Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)MS121
TitlePardoe Archive
Extent2 boxes
DescriptionThe majority of this collections consists of correspondence sent to Frank Ernest Pardoe (known as Bill) relating to his private press interests and publications he produced. Correspondents include other contemporary private press owners such as Iain Bain of Laverock Press, Duine Campbell of Black Knight Press, Will Carter of Rampant Lions Press, Rigby Graham of Cog Press and David Chambers of Cuckoo Hill Press; Laurence Whistler, Michael Felmingham and others, as well as letters from institutions. Many of the letters from private printers are on headed notepaper with specially designed logo's or images.

There are a several examples of Pardoe's printing work in the collection, along with sketches, proofs and printing blocks. Although a large number of Pardoe's printed publications are discussed, significant correspondence focuses on his work to produce 'Fingal's Cave', 'For Example' and 'A Bridge on the Usk', all by Laurence Whistler; and R. D. Blachford's 'Poems'.
Access ConditionsAccess to all registered readers
Finding AidsA catalogue of this collection is available on the online archive catalogue. Click on the Finding Number to display the summary contents list of the catalogue and to view the full catalogue, or view the catalogue as a PDF file by clicking in the document field below. A paper copy is also available in the Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections Department.
Access StatusOpen
Administrative HistoryFrank Ernest Pardoe (known as Bill), 1915-2002. Pardoe was born in Birmingham and lived there all his life apart from six months studying for his degree at the University of Dijon. He taught in Birmingham schools until he was appointed to the English Department of Birmingham College of Commerce in 1957. There he set up a practical course for students of bibliography with two colleagues, using an old Cropper press and some type from a local printer. Together they started publishing, calling themselves the Morenardo Press (Morbey, Fox and Pardoe). As his colleagues were also called Frank, Pardoe became known as Bill. Later they obtained an Albion press and some type from Stephenson Blake. Bill's first press at home was an Adana Quarto Platen, but he eventually bought the Albion and used it from then on.

Eric Gee and Christopher Skelton were both working in Birmingham at that time. Through them Bill joined the Society of Private Printers, and his own work became more widely known. Examples of his work were selected for the major exhibition of private press printing at the Swiss Cottage Library in 1976 to celebrate Caxton's quincentenary (see the catalogue reference: MS121/4/1).
Pardoe made a major contribution to the history of printing with his biography John Baskerville of Birmingham, published in 1975. He also helped design the memorial to Baskerville outside Baskerville House, based on the six punches used for the title of Baskerville's Virgil.

Pardoe became involved in the work of Dame Hildelith Cumming of the Stanbrook Abbey Private Press. He regularly reviewed her fine press books in the Birmingham Post from 1958 and corresponded with her. In consequence Bill adopted the Stanbrook Abbey typeface, Spectrum, designed by Jan van Krimpen.

Pardoe did not have a name for his press or use a pressmark but printed under his own name. He usually included his initials and the date on what he printed. His interest in printing was to give pleasure to those whose work he printed or to whom he gave the products of the Press.

Bill Pardoe was also a practising journalist. He regularly reviewed crime fiction for the Birmingham Post and chaired the committee of the Crime Writers Association which awards the Golden Dagger for the best crime novel of the year. He also wrote two books for journalists on plain English. He was Chairman of the book committee of the Birmingham Library 1950-71, chaired a committee on local radio for the West Midlands, and was Vice-Chairman of the Birmingham Bibliographical Society. In 1993 he received an Honorary Degree from the University of Birmingham for a life-time's service to the City.

Information mainly from the Birmingham City Council website (web address correct May 2013):
Custodial HistoryAcquired from the executor of the estate of the widow of F. E. Pardoe.
AcquisitionPurchased by Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections, March 2004 and July 2002.