Type Blog

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Monday, March 12, 2007

some great posts lately at Daily Type

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

you can download some of the articles i have referenced in one easy-to-read PDF file (some of the captions from the original articles are still there although images are not).


Friday, March 2, 2007

Kelmscott Press, Doves Press, Updike and Centaur

pg. 224
William Morris & the Kelmscott Press
William Morris was a printer, artist, designer, writer and editor. In 1891 he set up the Kelmscott Press in Hammersmith, London. His adviser and associate in the press was Emery Walker, an English engraver and printer who was one of the most versatile designers, and one of the best typographic scholars, ever to work in England. Edward Prince, a punchcutter chosen by Walker, cut the three types – Golden, Chaucer and Troy – that Morris designed.

Morris preached a doctrine of interdependent factors in bookmaking: type, paper, ink, imposition and impression must be considered together. He regarded two facing pages as the unit. His edition of Chaucer, illustrated by his Oxford friend, Edward Burne-Jones, is one of his most highly prized books. Along with his contemporaries, T.J. Cobden-Sanderson with the Doves Press and Charles Ricketts with the Vale Press, Morris called attention to the inherent qualities of all typography and to the basic nature of letterpress printing in particular. He demonstrated that a typographer does not need endless sizes of type, but he needs consistency. It is not the amount of ornament that enhances and gives variety to a page of type, it is the harmony between the two. Above all, he taught those who were interseted to learn the value of reexamining the past and to profit by it.

William Morris, Troy type.

pg. 227
the Doves Press
In 1900, T.J. Cobden-Sanderson and William Morris' former associate, Emery Walker, established the Doves Press, only a few steps from the old Kelmscott premises (Morris died in 1896). All of these presses had special type designed for them, and in each case the punches were cut by Edward Prince of London, who had also cut the Kelmscott faces.

The Doves Press type differs markedly from the others. Like Morris' Golden Type, it draws its inspiration chiefly from the roman of Nicolas Jenson, but the Doves Roman posseses, like its model, a deep simplicity which Morris' type does not. It is a modern type, in the same sense that the paintings of Paul Cézanne (who died in 1906) are modern paintings. Morris, like his friend D.G. Rossetti, remained to the end of his life something other than a modern. He remained what art historians call a Pre-Raphaelite.

(Here it is necessary to explain that, in older books about typography, the term "modern" is often used in another sense. It is used to mean "Romantic" – i.e., type such as Bodoni's and Firmin Didot's. This outdated terminology is based on a somewhat simplistic division of type into "old style" – meaning Renaissance or Baroque – and "modern" – meaning Romantic. In the nineteenth century, when Romantic type was new, such terminology made a kind of sense. It makes much more sense now to speak about typography in the same terms used for all the other arts.)

Emery Walker & T.B. Cobden-Sanderson. Doves Roman.

the U.S.: Daniel Berkeley Updike & Bruce Rogers

The Merrymount Press was established in Boston in 1893 by Daniel Berkeley Updike, one of America's most distinguished and able printers. His two great achievements were the operation of his press as a commercial establishment with impeccable standards, and his book entitled Printing Types: Their History, Forms and Use.

The most important American typographer for the early twentieth century was undoubtedly Bruce Rogers, who for a time was an associate of Updike's. In 1896 he became director of the Riverside Press in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a subsidiary of the publishing firm of Houghton, Mifflin. Later, he became the very prototype of the modern freelance typographer. (In doing so, however, he was actually reenacting a Renaissance form. Francesco Griffo and Robert Granjon had worked on the same pattern.)

In his three-score years of book designing, Rogers worked for many publishers, including the university presses of Cambridge and Oxford. In 1935 he designed his Oxford Lectern Bible. Rogers was also associated for a number of years with the admirable Printing House of William Rudge, at Mt Vernon, New York , and in England he worked with Emery Walker. He designed two typefaces, Montaigne (1901), and Centaur (1914). The latter is his masterpiece. It is based, like the Doves Roman, on the work of Nicolas Jenson, and like the Doves Roman, it transforms its fifteenth-century model into a new and modern type.

