Welcome to the Gates of Hell (and our New Book)

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Readers of this page have often seen the logo for Lost Art Press, a pair of dividers. This was developed from an image in one of the plates Joseph Moxon published in the joinery volume in his “Mechanick Exercises.” Chris isn’t the first publisher to use such a mark, he was proceeded in the mid 16th-century by his namesake Christoffel Plantin. Plantin founded one of the most successful printing/publishing companies ever; the company in fact outlived him by almost 300 years. After 1557 Plantin always used a pair of dividers for his mark, and included with it his personal motto “Labore et Constantia” (Labor and Constancy).

One of the design features used in the deluxe edition of “To Make as Perfectly as Possible” is the adoption of Plantin’s mark for the title page. Redrawn from a 1578 version, the motto was changed to “hoc opus hic labor est.” For this we reached even farther back in time to Virgil’s famous poem the Aeneid.

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Facilis descensus Averni:
noctes atque dies patet atri ianua Ditis;
sed revocare gradium superasque evadere ad auras.
hoc opus, hic labor est.

The gates of hell are open night and day;
Smooth the descent, and easy is the way:
But to return, and view the cheerful skies,
In this the task and mighty labor lies.

Lines 126-129, translated by John Dryden

True enough, as we found out. . . . Tomorrow, the typefaces used in the deluxe edition.

— Wesley Tanner, designer of “To Make as Perfectly as Possible”

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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9 Responses to Welcome to the Gates of Hell (and our New Book)

  1. fitz says:

    Wesley, I do hope you’re going to get all metaphysical up in here? (i.e. Donne)

  2. M Anderson says:

    Sorry, your ‘case work’ is a little off. ‘Labore’ is in the ablative case, and parallelism would suggest that ‘constantia’ is too. So, the more perfect translation of ‘labore et constantia’ would be “With effort (or labor) and persistence (or constancy)”. That is a much better motto for woodworking with hand tools, e. g. sharpening a scraper or tuning a coffin smoother.

  3. I was about to say a better translation might be “Work and application” or “Work and persistance” lord only knows Chris does both. But M Anderson beat me to it.

  4. Josh Frey says:

    Chris and Everyone Responsible,
    I have greatly enjoyed what I have read so far in Roubo! The labor and persistence shows with the quality of this book. My hope, which might not be yours, is that this project is so successful that you are compelled to translate the whole of Roubo’s work.
    I would add also I had a wonderful time at the release party. As someone relatively new to woodworking it was very nice to connect with others who share my interest in working with hand tools. Thank you for all you do, and keep up the good work.

  5. If you guys start dabbling in Latin translation, you’ll really bring out the pedants!

    • fitz says:

      Hey — I’m proud to be a pedant! e.g. when Shakespeare uses the word in “Love’s Labours Lost,” it means simply “teacher”…but the teacher, Holofernes, exemplifies our modern understanding of the word. (Everyone who knows me, however, is probably relieved that I don’t know Latin.)

  6. Shouldn’t it be preceded??

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