Categories
History of Lettering typographers

Mr Frederic W Goudy’s ‘curves are perhaps too round and soft’

It’s always a joy to pick up a book, any book, and find a colophon describing the typeface used in the publication. This most recently happened to me when I bought a copy of Geoff Dyer’s novel Out of Sheer Rage (Canongate Books, 2012). The typeface selected for the edition is Goudy Old Style, Goudy lettering_0001designed, it is noted, by ‘Frederic W Goudy, an American type designer, in 1915. It is a graceful, slightly eccentric typeface, and is prized by book designers for its elegance and readability’.

OK. Slightly eccentric took me to my bookshelves to see what others have written about Mr Goudy. What does Updike have to say? He writes of Kennerley, Goudy lettering another of the designer’s faces commissioned in 1911 by Mitchell Kennerly: ‘[it] is a freely designed letter which has been much praised in many quarters. Its capitals are excellent but the lower case roman, except perhaps in 10-point, seems to “roll” a little; and, as was said of another of Mr Goudy’s types, “when composed in a body, the curves of the letters – individually graceful – set up a circular, whirling sensation that detracts somewhat from legibility. That is to say, the curves are perhaps too round and soft, and lack a certain snap and acidity”.’ (Printing Types, vol II. 2nd ed, 2nd printing, 1937.)

My Oh My. They were savage critics back in the twentieth century.

What has Carter to add? ‘Goudy died in 1947,’ he concludes, ‘heaped with honours…His faces are not widely used for the setting of books: they do not fulfil the customary demands of reticence for such purposes. But for displayed work and advertising design they have always been deservedly popular’. (Twentieth century Type Designers, 1987.) Carter also notes how Goudy made a new fount, that is cutting the matrices by hand and giving them to Updike the same day – Updike having called for lunch (this was 1933) and complaining he couldn’t find the right size or style for a title page he was then designing. Now that’s what I call a good lunch.

Another writer, BH Newdigate, says of Goudy’s Kennerley face (this written in 1920): ‘…[it] is perhaps the most attractive letter which has been placed within the reach of British and AMerican printers in modern times.’  Times change.

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
Brand design

You (still) have mail (just)

But for how long? In Australia we continue to have mail delivered (at least where I live) by posties riding a classic Honda CT110, though this institution is threatened by replacement by something greener – the Super Cub. Australia Post bike

Nevertheless, the logo will remain designed by Dutchman, Pieter Huveneers. Australia Post mail box

And how long a postal service? Probably longer than anyone imagines as we still need those items ordered over the internet to be physically delivered to the door.

Unless Google fills the sky with its drones…

Note – in the photo of the mailbox when enlarged you will see the postie accelerating away in the distance.

For earlier post on Australian stamps see here

Categories
Brand design lettering typography

Such poor typography, such poor design

This is truly appalling. The company behind this atrocity is The Coffee Club. How many indiscretions can you make out? It starts with the miserable lower case w, is exacerbated by the clumsy joining of the h and the m (this is most definitely the work of someone not trained in typography), and crowned by the (deliberate?) religious cross of the lc t. I will not even go there with the question mark, of which it must go down as probably the weakest example since moveable type was set rolling. Let me lay myself down in a darkened room….(Can a reader advise as to the name of this monstrosity of a font.)

coffee club signage

 

PS – there are many other issues with this signage. Feel free to add your comments. It might make a good assignment for a first year graphic design course: “In no more than 1000 words indicate the faults in this piece of typography and indicate how you would improve it”.

Categories
lettering

All About Lettering turns 4

Thank you to all subscribers/followers over these 4 years. I will post some of my personal favourite posts in the next few days. Keep watching…[image – using discovered Rowney lion printing water colour tube, left second finger, drawn on concrete floor – actual size 170mm by 110mm. (PS – actual drawing for sale including house. Plus plenty of  books etc on lettering and calligraphic arts. Apply.)

