16 January, 2011

Typefoundry 2006 to 2013: a list of contents

This is a list of all the posts to this blog with some notes saying what each piece is about. At the end there are a few words by the writer.
Each of the earlier headings (35 and before) links to its post. The first date after each heading is that of the original posting, which remains with it however often the text is edited. Where a second date is added in parentheses it is that of the latest revision of any consequence, if there has been one. Amendments ranging from substantial corrections to small improvements in style are made to all the posts from time to time.

Commercial at
7 October 2013
A historical note on the @ character. Do read the Postscript that follows.

This is a fragment
17 March 2013
The fragment is a piece of a slate gravestone from Nottinghamshire, which had become a paving stone, and was rescued. Its lettering is a reminder of the tradition represented by John Baskerville.

Caractères de l’Université
29 July 2012
A note on the name that was used for the types of Jannon at the Imprimerie nationale during the 19th century, suggesting that this was a mistake: caractère de l’université appears originally to have been a term in general use for the types by Garamont and others that were used by the Imprimerie royale during the 17th century and by other printers in Paris too.

Portrait of Bodoni?
10 June 2012
This portrait, which is of doubtful authenticity and lacks a provenance, was given to the St Bride Library by its purchasers. It was published here in the hope that information relating to its origin would be provided.

Types of Jean Jannon at the Imprimerie royale
3 February 2012
A summary of some recent work on the use of the Jannon types at the Imprimerie royale during the 17th century.

Type held in the hand

6 January 2012
A note on some features of cast type in the past.

Elzevir letter
7 November 2011
The term ‘Elzevir letter’ was a jargon term used by English booksellers of the 18th century, drawing on a vague awareness of earlier books from the Low Countries in excellent small and well printed types. The question of the identity of the makers of these types is discussed.

Talbot Baines Reed, typefounder and sailor
31 July 2011
Reed, a typefounder by trade and a distinguished historian, was a prolific writer. His fictitious stories of life in boys’ schools are well-known. This post includes a reminder that family holidays in the northern Irish counties generated writing of a high order that drew on his experience of sailing.

Garamond or Garamont?
1 April 2011
I took the opportunity of this post, which is nominally a discussion of the proper spelling of the name of the punchcutter, to discuss some other, unresolved, questions relating to the types made by Garamont and those that have been attributed to him. The makers of the comprehensive Garamont website promoted by the Ministry of Culture in France and launched in October 2011 have kindly accepted some of its suggestions.

Number Ten.
31 October 2010 (24 December 2010)
The style of the numerals painted on the door of 10 Downing Street has concerned me for some time: ever since Raymond Erith made his restoration of the building in fact. Since then the numerals that were poorly executed and historically badly informed and made against his wishes have been replaced by even worse ones which are often criticised. I originally thought that it would be nice if a more historically appropriate form could be used for them. Now it seems to me that, hidden away in their fortified environment as they are, and visible to the public only as a logo or in carefully managed images, the current numerals matter less than they did. But having been asked recently if I knew why they look the way they do, I thought I might as well post the piece I have been working on, which gives a summary of the results of my investigation so far as it goes.

The Proclamation of the Irish Republic: notes from Dublin.
17 September 2010
A sequel to 32.

Lettres à jour: public stencil lettering in France.
23 March 2010 (13 September 2010)
A nostalgic labour of love.

The Image of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic 1916.
6 January 2010 (10 August 2010)
A seemingly small puzzle – the anachronistic use of a well-known type that was made later than the document it appears in – led me into hitherto unknown territory that I found totally absorbing, and to connections that have been rewarding.

Eric Gill’s R: the Italian connection.
7 December 2009 (13 May 2010)
A republication of a piece written in 1990. It enabled me to add some details and make some corrections.

A lost Caslon type: Long Primer No 1.
21 July 2009
A piece about a type which was used in many works printed in the 18th century and is a great pleasure to read there, but which, since the original punches and matrices appear not to have been preserved, was never revived.

