The Brenthurst Press

In the early 1970s, Harry Oppenheimer founded The Brenthurst Press to publish works based on the holdings of the library, so that the resources of the library would be available to a wider audience. He wished the books to be both scholarly and attractive, so authors with expert subject knowledge are commissioned and the books are produced to archival standards.

The first two Brenthurst Series, produced between 1974 and 1994 very largely reproduced manuscript and artwork collections with annotations, additional informed comment and illustrations. With the third Series the aim has been broadened to include new research and academic debate amongst participating authors.

The library staff work closely with the authors, assisting with research and editing, while the art librarian co-ordinates the search for pictorial material, obtaining copyright permission and references from external institutions. There is detailed work on all maps and appendixes included in the books. A general editor oversees the overall editing, the design of every two-page spread and the team sub-contracted to do the scanning and photography. The general editor and the art librarian go to Cape Town to work with the printers, CTP Book Printers (Pty) Ltd, taking with them many of the original artworks and maps being illustrated to enable fine quality control of the printing processes. The binder takes over the supervision of final inspection of pages before folding, cutting, sewing and binding.

Marketing is organized from The Brenthurst Press office at the library. Promotional pamphlets, publishers packs and brochures are prepared and distributed to booksellers, locally and abroad. Books can also be purchased directly from the office. The books are launched locally in Johannesburg and in London and are reviewed by historians and subject specialists in South Africa and the United Kingdom.