Blue Pencil

Blue Pencil is a “slog”: a slow blog. It does not get updated daily or even on a regular schedule. Instead, it gets updated when there is something of value to be posted. Postings often take a long time to prepare and appear at intervals of a few weeks or even months. Sometimes there is a flurry of postings within the span of a few days. Blue Pencil may be unpredictable in its frequency, but not in its purpose. Blue Pencil is fiercely dedicated to the 3Rs: research, reading and writing.

Michael Harvey’s Teaching Notebooks 1983–1995, part 3

Michael made a teaching trip to Canada in 1988, visiting calligraphy groups in Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa: the Toronto Calligraphy Guild, La Société des Calligraphes de Montréal and the Calligraphy Society of Ottawa. He taught several different workshops instead of repeating one as he had on his 1984 West Coast trip.
TORONTO 1988  : The Art of Drawing Letters and Lettering for Publicity

Item 3—“Demonstration of freehand drawing technique”—is illustrated on the right-hand page where Michael is building up a letter …
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Michael Harvey’s Teaching Notebooks 1983–1995, part 2

ATLANTA 1986


There are no clues in the notebook pages that Michael gave me as to what this workshop was about, but it may have been another one devoted to Creative Lettering.
EXETER 1986 : Lettercutting
If my memory is correct, this workshop was part of a conference organized by lettering artist David Harris at Exeter College of Art & Design.

“Writing makes forms directly, the broad pen defining the edges as it moves
“Incising works towards the edges from the centre …
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Michael Harvey’s Teaching Notebooks 1983–1995, part 1

The last time that I talked to Michael Harvey was via a series of email exchanges in the fall of 2012 in connection with his autobiography, Adventures with Letters: A Memoir*. Earlier in the year I had orchestrated a preview of A Life with Letters, its original title, in Codex 2 and for Imprint; and in September I had reviewed  the book upon its publication for Eye magazine (no. 84). Michael’s response to the review was succinct but …
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Blue Pencil no. 33—The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design: D entries

D [1910–1919]
D001
Oxo | unknown | packaging graphics | Oxo | 1910
[Helena Michaelson]
images: 5
text: 4
apparatus: 4
Is the front image of an Oxo tin small because it is reproduced at real size? The caption does not say. There are also no dates for two of the three images on the back of the card. Image no. 3 is 1957 or later, based on Michaelson’s text which says that foil wrapped cubes of Oxo did not appear until that year.
Michaelson describes the lettering of Oxo as “slightly …
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Blue Pencil no. 32—The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design: C entries

C [1900–1909]
C001
Combinaisons Ornamentales | Alphonse Mucha, Maurice Verneuil and Georges Auriol | book | Librairie Centrale des Beaux Arts | c. 1900
[Simon Bell]
images: 3
text: 3
apparatus: 0
Why show six pages from Combinaisons Ornamentales on the front? This is not typical of the Archive’s approach and it does a disservice to the book. The back has more small images: the binding/cover and three more pages. There are no captions. This means that most readers are unlikely to realize that the small upper right image on the …
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Blue Pencil no. 31—The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design: B entries

The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design
(London: Phaidon Press Limited and New York: Phaidon Press, Inc., 2012)
Commissioning editor: Emilia Terragni
Project editors: Alanna Fitzpatrick, Andrew Ruff and Davina Thackara
CARDS
B [c. 1800 to 1899]
B001
Printers’ Fist | various | symbol | international | c. 1800
[Caroline Archer]
images: 3
text: 4
apparatus: 3
The front image of an array of 88 fists is nice, but not as graphically compelling as a single fist would have been (or even three stacked up)—assuming one wants to frame the card. (Neither is it as visually exciting …
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Blue Pencil no. 44—The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design: the box reconsidered

Today, the front flap of my copy of The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design suddenly fell off. I have had the box open for the past few weeks while preparing this series of Blue Pencil posts, but I never expected the flap to be so fragile that it couldn’t bear the strain of being folded down for so long. It was attached to the front with only a few dabs of glue. For now the lid is still intact.
This circumstance …
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Blue Pencil no. 42—The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design: Contents

Since Phaidon failed to include a table of contents in the booklet accompanying The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design (London: Phaidon Press Limited and New York: Phaidon Press, Inc., 2012), I have decided to perform that public service for those who have bought the box. I have listed the cards in ID order as they appear in the box when shipped. For each ID number I have indicated the title, designer and date of the item as rendered by Phaidon. I have …
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Blue Pencil no. 30—The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design: A entries

