Categories
Thoughts on lettering

Christmas Quiz 2016 [Number 3]: the answer

It’s that time of year again – time for the ‘famousAll About Lettering Quiz that comes without a Prize – just the quiet satisfaction that in correctly answering you, dear reader, know one hell of a lot about typography and the printing arts!

So, who is illustrated here and what is wrong with the image, according to one historian?

1 January: Thank you to all readers who took up the challenge. As most of you correctly identified this is a portrait of our man Gutenberg (or Guttemberg) and used as a frontispiece in Moxon’s Mechanick Exercises… It is believed to have come from an engraving made in 1584, though this shown is taken from a 17c painting that copied the 16c engraving. The painting was destroyed by fire in Strasbourg in 1870. What is wrong about it? Some authorities attest Gutenberg was beardless. [See Ruppel, A, 1947: Johannes Guteberg. Berlin.]

christmas-quiz-2016

Categories
History of Lettering Thoughts on lettering

The Noblest Roman

The Book Club of California has just published  The Noblest Roman: A History of the Centaur Types of Bruce Rogers by Jerry Kelly and Misha Beletsky ‘an immersive dive into the history of the Centaur typeface, complete with rarely seen drawings and proofs from the Monotype archives and the Library of Congress’. Do check it out….

For more on Bruce Rogers see my post herecentaur jenson

Categories
Elements of Lettering lettering lettering, typography, alphabets, stonework printing Typographic ephemera

Something Rampant for the weekend

Looking through my collection of typography today I came across these images, included in Portfolio Three by The Rampant Lions Press, Cambridge, England, dated 1982. I have written about Will and Sebastian Carter many times throughout the life of this blog so please hit the search key to find out more, or send me an email. Enjoy your weekend. (This was a regular feature of the blog – the last entry can be found here.)

Franklin typeface
Franklin typeface
Rampant Lions Press prospectus
Rampant Lions Press prospectus

 

Categories
Thoughts on lettering

Something French for the weekend, oui?

This from Penrose 39 (1937). A beautiful example of French typography of that pre-war period.

debernu

Categories
lettering printing

Even more letterpress in Australia

Following my recent visit to Dorrigo (see here) and the last Australian newspaper still printed letterpress I have another discovery, and this time it is even closer to where I live, on the border between NSW and Queensland, Australia.

A news item in my local paper mentioned the Olive and Volcano press. The team of Jo and Andy print and publish a wide collection of letterpress. If you are in this part of the world do check them out.

2chokus

Categories
lettering, typography, alphabets, stonework Thoughts on lettering typography

Something bookish for the weekend

Bradbury Thompson (1911 – 1995) did much for graphic, book and postage stamp design during the 20th century. I came across him recently when I purchased from a second-hand bookshop his 1988 The Art of Graphic Design, from which the accompanying illustrations are taken. Homage to the Book 2He was intimately involved with the Westvaco Corporation, a US-based paper manufacturer, and this led to many fruitful collaborations, including Homage to the Book. Homage to the Book

In the introduction to The Art he concludes:

‘This volume can provide only a time-lapse camera glimpse of an involvement with the graphic arts. Yet it is hoped that the retrospective may inspire thoughts about possible rewards with typography as a tool, a toy, and a teacher in the graphic design of this computer age’.

Homage to the Book_0001

Categories
lettering, typography, alphabets, stonework Thoughts on lettering typography

Robert Harling: a note

This post begins with the discovery of a copy of Image: 5  from a secondhand bookseller in Sydney, Australia last month. Robert HarlingThe issue was devoted to English wood engraving and contains many fine examples of the craft. But I Robert Harling_0001am less interested in that than in the man who edited the journal (and before that Alphabet & Image) – Robert Harling (1910 – 2008). Obituaries at the time of his passing make note of his relationship with Ian Fleming, both men sharing a passion for life and literature: Fleming secured, if that’s the right word, a job for Harling in the second world war, later using him as a character in one of his novels (The Spy Who Loved Me). Harling also turned his hand to fiction publishing several novels based on what was then Fleet Street, the centre of the newspaper industry in the UK. Later he worked with the renowned Sunday Times editor Harold Evans.

