Want List: Fac 461 Volume Catalogs Factory Record Design

FAC 461 book covrer design

FAC 461 is available in a limited edition of…you guessed it, 461 copies

Back in 2007 there was a coffee table book devoted to the complete design output of Factory Records called “Factory Records: The Complete Graphic Album,” as published by Thames + Hudson as compiled and written by Matthew Robertson. I put a copy on my want list and there it has stayed. Over the years I would look into the availability of the tome and it didn’t take long for it to spike up and out of my reach, fiscally. But, lo, it is being republished in a newer, more posh edition being pre-sold by Volume, who are another crowdsource platform I’d not run into yet.

Peter Saville portrait

Peter Saville: “Goodbye, Mr. Bond…”

I’m not sure when it was announced, but the 461 copies are not sticking around for long. I looked into this last weekend after a provocative message from Echorich on the subject and as of today, there are 276 copies left. In fact, that number has decreased during this blogpost. So if this has your name on it, act fast! The volume is a hard cover 224 page guide to the mandatory images that adorned Factory Records under the guidance of Peter Saville; graphic designer to the stars. The book after subscription will be produced to ship in the 4th quarter of 2020. The republishing of the edition will be tying in with a show on Factory Design at the Manchester Science + Industry Museum; if it presumably ever re-opens. Currently it is closed due to covid-19, but the wheels of publishing yet turn.

new order power corruption + lies from FAC461

Sure, sure. We all have a copy of this one, yes?

I own several monographs on the work of Saville, and this would be another great addition to my graphic design library, but the buy-in is a tad rich for my blood. The laser-cut slipcase of this edition harkens back to Ben Kelly’s brilliant perforated steel motif that Saville extrapolated into the iconic “Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark debut album cover as seen adjacent. The cost is £95/$115. Not skyscraping, but more than I care to spend at this time – in spite of the Plummeting Pound. Fortunately, there seem to be copies of the old paperback I missed in 2007 surfacing no at a price in line with my budget. So I should try to obtain one of those before it creeps back up and out of financial reach.

factory complete graphic album paperback cover art

The 2007 paperback edition of the book

Speaking of Saville, I was just re-reading Midge Ure’s autobio while waiting for my computer to shut down last night and I re-acquainted myself with just how Saville had come to design for Ultravox from 1981 to 1984. Credit Chris Cross for noting how fantastic the Factory Records design looked and bringing him on board. Saville, the cheeky devil he is, called Ultravox on the carpet for ripping off his design work, citing the “Vienna” cover in relation to his own “Closer” cover. That’s exceptionally cheeky considering that “Vienna was released on July 11, 1980; a full week prior to the release of “Closer” on July 18, 1980!

ultravox vienna cover artJoy Division closer cover art

Yeah, the layouts are superficially similar. What Ure’s book did not reveal was that Saville had been a big Ultravox fan during the band’s Foxx years. He was probably thrilled to have a band that high in his esteem to come calling. Though after Saville getting to design Roxy Music covers by 1980, I’m sure it all seemed a little minor. But a study of John Foxx’s design [under his real name, Dennis Leigh] for the third Ultravox album reveals a much stronger current of influence, and not in the direction Saville claimed.

ultravox - systems of romance cover art

In 1978, when Saville was a student this cover was his touchstone

This was a cover that ticked so many Saville boxes yet to happen.

  • Jan Tischold classical serif typography
  • color repro ink swatch screens and separation codes used in a deconstructivist fashion in plain view as part of the design
  • coldly analytical stock photography

That cover was something that graphic designer Dennis Leigh produced in 1978 but it prefigures the Factory aesthetic for 1980-85 like nothing else I could name.

If this book has your name on it, hit that button.

communist purchase button

– 30 –





About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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7 Responses to Want List: Fac 461 Volume Catalogs Factory Record Design

  1. bpdp3 says:

    Hmmm… you may be on to something with your “Systems of Romance” as Factory design-precursor theory!

    I was lucky to score the softcover of this relatively cheaply a few years back. Great images as you’d expect. Always find myself getting sucked in when a label (or genre) maintains a certain visual aesthetic. Holds true for Factory, 4AD, 50s-60s Bluenote Records or even the more recent ‘vaporwave’ movement. Some very common visual cues for all.

    I suppose some people like their coffee-table books to be nothing but bald eagles soaring over snow-capped mountains. Me…. not so much!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Echorich says:

    That Systems Of Romance album prefigures so much, both visually and aurally. I have come close over the last day or two to purchasing…let’s see what happens when my paycheck clears into the bank account next week….


  3. Gavin says:

    I remember seeing the original at the time in various shops but never got around to buying it.
    Amazon UK is still selling the paperback for just £17.99,so thats something.
    That sleeve for Systems of Romance is indeed a classic and trailblazer.I got really into Foxx when I found the double-single of “Your Dress” in Woolworths record dept.Birkenhead and was drawn in by the amazing sleeve.I had a passing familiarity with the previous solo singles,but this was when I became A FAN and it was all due to the artwork.
    Fast forward a few years and I have a beautiful signed numbered photo print of the sleeve to “My Lost City” hanging in my bedroom as well as two pieces by Karborn,who has been a friend for many years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jordan says:

      I purchased my copy when it originally came out. Mine has a hardcover. Well worth it if you followed the Factory aesthetic. You now have the backstory to all the wonderful Factory artwork. I enjoyed going through my Factory records and linking to the history.

      Interesting comment about Vienna and Closer. Must have been a coincidence or maybe that was the design vibe in certain circles at the time. Brian Griffin photograph on Vienna.

      The only album I have by the Foxx era Ultravox is Systems of Romance. I was never into that period of the band. I’m an Ure fan. But it was ahead of its time as far as design. At least as far as Saville is concerned.


  4. negative1ne says:

    hi mr monk,
    no, i’m not getting this, although it would be
    nice to have. there are 42 copies left as of

    but i came across this much more affordable
    book : peter saville : editions, which i had
    not seen.

    so i’m ordering that instead, probably nothing
    new in it. but i’m a sucker for the art books.



    • negative1ne says:

      hi mr. monk,

      well the fac 461 finally sold out. so expect very expensive prices in the future.

      i did get the 2 books in the editions i mentioned above. they show off a lot
      of his 3d work now. the first book is excellent. the 2nd book is hilarious, as
      its a collection of all the ‘this object has been removed’ tags you see in
      museums when the artwork is removed. these are all designed by him too.

      i got a good laugh out of it.

      good for collectors, but others might feel shorted.
      but for the price, $40 for both, in a nice slipcase, why not.



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