FAITHFULL, Emily, publisher. Adelaide PROCTOR, editor. ~ The Victoria Regia: a Volume of original Contributions in Poetry and Prose. London: Printed and published by Emily Faithfull & Co., Victoria Press, (for the employment of women,) 1861.
Large 8vo (238 × 150 mm), pp. x, 359, . Many ornamental initials and tailpieces designed by women associated with the press. Tiny ink blot to margin of a few leaves towards the end. Publisher’s gilt and blindstamped tan cloth, gilt edges. Slightly rubbed and darkened, very minor fraying at extreme corners and at spine ends, one or two leaves stanfing slightly proud at the fore-edge, but secure in the binding. A veyr good copy.
FIRST EDITION of this important and elaborate production by Emily Faithfull’s Victoria Press, which was managed and operated by women. The press was founded following discussion by the Society for Promoting the Employment of Women who had explored favourable avenues for female employment: ‘One possibility considered was that of compositor, a skilled trade almost wholly confined to men, already effectively unionized and jealously guarded against both unskilled machine operators and any incursions by women. Bessie Parkes bought a small printing press, and she and Emily Faithfull employed a compositor, Austin Holyoake (brother of George Jacob Holyoake), to give instruction in composing. On the basis of this experience they concluded that composing could be a suitable occupation for women. To this end, on 25 March 1860, Emily Faithfull opened the Victoria Press at Great Coram Street, London. She invested her own capital in the press and had the financial backing of another committee member of the Society for Promoting the Employment of Women, G. W. Hastings.
The press employed at the outset some semi-experienced female compositors, who existed despite the trade restrictions practised by men, but the venture was to remain an irritant to many compositors and others in the printing trade. It was nevertheless a commercial success, although the women compositors only composed and proof-read, unlike later women printers working for the Women's Printing Society (founded in 1876 by Emma Paterson's Women's Protective and Provident League, with which Emily Faithfull was also associated), who also carried out both imposition and ‘making up’ (making up the type into pages and placing them in the iron frame or chase for printing). Initially Emily Faithfull both printed and published, one of her earliest works being The Victoria Regia (1861), edited by Adelaide Ann Procter. The work and the press attracted the approval of Queen Victoria, and in that same year Emily Faithfull was appointed by royal warrant 'Printer and Publisher in Ordinary to Her Majesty’ (Oxford DNB).