Turning 4
Turning 4
Categories
Newspapers

The Gazette – part three

Part Three [if you missed part one click here and for part two here]

DDG IntertypeHistory of the Don Dorrigo Gazette taken from the centenary issue (Wednesday, January 20, 2010): DDG wood furniture

‘Founders of the Gazette Herb and Reg Vincent arrived in Dorrigo in 1909 and were thrilled at the country and surrounding district. They settled in the community…on January 8, 1910…the first copies of the Don Dorrigo Gazette were pulled off the old Columbian, a second-hand Double Royal “thoroughly overhauled and guaranteed in good order and condition” by FT Wimble and Co Ltd, Sydney…There have been several owners of the Gazette, starting with the Vincent Brothers sold to George Holland in 1938, Bill Beckhouse in the 1950s and John English in the late 1970s.’

DDG galley‘The original Columbian printing press was replaced by a Wharfedale hand-fed machine…This was replaced by a modern Heidelberg cylinder press still in use today…A new typesetting machine, the Intertype, was installed at a cost of £3,288 in 1953.’

‘The Wharfedale…was believed to be 114 years old before being replaced by the Heidelberg cylinder press in 1970.’

From the Don Dorrigo Gazette of Thursday, October 17, 1957:

‘The Dorrigo Gazette has installed a modern Autovic automatic printing press…[it] takes the place of a hand-fed platen which the Gazette has donated to the Dorrigo District School.’ [My note: Where is it now?]

Former editors: Reg Vincent; George Holland; Charlie Chappel; Jack Devine; ‘Flip’ Pomroy; Sel Rawson; Jim Ellis; Alan Smith; John English and [current] Michael English.

‘When John English started his apprenticeship in 1961 Alan Smith was foreman; later he took over as editor and when Alan left for a change working with the Bellingen Shire Council, John took over as editor…’

DDG front page

 

Categories
lettering Thoughts on lettering

‘Has any writer, who is not a typewriter, succeeded in being wholly impersonal?’

Written by Virginia Woolf in the essay Craftsmanship (1937).  She is writing of how words convey so many fleeting images that it is difficult to disassociate from the living author. She continues: ‘Only after the writer is dead do his words to some extent become disinfected, purified of the accidents of the living body’. It is a fine essay and much deserving to be read entire. My copy comes from The Death of the Moth and Other Essays (Penguin, 1961), though the original edition was published in 1942 (Hogarth Press).

As much as I admire Woolf as a writer it is her reference to the typewriter that got me thinking. 14_08_25_Typewriter_0001Got me thinking just as I chanced across a book in a charity shop on Shorthand and Typewriting (International Correspondence Schools, London, n.d) from which the accompanying illustrations are taken. It, too, is a good read (in parts). For instance there is vital information on Establishing a Copying Office: ‘Many typists find it profitable to conduct a copying office. Even in the smallest towns there is a great deal of typewriting work to be obtained from lawyers, clerks of courts, architects, contractors, merchants, doctors, authors, ministers, politicians, and others, whose patronage may be secured by soliciting their orders through the medium of a perfectly typed letter and price list. It is often possible to make arrangements with the owner of an office whereby the typist can have a desk in the office in exchange for certain services as a shorthand-typist. In this way a connection may be worked up without much expense.’ Sound advice.

14_08_25_TypewriterAnd in the business section this: ‘A married woman usually takes her husband’s Christian name, as Mrs William Dawson, unless the husband is the eldest son of the family, in which case she takes precedence and is addressed as Mrs Dawson’.

Got me thinking too about the history of the typewriter, an instrument that has played such an important role in the development of the industrial world. Among all my books I found scant mention. There must be a History somewhere, but I don’t have it and I am not so lazy as to do a web search. I much prefer to stumble across books in the bookstore, secondhand bookseller or, as with Shorthand and Typewriting, the charity shop. (See here for my post on the demise of the secondhand bookshop.)

