lettering Monotype Composition caster printing

Something ornamental for the weekend

From December 1958, a Monotype broadsheet (440mm x 570mm). Composed on a caster no doubt. (For more on ornamental type see this post.) For more Monotype posters see here.

Ornamental type face

History of Lettering

New Year’s Quiz – final (and a little late)

Who is this?

RK photo

Answer below

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Incidentally, the main image of Koch, taken from Book Design and production (1959), gives the date of the photograph as c1938. This is clearly incorrect as Koch died in 1934. Perhaps 1928 was meant?

lettering typography

Minimalism in Title Page Design

An example from a 1955 Penguin. First the Title Page in Bembo – would any designer have the courage to do so much with so little today? Followed by a beautiful contents page and then the Cover – using type to tell/sell the story.

Robert Graves Myths_0001

Robert Graves Myths_0002

Robert Graves Myths



History of Lettering

John Peters, some further thoughts, especially on Fleet Titling

Back here I wrote about John Peters. Today I write about his design of a Monotype face called Fleet Titling, loosely based on Ehrhardt capitals. The company found it useful back in the late 1960s for its signage.


eric gill

John Skelton and Eric Gill revisited


Previous posts have commented on the similarity in appearance between nephew and uncle. (see here and here.) By chance I found these newspaper clippings in a magazine, dated October and November 1958. I shall have more to write about Gill very soon, in particular the exhibition referred to in these clippings.




A Graceful image

One of the great things about the Monotype Corporation was the advertising they produced. Take this example to promote Century Schoolbook – some creative genius at the company decided to use an image of WG Grace, with this resulting tri-fold sheet tipped into a volume of Penrose. (Regular readers of this blog will know by now how much I love those volumes.) Century Schoolbook, as stated by Monotype in accompanying literature, originated in 1894, being commissioned by Theodore L de Vinne for the Century Magazine. ‘The letterforms reflect the taste for the modern face of the late 19th century, but the design is nearer to the old styles in having sturdier serifs and no fine hair lines…The large x-height, coupled with short but adequate descenders, makes it very legible in the smaller sizes, and in the larger sizes it takes on a clean, handsome appearance, uncluttered in extraneous detail.’

For the record WG Grace (1848-1915) scored 126 individual centuries in first class cricket. He retired from competition in 1908, aged 60.

Typographic ephemera typography

Something novel for the weekend

Found in the October 1967 of the Monotype Newsletter 82, with no commentary. Does it really need any?


History of Lettering lettering typography

Cobden-Sanderson, Hammersmith Bridge and Jenson

Cobden-Sanderson’s place in printing folklore is secure. The barrister turned fine printer and founder of the Doves Press (in 1896, along with Emery Walker) had what might be described as a ‘breakdown’ in or about 1916 when he systematically chucked the whole of the press’s type into the River Thames from Hammersmith Bridge.

The type was named Doves Roman and was based on Jenson’s original, both shown here. Why did C-B do this? One theory is that when the partnership with Walker was dissolved (1909) it was agreed that C-B could continue using the Doves Roman during his life, after which it would pass to Walker. C-B decided to abort this agreement. He wrote: ‘To the bed of the River Thames, the River on whose banks I have printed all my printed books, I, the Doves Press, bequeath The Doves Press Fount of Type, – the punches, matrices and the type…And may the River, in its tides and flows, pass over them to and from the great sea for ever and ever, or until its tides and flow for ever cease…untouched of other use’. What a waste.

According to reports, during this exercise (which took several nights of hard labour) he almost struck a boatman on the head with the bags of type.

Regarding the Jenson original (c1470), William Morris sourced it for his Golden Type, although referencing a darker fount; whereas C-B was more faithful to the original. Later Bruce Rogers would go a step better with his Centaur.

Sources:  A Tally of Types, Morison, 1973; Encyclopaedia of Type Faces, Berry and Johnson, 1953; Roman Types, Brown University Library, 1960; and Great Books and Book Collectors, Thomas, 1975.

Brand design printing

When Linotype ruled the world

They were like Apple and Microsoft, two giants of the printing industry slugging it out. I refer, of course, to Monotype and Linotype. How the mighty are fallen. These illustrations are from 1957 when Linotype really did rule the world – offices and manufacturing in all parts, some expected, some least expected. Take note both Apple and Microsoft – you may rule now but in half a century, who knows.

Monotype Composition caster Thoughts on lettering

The mighty, the magnificent, the marvellous one and only Monotype Composition Caster

Possibly my longest blog title ever. Richly deserved. I can’t believe it is over a year since I last posted on the Monotype (see here and here) and all that time I have been meaning to write more. Well, the other day I had a post from a reader in South Australia who had stumbled on this potpourri and said he was restoring such a machine. (Thanks Ron for your kind words.) Here is a photo of my mighty Monotype taken in the UK in the late 1990s.