But it’s Harling as a typographer that I wish to write. He knew Eric Gill, visiting him at Pigotts (see here for a blog on that place) and commissioning articles for the precursor to Alphabet & Image, Typography. Robert Harling_0003Hence, he was a perfect fit to write that wonderful book The Letter Forms And Type Designs Of Eric Gill, published in 1976, an expanded version of pieces published first in Alphabet & Image. 

Not that Harling was an uncritical devotee. In an article printed in The Penrose Annual XXXIX (1937) he writes of Gill’s Kayo: ‘Kayo is a dismal type. In the hands of a skilful typographer it could probably be made to do a good-hearted, gargantuan job very well. In the hands of jobbing printers scattered throughout England it will be just plain MURDER. The type was originally named Double Elefans, which had a very pleasant touch of the lampoon about it. The new name, Kayo, is too horribly truthful. It will be popular from John o’Groat’s to Land’s End, but it will be a return to the popularity of the types of Thorne and Thorowgood in that grim mid-nineteenth century. Typographical historians of 2000 AD (which isn’t, after all, so very far away) will find this odd outburst in Mr Gill’s career, and will spend much time in attempting to track down this sad psychological state of his during 1936.’

Harling also designed three typefaces: Playbill, Chisel and Tea Chest Robert Harling_0004while his passion for architecture and design led him to edit  House & Garden from 1957 to 1993. A remarkable man. rsa-harling

 

 

Categories
Thoughts on lettering

‘Paragraphs on Printing’ and the demise of the secondhand bookshop

Last week I chanced across a first edition of Rogers’s Paragraphs on Printing at a secondhand bookstore in Sydney, Australia. paragraphs aThis was a wonderful discovery, though I was impressed at the size and range of books on printing, typography and bibliography at this shop.

I have had a Dover reprint of this book for many years so was familiar with the contents but the ‘real deal’ was a delight to hold and handle. As I took the book home with me I wondered how long it had remained in this store, how long had it been since it had seen sunlight on its covers. I reflected that I was liberating the book from its imprisonment, giving it a new lease. However, this particular store is not long for this place. It is closing, and all books there were at half the price that had been carefully inscribed in a 2B pencil on the flyleaf. (I’ll let you into a secret – the original price for Rogers was 100 Australian dollars.)

My delight at finding this volume was tempered later by the realisation that yet another secondhand bookshop is going, in this case the owner is taking the contents online. Now, I may be old-fashioned but browsing a bookshop, let alone one that sells a pot-pourri of books just ain’t the same online. I love the randomness of secondhand stores, the fact that despite the efforts of the staff to place their charges in some order you yet may stumble upon a curiosity, a treasure, something that you’d never find elsewhere in this ordered, well-mannered world.

paragraphs bLet us support our secondhand bookshops, let us open new ones, let us let others know our enthusiasms for this remnant of a milder time.

Categories
printing

Cost of paper in 15th century

Today paper is taken for granted. It is cheap, readily available (despite predictions three decades ago about the ‘paperless office’) and durable – mostly. Not so in the 15th century.

I take these comments from Drawing in Early Renaissance Italy by Francis Ames-Lewis (Yale UP,  1981) who notes that paper had been in production since 1276 at Fabriano (of course paper had been produced in China long before then – during the Han dynasty, c BCE200-200AD), and which by the mid-forteenth century had become one of Europe’s leading centres. images

The invention of printing by moveable type in Europe triggered the expansion of paper making but prices were high since the raw material continued (until the 18th centre) to be cotton. Ames-Lewis observes that ‘in the 15th century good quality paper cost about one-sixth the price of parchment…[and] the cost of paper was a surprisingly high proportion of the total cost of book production. For the edition of 1,025 copies of Ficino’s translation of the complete works of Plato, printed in Florence in 1483, the paper cost between 120-160 florins, whereas all the printing costs came to only 90 florins.’

Her reference is to paper as used by draughtsmen and I would be interested to learn of references to paper and printing in that period.

Categories
Typographic ephemera

New Year’s Quiz 2013 – number one

Simple this. Just deduce what letters are missing from the image. (Taken from an advertisement placed by Grosvenor, Chater & Company Ltd in Book Design and Production, vol 5, number 3, 1962.)

new year quiz 2013

Answer below

new year quiz 2013