Rogers. Centaur type, 1915.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

De Divinia Proportione & The School of Paris

A Short History of the Printed Word. Bringhurst & Chappell.

pg. 106
The Iconography of Letterforms
Fifteenth-century Italian printers – Fra Angelico, Filippo and Filippino Lippi, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Mantegna and others – took a passionate interest in letterforms. The masters of the sixteenth century – Michelangelo and Titian above all – were far more interested in movement and contortion. They focused on the writhing, shifting mass and stormy surface – and on the nimble feat of reading, not on the restful and legible form that is eternally waiting to be read. The letterforms taught by sixteenth-century calligraphers – Arrighi, Tagliente, Palatino – are imbued with the same excess of energy. They cannot quite be still.

Not only artists but art critics in those years were interested in letterforms, and most of them were looking for the geometric grail: a Platonic and eternal explication of the forms of roman letters. Luca Pacioli's book De Divinia proportione (Venice, 1500), Albrecht Dürer's Underweysung der Messung (Nürnberg, 1525) and Geofroy Tory's Champfleury (Paris, 1529) are three such attempts to rationalize the proportions of letters and divine their master patterns. But there are no such simple recipes. The perfect letter never lives alone. It is a live, organic trace that only glances off geometry. In the inscriptions that are painted on the Sistine Chapel ceiling, and elsewhere in the works of Michelangelo and Titian – and in the work of Dürer himself – we see a masterful admission that all the theories failed.

It is likely, but not certain, that Arrighi died in Rome in 1527. The last typeface he produced came into the hands of Antonio Blado, who became the papal printer in 1545 and retained that post until 1567. Thus Arrighi's influence survived him directly for forty years. Blado produced work of great distinction and made a notable contribution in using single and compound typographic arabesques and florets (pieces of typemetal bearing floral designs). In 1556 he published Il Perfetto scrittore, by Giovanni Francesco Cresci, one of the classic books on letterforms.

pg. 109
Simone de Colines and the School of Paris
After her meager contribution to the first half-century of printing, France became for some time home to the best typographers in Europe. Simon de Colines, Robert Estienne, Claude Garamond, Robert Granjon and Jean de Tournes are among the major figures of the sixteent hcentury so far as the shaping of books is concerned – and in many respects Colines is the central of them all. He was born about 1480, possibly in Champagne.

Between 1520 and his own death in 1546, Colines created and repeatedly revised a large array of types with which he printed books of many kinds. In his hands, distinctively French, indeed distinctively Parisian, whiteletter type and typography evolved.

Robert Estienne. Chapter opening. Text by Guillaume Budé; type by Simon de Colines; initial by Geofroy Tory. Paris, 1535.

The Aldine book was printed in one font (occasionally two) – and with handmade type, a single font means type of a single size. Where emphasis was needed – principally for titles – spaced capitals of text were used. Colines created pages every bit as graceful as the finest Aldine page, but with more variation in texture. He cut matched sets of roman, italic and small capitals, and cut his basic Greek and Latin text fonts as a perfectly balanced pair. Over time, he also cut his romans and italics in graduated sizes and learned to mix them on the page. This increasingly complex High Renaissance typography came hand in hand with complicated texts.

Geofroy Tory. Horae. Paris, 1525.

Geofroy Tory wrote Champfleury – a meditation on letter structure, proportion and mystical significance. Like his contemporary Paracelsus, Tory was interested in alchemy – but in his case, it was the alphabetical alchemy practiced by printers and publishers, who attempted in their own way to turn lead into gold and language into immortality.

Garamond's type, used by the Heirs of Andreas Wechel. Frankfurt, 1586.