The Trieste leaf: a Bodoni forgery?
9 March 2009 (7 August 2010)
When I gave a talk on this item at the Biblioteca Cantonale (its owner) in Lugano in April 2010, the Corriere del Ticino called my story a giallo: that is, a thriller, since the conclusion must be that the leaf in question is indeed a 20th-century forgery of its supposed 18th-century original, and was presumably made for money in about 1946 – but just possibly with other, political, motives as well.

Recasting Caslon Old Face.
4 January 2009 (4 July 2010)
While the Caslon types were being vigorously promoted commercially during the later 19th century as genuine survivals of original types of the 18th century, the Caslon foundry was systematically remaking them in the form of smoother and more acceptable versions. Justin Howes began the story with notes on the recutting of the small sizes: this essay adds more documentation, with notes on the earlier remaking of the larger ones.

Tarte au citron.
22 August 2008
A salute to the calligraphy of a local much-appreciated pâtissier.

Cast brass matrices made for Pierre Didot.
26 July 2008
Follows 13 and 23.

Roman tragedy.
30 May 2008
A note on a beautiful and important inscription in the possession of the Museo Nazionale, Rome, which is currently neglected, has recently been damaged, and is virtually inaccessible, being kept in conditions that are doing it no good. This essay attempts to assess its value, which is that of a piece of stone-cut lettering of the first quality, showing a close derivation from calligraphic brush-drawn forms, the origin of which is a subject that needs more documenting.

Type bodies compared.
30 April 2008
There are many published tables of the ‘average’ sizes of the old bodies of types, like pica and brevier. This one shows, as exactly as possible, how big some of them were, giving measurements made in London, Paris, Antwerp, Frankfurt and elsewhere from original specimens of types.

Big brass matrices again: the Enschedé ‘Chalcographia’ type.
21 March 2008
Follows 13. Includes some useful illustrations.

Esszet or ß.
31 January 2008
This essay, which grew out of the one before (21), provoked some useful observations and corrections, which I hope now make it one of the more reliable accounts of the subject.

Long s.
25 January 2008 (15 February 2011)
A brief essay originally made for giving to students. There is some recent updating.

The Caslon tomb at St Luke’s, Old Street.
18 December 2007
Historical details of this tomb, which incidentally commemorates William Caslon I and other members of the family but was made by his daughter Mary principally for herself and her husband Thomas Hanbey, a rich ironmonger.

John Smith’s Printer’s Grammar, 1755.
2 October 2007
Smith’s book is an important text, independent of Moxon’s manual. A reprint was made in 1965. To make full use of Smith’s text, the reader may find it helpful to have the index and list of contents that I made for it. They can be downloaded here.

Casting Bodoni’s type.
27 August 2007
A brief note on the use of one of Bodoni’s own moulds for making some trial casts from the matrices of one of his types in the Museo Bodoniano, Parma. I found a mould that worked, with a Palestina body, and looked out some matrices to fit it. Stan Nelson provided the melter for the typemetal, gave some ladles that he made himself, and made the first casts. I used the mould and matrices for a demonstration of typefounding to a class, one of a series on the elements of the printed book that took place at the Biblioteca Palatina during the autumn of 2009.

An unrecorded inscription by Eric Gill?
25 July 2007
An image of a war memorial inside the parish church of Northleach, Gloucestershire. The style is unmistakeably that of Gill, but the tablet was not listed either by Gill’s brother Evan (The inscriptional work of Eric Gill: an inventory, 1964), or by David Peace in his revised edition.

Fallen and threaded types.
22 June 2007
There are instances in early printed books of type that has been drawn from the forme by the inking balls and, having fallen back on the page, has left an impression. Some show what look like circular holes in the side of the type that may have served for threading the lines and binding them together. There is other evidence that this was done, summarized here.

With twenty-five soldiers of lead he has conquered the world.
14 May 2007 (24 Jan 2011)
A note on the earliest known use of this phrase (1904), and some possible origins.

Drawing the typefounder’s mould.
9 April 2007
A study of the image published by Philip Gaskell in his New introduction to bibliography (1972), and its origins, shortcomings and some associated puzzles.

Big brass matrices: a mystery resolved?
19 March 2007
Brass is too hard to be used to make large matrices by striking with steel punches, but several surviving sets of early matrices for large types are made of brass. This post gives an account of one documented method of making them.

