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Alessandro Zanella

In Memoriam

Alessandro Zanella, Portrait
Alessandro Zanella 1955-2012 

The celebrated Veronese letterpress printer Alessando Zanella died suddenly this summer at the young age of 56 years. He was born in the Veneto and attended he Liceo Scientifico Statale in Verona before being drafted into the army. Upon his discharge he applied to the School of the Book in Urbino but missed the deadline. Jacques Verniere, a French printer in Verona brought him to the American expatriate printer Richard-Gabriel Rummonds, proprietor of The Plain Wrapper Press in Verona, who took him on as an apprentice. In an era when letterpress printing was giving way to photocomposition and offset printing this was a unique opportunity to learn about printing on the iron hand press as well as to imbibe the tenets of good typography and book design. Zanella was a quick study, becoming Rummonds' partner in 1978. 

Rummonds left Italy in 1982 to establish the Book Arts program at the University of Alabama. Zanella decided to continue letterpress printing on his own, establishing Ampersand as his imprint. Over the next decade he designed and printed illustrated limited edition books, among them Sul teatro delle marionette by Heinrich von Kleist with four etchings by Neil Moore (1984) and Persephone by Yannis Ritsos with prints by Joe Tilson (1990). In 1994 Zanella printed Le Carte del cielo, the first in a series of eleven short narrative texts by Italian authors selected and edited by Sandro Bortone. The series was Monotype Bembo, one of Zanella's two favorite typefaces (the other being Jan van Krimpen's Spectrum from Enschede). 

From the mid-1990s on Zanella began to introduce digital typefaces, printed from polymer plates, into his work. He also began to explore book structures, working in close collaboration with artists. One of the most important of these is Vetrinetta accidentale by Mario Luzi with etchings by Walter Valentini (2005) commissioned by Cento Amici del Libro. In 2000 Zanella began to teach courses and workshops on printing with the iron hand press at his stamperia, often in collaboration with various universities and book arts organizations. His teaching played a major role in the spread of interest in typography and the book arts in Italy, especially among a younger generation, in the past decade. 

A major exhibition of Zanella's work, accompanied by a comprehensive catalogue, was held at the Biblioteca Vallicelliana in Rome in 2009. 

I wish to heartily thank Lucio Passerini and Richard-Gabriel Rummonds for providing the information on Alessando Zanella's life that is the basis for this obituary. 

Obituary written by Paul Shaw.
A CHRISTMAS RECIPE
Anthony Burgess 1917-1993
Verona: Plain Wrapper Press, 1977
PR6052 U638 C47 1977
 
“Natale 1977 One hundred and eighty copies of this Christmas recipe (written by Anthoney Burgess and illustrated by Fulvio Testa) were printed for friends of the participants on a Washington hand press by Richard-Gabriel Rummonds & Alessandro Zanella at the Plain Wrapper Press in Verona, Italy. Bon appetite!” From the Colophon.
Burgess, A Christmas Recipe, Red
 
CIRCHE E CENE = CIRCUSES AND SUPPERS
Andrea Zanzotto
Verona: Plain Wrapper Press
PQ4851 A74 A22 1979
 
"This edition, limited to one hundred fifty copies and signed by the author and the artist, was printed on an 1847 Washington handpress by Gabriel Rummonds and Alessandro Zanella"--Colophon.
Zanzotto, Cirche e cene,
 
CANTATA DE BOMARZO
Manuel Mujica Láinez
Verona, Italy: Plain Wrapper Press, 1981
PQ7797 M74 C26 1981
 
“This edition, limited to eighty-three numbered copies signed by the author and by the artist, was printed on an 1847 Washington handpress by Gabriel Rummons and Alessandro Zanella at the Plain Wrapper Press in Verona, Italy. The type is handset Horizon Light with display lettering by Golda Fishbein. The paper, which was printed damp, was handmade at Wookey Hole in England. The etchings were pulled by Cataldo Serafini in Bologna. The original Spanish text was translated into English by Gabriel Rummonds. All rights reserved. This is copy number 37” From the Colophon.
Mujica, Canrara de Bomarzo, Title page
 
THE RIVER: A POEM
Paul Zweig
Verona, Italy: Plain Wrapper Press, 1981
PS3576 W4 R5 1981
 
“This edition, limited to one hundred & twenty copies signed by the author and the artist, was printed on an 1847 Washington handpress by Gabriel Rummonds and Alessandro Zanella at the Plain Wrapper Press in Verona, Italy. The type is handset Post Mediaeval cast by H. Berthold A.G. in Berlin. Anita Karl lettered the title. The paper, which was printed damp, was handmade at the Wookey Hole Mill in England. The etchings were pulled by Giorgio Upiglio in Milano. The last from of text was printed in September 1981. This project is supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, D.C., a Federal Agency. This is copy number 9.” From the Colophon.
Zweig, The river, spread
 
THE SHIP OF SOUNDS
John Fuller
Sidcot, Winscombe, Somerset, England: Gruffyground Press, 1981
PR6056 U43 S5 1981
 