Another important Parisian figure of the period is Claude Garamond, or Garamont, who was born about 1500 and died in 1561. He apprenticed with the printer Antonie Augereau, a friend and colleague of Colines, and in later life established a small foundry close to the Sorbonne. Like colines, he cut distinguished roman and italic types in several sizes. His italics are among hte first to feature sloped roman capitals In the 1540s, on commission from François I of France and with Robert Estienne acting as adviser, Garamond cut the grecs du roi, a set of three cursive Greek types based on the hand of Angelos Vergikios, the king's Greek scribe.

An Atlas of Typeforms: Jenson Type

from An atlas of typeforms by James Sutton and Alan Bartram.

Nonius: Peripatetica. Nicholas Jenson, Venice, 1478.

pg. 21 Venetian
"Jenson's letters are finely cut, with a gradual change from thick to thin strokes. The serifs are strong and steeply sloped, those on the capitals have almost no brackets, while those in the lower case are almost only brackets. The M has serifs on the inside and the e has a small eye with an oblique bar. These details are common to the Venetian family of typefaces. But even Jenson returned to gothic typography, though the two styles seem to us totally different in appearance and association: one, the dark, constructed, highly formalized expression of the Middle Ages: the other, an open, freely drawn product of the Renaissance."

pg. 24 Modern 'Venetians'
"Eusebius (1924, E.F. Detterer) is an adaptation of Jenson's roman letter of 1470, and has an italic influenced by sixteenth century chancery italic calligraphy. Centaur was adapted by Bruce Rogers in 1929 from his private press type of 1915, and is derived from teh same Jenson original. It is much lighter in weight than true Venetians, thought it exhibits all their other characteristics. The italic, originally known as Arrighi, was based on Ludovico [Vicentino] degli Arrighi's chancery faced of 1524 (Frederick Warde 1929). Stephenson Blake Verona originated in the la Clede Foundry, USA, where it was known as la Clede Old Style, and was brought from them on the advice of R. B. Fishendon."

Eusebius, Centaur and Stephenson Blake Verona

pg. 26 Old Face Italian
"In 1495 the great Renaissance publisher Aldus Manutius brought out a book with a new design of capitals. Though roughly cut, they blended a good deal better with the lower case than the obtrusive capitals of Jenson's roman. Later the same year Aldus published Bembo's De Aetna using the same capitals but with a new lower case cut by his great punch-cutter Francesco Griffo of Bologna. This man's skill was strikingly demonstrated in the smaller size roman used for the De Epidemia of 1497. The type of De Aetna was used again in a reconsidered version in 1499 for the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili with a new alphabet of capitals.

By comparing the examples from these books on the next pages one can see a new type-design evolving which is quite distinct from Jensons', though a development from it, as one can see from comparing Jenson's books with Aldus'. The Aldine roman is the archetype of all Old Face types which during the 16th century established their ascendancy over gothic throughout Europe. The quality of Aldine roman was due to the imagination and judgement of Francesco Griffo. Its important features are a calligraphic stress, the thick strokes and the serifs being at an oblique angle as in a pen script; generous letter-width, though not as wide as Jenson's, with open counters; the capitals slightly shorter than the fairly long ascenders and descenders. The serifs are bracketed and the type shows less wear at the end of a run (Griffo may have had a harder type metal than Jenson); the crossbar of the e is rather high and horizontal. The counter of the e is therefore small, as is the bowl of the a. The letters fit closely and evenly together and are slightly condensed, without seeming at all pinched or mean. Typefaces of this kind make up well int comfortably legible pages of solid text."

De Aetna (1495), De Epidemia (1497), and Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (1499). Aldus Manutius.

pg. 34
"Poliphilus was brought out before Bembo, in 1923, and is from Aldus' roman of 1499. A facsimile revival, and quite a technical achievement, it retains all the original irregularities. Unfortunately it was not copied from the best possible pages of the original, but from one which showed the type heavier and worn; but it possesses nonetheless a very useful character for some classes of work. The italic is based on letters used by Antonio blado, 1515-67, printer to the Holy See, and designed by Arrighi in 1526.

Monotype 170 Poliphilus and 119 Blado Italic