Scotch Roman.
16 February 2007
This name is loosely attached to several kinds of type. This is an attempt to give the origin of the type that appears with this name in the USA towards the end of the 19th century. It prints a corrected version of some notes that I prepared for the University Press, Cambridge, and which were included anonymously in an edition of Morison’s Tally of Types in 1973.

Richard Austin’s Address to Printers, 1819.
14 February 2007
This is an important document relating to the history of type in Britain. It was reprinted inaccurately in W. T. Berry and A. F. Johnson, Catalogue of specimens of printing types (London, 1935), so it seemed useful to make this reliable version available.

HMS Victory.
14 January 2007
The name of Victory, repainted on the occasion of her refurbishment to mark the bicentenary of the Battle of Trafalgar in 2005, is in a ‘Trajan’ letter that was a well-meant but ignorant anachronism. This piece looks at visual evidence for the original name and offers some more appropriate models.

The National Gallery’s new inscription: a very English blunder.
7 January 2007
A polemical piece, written in a tone of high moral fervour and indignation, suggesting that the decision in 2006 of the director of the National Gallery, Charles Saumarez Smith, to have the words THE NATIONAL GALLERY cut in large gilded letters on the portico of Wilkins’s building of the 1830s was wrong in principle for a number of reasons that are set out here. The chief of them is that by making an invasive and irreversable alteration to a building of some (even if not outstanding) distinction that had survived essentially intact, the director of the gallery showed a lack of care for the existing design and violated the principles of conservation.

The Nymph and the Grot, an update.
6 January 2007
‘The Nymph and the Grot: the revival of the sanserif letter’ was an essay first published in 1965 and later republished as a book to accompany an exhibition (called Primitive Types) at the Soane Museum, London, in 1999, which showed the part played by Soane in the revival of the letter. This post brings together notes and images relating to several things that could not be included in the book, which was printed long before materials for the exhibition were chosen.

English vernacular.
6 February 2006
This is my name for the traditional English (or British) letter, one that has been depreciated by historians and calligraphers who have been persuaded of the superior qualities of letters made with the broad pen. This note was written to mark the centenary of the publication of the handbook of Edward Johnston (1906), the champion of the broad pen. My original study under this title, published in 1963, needs the revision on which I have been working, on and off, ever since.

Baskerville tercentenary.
21 January 2006
The accepted date of birth of John Baskerville is based on the record of his baptism in January 1706, ‘old style’, which was a year that began in April 1706 and ran until the end of March in what is now the following year. The ‘new style’ for dates, adopted in Britain in 1752, made years run from January to December, as they still do. January 1706 ‘old style’ was thus what we now call January 1707, and Baskerville’s correct dates are 1707–1775. The post shows a hitherto unpublished specimen of one of Baskerville’s types.

Dabbing, abklatschen, clichage.
13 January 2006 (26 February 2011)
A brief note on the making of the cast duplicates of wood blocks in typemetal, a process that has been known by these names in English, German and French. It shows one means of recognising such casts from their look on the printed page. I put most of what I know about the history of the process into my introduction to the facsimile edition published in 1998 of a German manual, issued by Johann Michael Funcke, Kurtze, doch nützliche Anleitung von Form- und Stahl-Schneiden (Erfurt, 1740). An account by Wolfgang Schellman of some surviving examples, just published, adds many extra references.

Baskerville’s French Cannon roman. Cresci, Essemplare (1560).
7 January 2006
The first post shows an image of some of Baskerville’s original punches, made with the permission of the University Library, Cambridge, where they are now kept. Another piece posted at the same date shows a page from G. F. Cresci, Essemplare di più sorti lettere (Rome, 1560), and was intended to draw attention to my essay on Cresci and his influence on architectural lettering in Rome in Typography papers, 6.

Italian writing masters and calligraphers of the 16th and 17th centuries.
6 January 2006
A simple catalogue, giving the names of all the writers that have been recorded, with dates of their published writing books and authorities for their life and work.