The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design
(London: Phaidon Press Limited and New York: Phaidon Press, Inc., 2012)
Commissioning editor: Emilia Terragni
Project editors: Alanna Fitzpatrick, Andrew Ruff and Davina Thackara
Blue Pencil has always avoided using rating systems, but for The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design it seems to be the only way to indicate the mixed quality of the box’s contents. Separate ratings, each on an ascending scale from 1 to 5, are provided for images, text and editorial apparatus (title block and …
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Blue Pencil no. 29—The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design: booklet

The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design
(London: Phaidon Press Limited and New York: Phaidon Press, Inc., 2012)
Commissioning editor: Emilia Terragni
Project editors: Alanna Fitzpatrick, Andrew Ruff and Davina Thackara
BOOKLET
Authors [inside front page]
There are no authors listed for A015 Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, F001 George Bernard Shaw Series, F052 Mercedes-Benz, and K005 Expo 85. Multiple authors are listed for E005 Chanel (Amelia Black and Riikka Kuittinen), E006 Bauhaus Programmes (Sony Devabhktunil, David Hyde, Paul Shaw and Graham Twemlow), E028  The New Yorker (Jody Boehnert and Ina Saltz), E037 Depero Futurista (Davina Thackara and Richard Weston), E062 Vogue (Véronique Vienne and Zoe Whitley), and G016 Herman …
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Blue Pencil no. 28—The Phaidon Archive of Design: An Assessment

The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design
(London: Phaidon Press Limited and New York: Phaidon Press, Inc., 2012)
‘The publishers would like to thank Kerry William Purcell for his help in the preparation of this book.”*
Commissioning editor: Emilia Terragni
Project editors: Alanna Fitzpatrick, Andrew Ruff and Davina Thackera
Specialist consultants: Steven Heller, Werner Jeker, Emily King, Hans Dieter Reichert, Teal Triggs, and Graham Twemlow
Phaidon team: Jane Ace, Laura Aylett, Enzo Barracco, Juliette Blightman, Emma Causer, Jacob Denno, Camilla Gersh, William Hall, Julia Hasting, Shari Last, …
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Blue Pencil no. 27—Authors of The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design

This is a guide to who wrote what in The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design (London: Phaidon Press Limited and New York: Phaidon Press, Inc., 2012). The texts in the box are uncredited and the list of author contributions in the accompanying booklet provides nothing more than entry ID numbers for each individual. There are also no author biographies. I have tried my best to provide credentials for each author, but for some I have failed to find reliable information …
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The Rchive no. 12—No. 1 in New York

The mosaics in the New York City subway system display a surprisingly subtle variety of letterforms. This is especially evident in the stations along the Broadway/Seventh Avenue line (no. 1) between South Ferry and Times Square that have their names rendered in seriffed letters: Rector Street, Cortlandt Street, Franklin Street, Canal Street, Houston Street, Christopher Street / Sheridan Square, 18th Street, 23rd Street, 28th Street and 34th Street / Pennsylvania Station. An easy way to see these differences is through …
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The Rchive no. 11—two from São Paulo

Metal R on apartment building in São Paulo. Photograph by Paul Shaw (2013).
This R is typical of the lettering style found on São Paulo buildings erected in the 1950s and 1960s. Its light weight and extended proportions distinguish it from the sans serif letters commonly found on American buildings during this period. Was it brought to São Paulo from Italy by Italian architects such as Giancarlo Palanti (1906–1977) and Achillina Bo Bardi (1914–1992)?
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An addendum to Print: The Color Issue—George F. Nesbitt 1841

Here is a short visual addendum to the current Stereotype column in Print co-written by Stephen Coles and I that focused on chromatic typefaces. These are two pages from Nesbitt’s Fourth Specimen of Machinery Cut Wood Type “manufactured and for sale by George F. Nesbitt, Tontine Building, New-York” (1841).  The specimen book is very short and all of its samples are, like those shown here, two-color decorative typefaces. Some are in red and black while others …
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A typographic mystery: an English typeface and a Maine gravestone

Last year while on vacation in Maine, I discovered peculiar letters on a well worn and lichen-encrusted gravestone in the Hope Grove Cemetery.  The tomb was for two children, Enoch P. who died in 1811 at the age of 18 and Sarah who died in 1804 at the age of ten. The foot of the tomb is missing and thus their last name is unknown, though local genealogists surmise it is Safford since a similar tomb nearby bears that name. …
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