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.


calligraphy lettering

Something mysterious, something Gid

Sometimes an illustration hits you with such force that you just want to share it with others. Such is this, which I came across in Book Design and Production, vol 2, number 2, of 1959. The accompanying text relates that it comes from Livre D’Heures of 1959 and was designed by Raymond Gid using the Vendome type family. Of this type it is described as having a ‘resemblance to wood-cut or stone-chiselled lettering’. A same is shown below, though it does not seem to bear much resemblance to the text above – answers please.


Something colourful for the weekend

When I first began this blog (see here and how far I have departed from that opening statement) I had a notion that on Fridays I’d post something to amuse. That lasted not long, the last one being here. However, as a reminder of what I intended please enjoy this.

Unfortunately I only have an A4 scanner and the page size of this book, a children’s  English-French dictionary, published by Paul Hamlyn in 1965 (this the 4th impression of 1968) and printed in what was then called Czechoslovakia, is bigger. The pages are from the end pages and are unacknowledged.

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 They superseded Caslon’s letters and the French distortions and exaggerations of their design were imitated in England.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.}

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

Various French lettering – late 1980s

These images were taken during a trip to northern France, probably in the late 1980s. They illustrate well the flavour of that nation in typography – something unique.

History of Lettering lettering lettering, typography, alphabets, stonework

French typography

The French use of type has always interested me. As far as I am aware it is not a nation known for pre-eminence in stone cut lettering, though it has its good share of fine typographers and type designers. I came across this example from a Penrose album of 1954. It illustrates some typefaces from the Deberny and Peignot foundry, but I like this one because it shows a chalk drawn letter from which, I understand, a face known as Janco, was born. This is named after its designer, Marcel Jacno, mainly as a font for use in advertising.