Categories
lettering, typography, alphabets, stonework

Bookplates: ‘An opportunity for Pen(sic)men’

With the rapid increase in ebooks, whither the bookplate? Twenty years ago, maybe less, it was still possible to stick in a favourite book a ‘plate’, or a remembrance, of purchase. This might be nothing more than one’s name written with a 2B pencil, or an actual ‘sticker’. This helped when books were borrowed or lent – a sort of simple tracking system Going back  in time owners of great (and sometimes not so great) libraries had a plate printed – much in the manner of that shown below. The bookplate was an enduring legacy of ownership. And what of the penman? Will Carter was one (as was Reynolds Stone). Will was, however, critical of the fine penmanship that was able to inscribe with a quill pen on vellum. ‘…we are in fact neglecting a wonderful opportunity of enlivening our printed matter with a letter form which is  the natural development of the incised roman capital…’ he wrote in an article published in the 1954 edition of The Penrose Annual. He concludes: ‘The penman of today has lagged behind the times, steeped in too much medieval clutter…Calligraphy must not be allowed to decline…let us get busy and sharpen it alright so that it can serve us well, for it is a good tool’. Going back to the bookplate, it makes me ask: ‘Why not have bookplates in ebooks?’

Illustration from Lettering of Today, 1937 and Rampant Lions Press.

Categories
lettering, typography, alphabets, stonework

Will Carter: typographer, designer and letter carver

He was all of the above, and letterpress printer and wood engraver as well. Will Carter (1921-2001) was part of that great flowering of artist-craftsmen in the UK post-WW2. He designed Monotype Klang and collaborated with another 20th century master of the chisel, David Kindersley, in Octavian.

These illustrations are from Carter’s Caps (1982). He writes: ‘The wood used is what is sold in DIY stores for shelving and consists of mahogany veneer on a chip board base.’  Of the R he writes: ‘A more obvious nod towards Trajan, with its strong tail coming out of the bowl. The placing of this, like the proportion of the bowl itself, can make or mar the letter, which, at its best, can be most satisfying of all…’ Of the B: ‘Gill used to liken the lower bowl of a young gill’s buttock – the way it hangs gently’. [Enough said.]