The materials of typefounding.
6 January 2006
A list of the present locations for surviving punches, matrices and other ‘materials’ for making printing types. An updated version, with an introduction, was published as ‘The materials of typefounding’, in Printing history, new series, no. 4 (July 2008), pp. 3–37, the journal of the American Printing History Association.

Printing the Médailles de Louis le Grand.
6 January 2006
In 2002 I curated an exhibition at the Musée de l’Imprimerie, Lyon, to mark the tercentenary of the new type made for the Imprimerie royale, Paris, which was accompanied by an illustrated book with essays by various hands, Le Romain du roi: La typographie au service de l’état. As often happens, during the preparation of the exhibition material came to light that was too late for inclusion in the book, and also too extensive for it. This post reprints the accounts for the printing of the second edition, 1723, of the Médailles sur les principaux événements du règne de Louis le Grand, which provide much technical information that is relevant to the first edition of 1702. In the end it was possible to include it, with much other related matter, in an article on ‘the making of’ the book in the Bulletin du bibliophile, 2 (2008), pp. 296–350.

Author’s note

Like anyone who pursues a number of topics at once, I keep notes about some of them that especially interest me or concern me, and they form the basis of most of the posts made here. The notes may eventually lead to publication in one form or another or become part of a larger study, but that does not always happen. Sometimes I hesitate to publish more formally because a subject so clearly needs more work on it, and can benefit from additions or corrections from others. Several of the posts here are of this kind (13, 14, 16, 23, 32, 34).
Other pieces included here are texts that I did once publish and which I think may still be useful, but are now difficult to find in their original printed form, and in any case need some updating and correcting (15, 31). In a couple of instances the post makes some essential updates to existing printed texts (5, 8). Some pieces deal with topics that I think are important, but relating to which, for one reason or another, there still seems to be no reliable or adequate published survey and discussion (21, 22). A few of them are essentially catalogues and lists that I have made for my own use (2, 3, 19, 24), but which I think may be more widely helpful.
Another kind of post altogether consists of pieces that I have written when I have been moved to indignation by observing instances of folly or ignorance on the part of authorities who are responsible for the care of important artefacts and buildings (9, 10, 25, 35). I wish none of them had been needed.
Then there are some studies of printed documents or artefacts that are evidently not quite what they seem to be, like 28 and 29, regarding which there are puzzles that even now are not quite resolved. Posts 32 and 34, listed above as unfinished studies, come under this heading too. Lastly there are essays on personal enthusiasms or discoveries for which I should like to find other admirers (7, 12, 17, 27, 30, 33).
The blog as a medium has attractions as well as perils. Its chief value is as a means of publishing information, opinion and images in a form that is cheap, universally accessible and free from outside interference. It is also, of course, a means of self-promotion. The older texts that are embedded in this blog have become more difficult to find within it because of its very limited facility for listing archives, and I have not got the technical expertise needed to adapt the format I am using in order to make it easier. But I have inserted links: a click on a title in the list above should take you to the post itself.
One obvious peril is that the medium is so fragile that if the substructure collapses the texts will simply vanish. (I keep copies of them, but probably not as assiduously as I should.) I suppose that another disadvantage of this medium of publication is that some of the items, simply by accumulating so many additions, have now become far too long for easy reading on a screen. But I find it a comfort to know that most of them are now more complete, more reliable and better written and illustrated than they were when they were first posted.
Most of the images are my own. Where they are not I have generally done my best to secure the permission of the owners. There have been some difficulties and a few examples of rapacity on the part of institutional owners. But I have been moved by instances of generosity from people and from institutions too, and I should like to draw attention to the notes on copyright that I have placed against some images when owners have asked for them.
In the end everything published here is a personal statement, for which I take responsibility. I have disabled the facility for online comments, but there is a link that will find me and I have been pleased to receive responses from people to whom some items have been of interest or value, and also some corrections, for which I thank them.
It is a seductive medium. Infelicities of style, of which I find there are far too many in the early state of a post, can gradually be dealt with and errors removed as if they had never existed. I still have a lingering and sentimental regard for the printed page, but it was never so flexible and forgiving.

James Mosley