However, not surprisingly Typewriter Art (I have mentioned this before and you can go to the post here) did gloss on the antecedents. ‘An American,’ it states, ‘Christoper Lathan Sholes, is widely held to be the inventor of the first practical typewriter. His machine, perfected in the early 1870s, was bought by E Remington & Sons, gunsmiths of Ilion, New York, and put on the market in 1874.’ It goes on to note that the introduction of the typewriter ‘… has transformed business and created the largest female workforce in history, the monstrous regiment of typewriters.’ Monotype TypewriterAnd while that ‘monstrous regiment’ may have passed into history what are computers but the modern equivalent, the keyboard the same, the drudgery not so different for many.

In the world of typography Monotype didn’t miss a trick and produced matrices in both the conventional and the IBM format as shown here.

Monotype Typewriter_0001

Categories
Brand design

Archaeology of the tea bag – a study in waste

Many years ago now I was an archaeologist. I studied academically and went into the field though I never practised the art. However, I maintain a fascination in the process of discovery through the peeling back of layers, and by the peeling back the discovery of knowledge.

This too can be done with something at first sight as mundane as the tea bag, or, more strictly, the container in which the tea bag is enclosed. liptons AThere is also something here to be said about the lure of packaging. Why, for instance, do I choose this brand over others on the supermarket shelf? Does the typography draw me in? Consider that nice interplay of calligraphy in the tail of the y in Quality embracing the word tea. Ah, I can smell the blackness of it already. Maybe too the way Lipton is nicely announced within a border. It speaks of prestige – a badge fit to be forged in brass and screwed permanently to a wooden chest that once might have taken the tea from its origin in India to the land of plenty and of hope and of demos – England.

But no. It is the colour. That yellow and red captivate the eye. That is why I buy Lipton (also it is one of the cheapest, yet not THE cheapest). Lipton exudes quality. And note, in the top right corner a logo certifying this tea as Rainforest Alliance. liptons BNow what exactly does that mean? Being green in colour this logo must be good. It says this tea has passed certain tests and measures set up by this or that group. I feel good about that too. Why, I have cheap tea (but not THE cheapest) and it is Rainforest Alliance certified. Great.

Wait a moment. As I dig into the packet I find myself confronted by a redundancy of packaging. As an archaeologist I am used to having to peel away layers in search of the evidence I seek. In this case I seek tea. I do not seek cellophane. I do not seek foil. I do not seek more thin card. Liptons C1At each obstacle I rebel. Lipton promotes, as it may, Rainforest Certified tea. Why not also Packaging free Alliance tea?

If like me you are disgusted at the amount of wasteful packaging then please let us begin a campaign. Less packaging, more tress, less landfill, a greener world. Our grandparents managed buying tea loose and in a paper container. Why not us?

liptons D

 

Categories
Brand design Typographic ephemera

An aside on the aluminium Coca-Cola container

In itself this object is iconic. It stands 18cm tall, is as tactile as polished stone and sprayed in gorgeous (and brand) red. The distinctive legend sweeps around the middle. As a sculptural item it is magnificent, and it only cost $2 from my local supermarket here in Australia.CocaCola Aluminium Bottle_0004

However, I lament the waste. Were I to live in South Australia I could expect a 10c refund at recycling points. However, that is  the only State in this country with such a scheme. True, my local council provides recycling bins and I could recycle this empty aluminium container – expect it is too beautiful to discard.

CocaCola Aluminium Bottle_0005I find myself in a dilemma. On the one hand, I admire the thing with a designer’s passion; on the other I curse the waste of a finite raw material: the sheer labour that went into crafting this $2 throwaway; the energy that went into production and getting it from factory to market. And all for what? The contents are hardly sufficient to quench a sparrow’s thirst let alone an adult’s. What then is it for?

It seems yet another example of our contempt for our world: a side-swipe at the less fortunate, a snub at the weak and the poor by a global conglomerate that soaks up resources with negligent ease.

Yet…it sits on my desk as if a tribute. A tribute to what? To the splendour of the imagination. I temper my indignation with the view that at least this container will be preserved and not lost among the millions of others that either fail to be recycled or are, themselves, placed on the shelves and mantelpieces of morally tortured aesthetes.

CocaCola Aluminium Bottle