monotype Composition Caster owned by the Paekakariki Press in Walthamstow, London - quite literally around the corner from where the original Ptolemaic Terrascope magazine was printed - our previous type (12pt Caslon cast for us in 2014) having worn thin with use.  

Poliphilus was a 1923 revival of 15th century lettering introduced by the Monototype Corporation Ltd, then based near Redhill in Surrey, based on the text of the 'Hypnerotomachia Poliphili' which was printed in Venice by Aldus Manitus in 1499. Although during its short life Poliphilus was much admired by members of the Arts and Crafts movement in England and used exclusively by several private presses, it was superseded in 1929 by the completely redrawn Monotype Bembo (series 270) which went on to become hugely successful, thanks in no small part to its adoption in 1935 as the text used throughout Penguin books. Monotype Blado (series 119, 1923) is the italic companion. Both Blado and Poliphilus are used side by side throughout the Terrascopædia

The paper used is mould-made acid-free paper made from part cotton rag with 2 deckle edges. It is unsized so it accepts and enhances the ink, and the smooth surface gives good reproduction of fine detail. We purchase it in bulk from John Purcell's of London, who supply specialist artist papers direct from the mill to some of the most high-profile artists in the UK, as well as institutions such as the British Museum, the British Library and the Victoria and Albert Museum. ​The covers we use are 175gsm Colorplan paper from GF Smith of London (founded 1885). Each copy is then stitched by hand using Crawford's waxed linen thread. 

In addition to publishing the Terrascopædia, we often undertake small jobs for customers including, for example, printing postcards, paper bags, price tags, poetry and inserts for record releases.

In addition to an ever growing collection of vintage images and printing plates, we also have a large selection of both composition and display founts, including:

12pt, 16pt & 24pt Poliphilus #170 (1923)

16pt, 24pt Blado #119 (Italic 1923)

12pt Caslon Old Face #128 

12pt Caslon Old Face #128 SMALL CAPS 

10pt, 12pt, 18pt Caslon Old Style #216

18pt Caslon Bold

12pt, 18pt Baskerville Italic

14pt Broadway 

24pt Colonna 

6pt, 8pt, 12pt, 14pt Gill Sans

8pt, 10pt Gill Italic

6pt, 8pt, 10pt, 12pt, 14pt, 18pt Gill Bold

14pt Gill Title

24pt Gill Cameo

18pt Gill Shadow

18pt & 24pt Borghese (founders type by JG Schelter & Giesecke of Leipzig, 1904)

24pt Haddon Condensed (founders type)

18pt Imprint Shadow Italic

18pt Perpetua Title

8pt, 18pt Plantin

8pt, 12pt Plantin Bold Italic

8pt Rockwell Bold

18pt Rockwell Shadow

8pt, 10pt, 12pt, 18pt Times Bold

8pt, 10pt, 18pt Times Italic

The Staff!

The team...