By Oak, Ash & Thorn

In times of austerity one’s imagination can often be the key to making a dream become reality.  In 1928 Geoffrey Higgens, honourary secretary of the Brighton based Apollo Arts Club, shocked at the prices of printing presses decided to construct his own – from a piece of oak, a tombstone and a flat iron!  He published the club’s magazine, The Delphic, and called it  The Oak, Ash & Thorn Press.  It is possible this name originated from Kipling’s story ‘Weland’s sword’ from Puck of Pook’s Hill which was published in 1906, where the line ‘by oak, ash and thorn’ appears.

We only have a couple of items from this small press, one of which is a collection of six hand printed rhyme sheets in a decorated folder.  Only 5o copies were printed.  Each sheet is decorated with one main illustration above the poem, and one smaller vignette at the base of the sheet.  The woodcuts were by Geoffrey Higgens himself, as were two of the poems; the others being by Maurice Elford and Kathleen Moore.  A mixture of styles and themes, it is Tripedence by Mauric Elford that stands out for its glorious use of nonsense words.

Tripedence by Maurice Elford

Peace in the candle shop hugs
The mysterious blan of fendestuous sequins
(Hooting with nargic distribulancy)
Till the toll of the tull tells tales
Of Sharness in sibisticism.


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