Blue Pencil no. 22 addendum—The Mystery of Monotype Melior

Since August 11 Jerry Kelly has sent me several emails with suggestions for additions to the list of Hermann Zapf’s typefaces I posted as Blue Pencil no. 22. He has especially been persistent about a Monotype version of Melior, though he has been unable to provide much information about it. Initially he simply said that Pat Taylor (1930–2012), owner of Out of Sorts Press & Letter Foundry & Press, offered the face in the 1980s. More recently, he has identified it as Monotype Series 125, possibly from Lanston and directed me to a catalogue issued by Ed Rayher of Swamp Press in 2010 that lists it. Pat Taylor is no longer alive and Rayher’s catalogue has no information about the face.

A Monotype version of Melior is a curiosity since Zapf’s faces were produced and sold by Linotype, Monotype’s longtime rival*. There is no mention of such a design in Tolbert Lanston and the Monotype: The Origin of Digital Typesetting by Richard L. Hopkins (Tampa Bay: University of Tampa Press, 2012). However, it does appear in Mac McGrew’s American Metal Typefaces of the Twentieth Century by Mac McGrew (New Castle, Delaware: Oak Knoll Press, 1993), p. 363 as part of the author’s  list of Lanston Monotype typefaces where it is Series 125 [Melior]. (Series 180 is identified as Melior Bold.) David M. MacMillan’s online list of Lanston types at circuitous root.com includes Series 180 but not Series 125. Neither McGrew’s list nor MacMillan’s contains any other Zapf designs among the Lanston series.

The mystery is how and when did Lanston Monotype come to issue a version of Melior? Kelly says, “I have no idea how Monotype came to cut the face, which is a Linotype font, and so late in Monotype’s era. Also odd that it has such a low series number.” Unfortunately, I cannot provide an answer either. What little I have been able to discover is that the design, identified simply as Lanston 125, existed as early as 1965 when it appeared in a survey of Monotype users’ preferred typefaces in the pages of Book Production Industry vol. 6, no. 41. I suspect that Lanston Monotype pirated Melior since they did not identify the source of Series 125. Kelly believes that Pat Taylor, in the 1980s, was the first to promote it as Melior.

Sebastian Carter tells me that an announcement of Monophoto Melior, Series 720 appeared in Monotype Newsletter 93 (November 1972). Did the Monotype Corporation get the design from Lanston or from Linotype? If the former, then Lanston presumably created Series 125 legally. There is more to be discovered about this unique Monotype Zapf typeface.

* In 2006 Monotype Imaging bought Linotype Library