“This edition, limited to one hundred and thirty copies, was printed on an Albion handpress by Richard-Gabriel Rummonds and Alessandro Zanella in November 1981 at the Plain Wrapper Press in Verona, Italy. The type is handset Spectrum. The papers are handmade Fabriano Roma Michelangelo and Veronese and were printed damp. The publisher is Anthony Baker at the Gruffyground Press, Ladram, Sidcot, Winscombe, Somerset, England.” From the Colophon.
Fuller, The ship of sounds, title page
 
PRIMA CHE TU DICA “PRONTO”
Italo Calvino
Cottondale, Ala.: Plain Wrapper Press, 1985
PQ4809 A45 P713 1985
 
“This edition, limited to seventy-five numbered copies and signed by the author and the artist, was printed on an 1847 Washington handpress at Gabriel Rummonds & Alessandro Zanella’s Plain Wrapper Press in Cottondale, Alabama. The type is handset Post Mediaeval which was cast by H. Berthold A.G. The paper was handmade at the Cartiere Enrico Magnani and was printed damp. The woodcuts were printed by Antony O’Hara & John Coleman in the spring of 1985. This is copy number 4 and was printed for Tom & Elfie Rummonds.” From the Colophon.
Calvina, Prima che tu..., spread
 
PERSEPHONE
Giannēs Ritsos 1909-
Verona: Edizioni Ampersand, 1990
PA5629 I7 P47 1990
 
“This typographical edition of Persephone set with Antigone and Lutetia types at the SchumacherGebler monotype company was printed on a 1854 Stanhope hand press by Alessandro Zanella. The eighty copies of the edition are identified by Arabic numerals and signed on the colophon by the author and the artist. The hand-made paper, dampened before printing, comes from the Cartiere Miliani in Fabriano. The screenprinting on the cover was pulled at the Stamperia d’Arte Berardinelli. The edition was completed in Verona at the Edizioni Ampersand in the spring 1990. This is copy number 32” From the Colophon.
Ritsos, Persephone, cover
 

Elia Vannina

ELIA E VANNINA
Federigo Tozzi 1883-1920.
Verona : Edizioni Ampersand, 1994
PQ4843 O8 E45 1994

 

 

VILLA CON ALBERGO

VILLA CON ALBERGO
Marcello Gallian 1902-1968.
1995 Verona: Edizioni Ampersand, 1995
PQ4817 A47 V55 1995

 

 

Zaccaria

ZACCARIA
Paolo Valera 1850-1926.
Verona: Edizioni Ampersand, 1995
PQ4847 A437 Z33 1995

 

Donna

DONNA NERVOSA
Bonaventura Tecchi 1896-1968.
Verona: Edizioni Ampersand, 1996
PQ4843 E36 D6 1996

 

PENSIERI

PENSIERI
Giuseppe Rensi 1871-1941.
1997 Verona : Edizioni Ampersand
PQ5839 E28 P46 1997
 

 

TRE POESIE
Vittorio Sereni
Verona : Edizioni Ampersand, 1997
PQ4879 E74 T74 1997
 
Sereni, Tre poesie, spread
 
 
L'ALTRO EMPIREO
Umberto Eco
Verona : Alessandro Zanella, 1998
PQ4865 C6 A47 1998
 
Eco, L’Altro, spread
 
 
LINEA
Alessandro Zanella printer.
Santa Lucia ai Monti, Verona: Edizioni Ampersand, 1999
PQ4851 A72 L5 1999
 
Zanella, Linea, zig-zag
 
 
NOTTE CHIARA
Antonella Anedda
Verona : Edizioni Ampersand, 2001
PQ4861 N362 N67 2001
 
Limited ed. of 200 numbered copies signed by the author and the illustrator.
 
Anedda, Notte, spread
 
 
POEMI LIRICI
Riccardo Bacchelli 1891-
Santa Lucia ai Monti, Verona: Ampersand, 2002
PQ4807 A23 P64 2002
 
Bacchelli, Poemi, pages-34-35
 
 
ECCE VIDEO
Valerio Magrelli 1957-
Verona: Ampersand, 2006
PQ4873 A3624 E33 2006
 
Designed and printed in an edition of 100 copies by Alessandro Zanella; signed by the author and the artist.
 
Magrelli, Ecce, II
 

L'ombra e la piego

L'OMBRA E LA PIEGA
Nicola Dal Falco
Verona: Ampersand, 2009
N7443.4 D33 O5 2009
Bound as an accordion-fold; housed in a plexiglass slip case. Photograph of Madelyn Garrett's Rapunzel made from silkscreen acrylic, gold floss, and beads, 3" x 2.25". Accompanies review of Baby Doe Tabor: The madwoman in the cabin by Judy Nolte Temple, reviewed by Susanne George Bloomfield. Photograph printed in Summer 2008 issue of Western American literature, with permission of the Rare Books Division, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.

 

STAMPARE AD ARTE
Verona : Ampersand
N7433.35 I8 S73 2009
 
Catalog of an exhibition held at the Biblioteca Vallicelliana, Rome, Italy, November 10-23, 2009
 
Stampare, Alessandro-photo
 Last Modified 9/3/14