Contents

Trans-substantial Catholics

Watch this. What are the priests doing? Catholic Litmus Test If you are Catholic, then I hope for the sake of your soul you said he is welcoming Christ bodily into the world. If you didn’t you aren’t looking too […]


Poor Hanno

According to the pop-psychologist-pseudo-science writer Malcolm Gladwell in his magnum lite-opus, the Tipping Point we as a species need risk takers. Individuals who are willing to put it all on the line in pursuit of a goal will, if they […]


Intelligence and Happiness?

A while ago, the Inquisition pondered the nature of intelligence, and whether a certain outlook or attendant mental abilities are guides to or from happiness. This has been obliquely in the news of late…


Buried by the Sea

Its odd. Most graveyards in Connemara appear to be near water, if not actually right on the coast. Why? West Galway, or Connemara, has a lot of unused space. Admittedly, much of the land Connemara is industrially and agriculturally useless, […]


Cycling Two Abreast

Cycling two abreast in Ireland is legal, a protected practice, and it is safer.


Indoors / Outdoors (Defuse)

A talk given by The Inquisition at Defuse, on Wednesday 7th November 2012, as part of Designweek in Dublin, Ireland


Nürnburg’s Extra Bombs

Nürnburg got ripped to shreds by Bomber Harris’ boys. By how much appears to be open to debate.


Law & Morality

The preface to HLA Hart’s publication of his 1961 lecture series on the meeting of law and morality is as prevalent today as it ever was.


Foy – The Bodiless Head

A bodiless head is revered as being Saint Foy, who died a cruel death.


Coffee Haters

There are people out there who pretend to like coffee. Coffee Haters – you have been warned.


False Flags 2

False flag, covert ops by Americans against Americans? Sounds crazy, and so it was deemed.


Plastic 55 Years Ago

55 years ago Roland Barthes considered the importance of plastic and what it meant, as a substance and a symbol.


Cesare Borgia’s Party

The Pope, his son and fifty prostitutes – Cesare Borgia’s party.


Marriage – A Potted History

Marriage is thought by many to be a fixed rite, one which is immovable and inflexible. The truth is that it has not always seemed so…


Blinking Morse

The world was shocked when a victim of torture started blinking morse. The story of a US aviator captured in Vietnam.


Synecdoche

Synecdoche is a powerful, expressive linguistic device


The Inquisition by Ronan McDonnell - Contents Page
The Inquisition by Ronan McDonnell - Semper Quarens - Always Looking

Meynell & Nonesuch

Francis Meynell (1891 – 1975) was a knighted publisher, poet, designer, alumnus of Trinity College, Dublin and a spy (well, not exactly – more of an international man of intrigue).

The ‘Spy’

Meynell’s name has most recently come to light in released MOD papers that detail the official, but secret, version of a set of events that Meynell himself openly described a long time ago.

The story runs, according to the official version at least, that Meynell travelled to Stockholm in 1920 to meet with Russians who had agreed to use riches and spoils from the Workers’ Revolution to bankroll the Daily Herald in London, which was a left wing paper predominantly aimed at Labour voters (when Labour actually meant Labour). The enterprising spy sent to keep a close eye on the proceedings informed his superiors of Meynell”s eventual return with riches concealed in a box of chocolates. Fair enough.

Meynell’s telling of the story, which came out much earlier, is far more entertaining. He tells of travelling all the way to Stockholm to end up in a room adjoining that of another Englishman. This Englishman over the next few nights managed to enter his room, apologising profusely when he saw Meynell was in the room at the time. It seems he later re-entered thinking that Meynell was asleep and was observed carefully examining the room’s contents. The next day Meynell met his Russian connection, got the precious items and put them in the bases of chocolates, leaving them in his room with the wrapping a little bit open. As expected, they were examined. He took them all back out, popped them into the second box he had bought and brought with him from the room, put an address on them and posted them back to England. This left Meynell free to return home empty handed, munching on some nice chocolates.

Edward McKnight Kauffer's poster for the Daily Herald

Edward McKnight Kauffer's poster for the Daily Herald

Design Commissions

Meynell commissioned one of his most successful pieces in the wake of the First World War with the philanthropic aim of brightening the populace’s lives with aspirational imagery. The advert (pictured above) for the dubiously funded Daily Herald, pictured here, was to rejuvenate the British public who had spent the previous years being subjected to sombre images advertising the war effort. The poster made its young designer, Edward McKnight Kauffer, relatively famous and his vorticist work was instantly popular.

Collection of John Donne sermons as printed and published by Nonesuch

Collection of John Donne sermons as printed and published by Nonesuch

Nonesuch

Low cost, high quality. It may sound like a slogan for a carpet sales team but this was in essence what Meynell’s first, and most enduring, foray into publishing was all about. In Meynell’s own words the aim was to release works of ‘significance of subject, beauty of format and moderation of price’.

Monotype Letterpress printing machine

Monotype Letterpress printing machine

Meynell used Monotype machines, as pictured above, to replicate the more laborious methods of handset type in publishing enduring classics such as Shakespeare and Homer (‘Our stock in trade has been the theory that mechanical means could be made to serve fine ends; that the machine in printing was a controllable tool.’). His press commissioned graphic artists of great and international reknown such as Rudolph Koch and produced skillfully bound masterpieces and exquisite papers.

The press issued books that combined Monotype’s modern techniques and proprietary fonts in styles that were very traditional. The output of Nonesuch was essentially the embodiment of the Arts and Crafts Movement’s ideals. Nonesuch was in existence, in one form or another from 1923 to the mid 1960s. Nonesuch’s editions are highly prized and can sell for more than £1000.

Legacy

There was much more to Meynell than simple propaganda. Although he was supported by Russian Revolutionary funds, Meynell’s patriotism was not to be doubted. As an imprisoned conscientious objector during the Great War he was, however, a thorn in the ruling class’ collective side. In funding his projects, his greatest concern was the welfare of the lower British classes, endeavouring to provide them with lower priced literature of the highest production values and newspaper reporting from a tradesman’s perspective. Such was Meynell’s strength of philanthropic conviction and quality of output that he was made Knight Bachelor, in spite of his ‘wanderings’.

Bibliography
Graphic Design, A New history, Stephen J Eskilson, Lawrence King, 2007
Nonesuch Press
The Guardian on the Newly released MOD papers
Wikipedia’s brief entry
Encyclopoedia Britannica

This article was posted by on Thursday, September 3rd, 2009 at 05:06.
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