Thoughts on lettering Typographic ephemera

Pictured in type

Making pictures from type goes back a long way – how long I can’t answer and I haven’t done the research but believe me it is a long time.

On the occasion of the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Pictures from Type_0002Frances (as she was then) on 29 July 1981 I and a colleague put together this offering – the additional inscription The only safe fast breeder is a Royal (in Times New Roman, letterpress) added when the pregnancy was announced in 1982 (Prince William was born on 21 June 1982) and alludes to concerns over nuclear reactors – 1982 was also the year the UK went to war with Argentina over the Falklands.

Now McDonald’s have caught on.

Though Pictures from Type_0001they may show promise – and are clearly done on computer – compare and contrast (as my English teacher at secondary school used to say to us)  this 1953 effort by Dennis Collins of Queen Elizabeth II.

It comes from Typewriter Art, 1975, London Magazine Editions (another item to be added to your ever Pictures from Typelengthening Christmas wish list). This piece was done on a typewriter and Collins notes: ‘The Queen’s portrait … [was] done on an old portable on which spaces could not be finely adjusted – this accounts for the horizontal white strips across the face…’ (For an earlier post on typewriter art see here.)Pictures from Type_0003

Collins (born 1912) was a notable cartoonist who did ‘The Perishers’ comic strip for the Daily Mirror from 1958 to 1983. If you know more about Collins please let me know.

Note – the lettering on the Charles and Diana card was done with Letraset.

2 replies on “Pictured in type”

Before I add comment to this post I would like to thank you for a very interesting and informative website, although I cannot understand how I have overlooked it in the past.

In 1958, midway through my six year apprenticeship as a letterpress compositor I attended the Cursitor Street school of the Monotype Corporation in London on the keyboard course. In what I think was the common room there was a collection of framed prints which intrigued me.They featured the Queen’s parents King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and princesses Elizabeth and Margaret. On close inspection they had been created in type. I have many times thought about these images over more than fifty years working in print and media, then reading through your website I came across this post and decided to research if there was any record of them.

The “miracle” of google+youtube presented the answer in the form of a Pathe News clip from 1939 ( The detail, shadow and highlight were as I remembered them although the prints they show in the film don’t have the same density. Obviously a publicity piece but the planning and the skill involved would have been pure Monotype.

Thanks you Stan for your kind comments and I appreciate your interest in my blog on things typographic. The video was wonderful and so much reminded me of when I had my own Monotype installation. Nowadays such work is almost commonplace: just a couple of generations gone and here we are on our computers. Yet the keyboard remains (even on an iPad).

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