printing Thoughts on lettering

Definition of printing…(and a note on Joanna)…


…’the art of making dents in paper or other impressible paper.’

So wrote Eric Gill in ‘A Glossary of Terms Relating to Printing’, 1934 – set in Joanna and part of A Specimen of Three Book Types.

For some more terms enlarge this page.

Regarding Joanna. Designed 1930 and cut by HW Caslon. Used by Hague and Gill at their press until the Aldine Press, Letchworth, UK, obtained the right to use it, because Gill needed the money. It was used in the Aldine Bible between 1934-1936. In 1939 the face was made available to Monotype, series 478. The face was named after Gill’s youngest daughter who had married Rene Hague, partner in Hague and Gill printers, based in a barn at Pigotts, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. [From The Monotype Recorder, 41, 3, 1958; Book Design and Production, 1,3, 1958.)

Illustration showing Gill’s drawing for Joanna italic (1930 and 1931).



Mr William Caslon is digitised

“Caslon,” says Colin Banks, in this 1998 article published in u&lc, “does have a sort of enduring English charm, and we think of it here as our very own.”

Interesting then that it was much used in the US in the 18th century and was the typeface of choice for the Declaration of Independence.

The u&lc piece featured a re-cutting of the type by Justin Howes.

(If anyone recognises the face of the individual on the front and rear cover I’d appreciate a mail.)

[For blog on the merit of Baskerville versus Caslon click here.]

History of Lettering

‘…the soft curves of Caslon…the sterner qualities of Baskerville…’

So wrote Paul Johnston in his Biblio-Typographica (1930), a copy of which I picked up last week from my favourite secondhand bookshop.

He goes on: “The punches of the latter [Baskerville] went to France where they were accepted with more respect…Baskerville’s type also became the basis of a new form of letter design called Modern, which was bought to its best development by Didot and Bodini. And where the Baskerville type had been frowned upon in England, its derivatives were received with enthusiasm a few years later. They superseded Caslon’s letters and the French distortions and exaggerations of their design were imitated in England. Thus Baskerville’s type, by a roundabout way, and quite without their maker’s intention, brought English printing to the lowest state it had ever known; the period of heavy-weight modern types” (p.185).

Quite a paragraph. And for what it counts I have always detested the Caslon upper case A with its pretentious top. [Illustrations from my copy of an undated Monotype catalogue.}

Elements of Lettering History of Lettering

Squared capitals and Caslon

I posted the other day about the book Lettering for Advertising by Mortimer Leach [if you missed it please click here].

This book was written at a time when advertising drawings, in particular the lettering element, were hand-drawn. A time before Letraset.

In the early chapters Leach gives some examples of popular type faces that can be adapted to hand-drawing. I have noted his use of Futura. Now let us turn to Caslon.

In prefacing this he refers to Squared Capitals, as used by the Romans – Trajan Column et al.

This is his drawing of them, and they would be suitable for use in stonecarving as is.