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Exterior View of shed - The Ptolemaic Press, Wiltshire Ptolemaic Press Equipment of shed - The Ptolemaic Press, Wiltshire View towards doors of shed - The Ptolemaic Press, Wiltshire Printing Presses of shed - The Ptolemaic Press, Wiltshire Typesetting in the garden studio of shed - The Ptolemaic Press, Wiltshire Printed papers on the drying rack of shed - The Ptolemaic Press, Wiltshire Photo 7 of shed - The Ptolemaic Press, Wiltshire Photo 8 of shed - The Ptolemaic Press, Wiltshire Photo 9 of shed - The Ptolemaic Press, Wiltshire Photo 10 of shed - The Ptolemaic Press, Wiltshire Photo 11 of shed - The Ptolemaic Press, Wiltshire Photo 12 of shed - The Ptolemaic Press, Wiltshire
All photos are copyright sheddie Philip McMullen | View Video

The Ptolemaic Press

  • Sheddie:

    Philip McMullen
  • Location:

    Half way up our garden in Melksham - Wiltshire
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    Shed Features

    The Ptolemaic Press is a private (i.e. not commercial) printing press publishing hand-crafted publications on vintage equipment housed in a bespoke, colourful log cabin nestled beside a small orchard in a Wiltshire garden.

    We specialise in letterpress printing short print runs of magazines and occasional poetry, typically two to three titles per year. Letterpress is on the endangered list of heritage crafts - there are very few practising private presses left in the UK (owner Phil McMullen is a member of the the Oxford Guild of Printers as well as a member of the guild of Heritage Crafts)

    There are actually four presses - the largest weighs well over 10 hundredweight (around 550 kilos) and is 100 years old, and there is a large collection of mostly metal type (plus some wood type as well) and associated equipment, including a book press, all of which weighs several tons. This meant the floor had to be specially strengthened and supporting ground screws set under the base.

    Other Shed info

    Humidity is also a key factor, as the hand-made paper used and all of metal needs to be kept dry and at room temperature year round.

    The 5.5m x 3m wide cabin is therefore built from larger than usual 58mm solid tongue & groove timber walls, and the space is electrically heated. Hidden guttering carries away the rainwater from the gently sloping roof to one of ten large water butts dotted around the garden.

    The studio also doubles up as a craft space, and has an Ercol rocking chair for added comfort.

    As a bonus, we also had a utility room added to the rear which has nothing to do with the printing operation - it's used to store garden produce such as an apple rack (I mentioned the cabin is located next to an orchard - we have a large apple press as well. It seems I rather enjoy pressing things...), bottles of juice, potatoes, onions, carrots etc.

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