Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Gianni Basso, Venetian Printer

Somewhere in the middle of Venice you can find the printing shop of Gianni Basso. It's a little like a cave -- narrow, dark, and cool (at least near the air conditioner). It's full of presses, type, packages, and printed cards.

Gianni has been printing there for over 30 years; his son works with him now. They produce an array of cards for purchase, though it seems their bread and butter may be commissioned book plates that usually say Ex Libris and the book owner's name, combined with one of the hundreds of engraved illustrations in Gianni's collection.

Book plates on his shelves have been made for lots of people I never heard of, plus Paul Rand, Ben Affleck, and Scott Turow.

Above, shown in the shop window, just a few of his cards with their beautiful botanical illustrations.

A case full of animal illustrations.

One of the presses. The platform shows the wear of 30 years of use, while the press goes on unaltered, though probably not unoiled.

Gianni has no fax, no website, and no email, and he doesn't take credit cards. Not surprisingly, he has a rotary phone, too. Some of the mail he receives is beautiful all by itself.

His business card and address, in case you want to order something.

I'm not sure who lettered this card for him, but I have the feeling it was created by a fan.

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