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.

The Rchive no. 6—Stencil

R from unknown storefont on the south side of West 34th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues, Manhattan, New York. Photographed 16 February 2013.
I stupidly photographed this R in the entryway to a store without recording its name. It is Times Roman but the stencil effect, coupled with the light (only visible in the stem), takes it out of the mundane. Who knew Times Roman could be so alluring?

The Rchive no. 7—the Industrial R (Sans serif division)

Hercules Seating Company, 25–45 Park Place, Manhattan, New York. Photographed 15 February 2013.
The Hercules Seating Company appears to be closed. That does not bode well for its lovely mid-century sans serif sign. The letters are typical of the interwar sans that inspired Hoefler & Frere-Jones’ wildly popular Gotham typeface. What is different about the Hercules Seating Company letters from the many other examples of “Gotham” sans serifs found throughout the five boroughs is the rounded faceting that is more …
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The Rchive no. 8—the Industrial R (Serif division)

The Oltarsh Building, 418 Broadway, Manhattan, New York City. Detail. Photographed 3 February 2008.
The Oltarsh Building was built by David M. Oltarsh as the Major Theatre in 1927. It is a three-story brick building with capital letters spelling out “THE OLTARSH BUILDING” affixed to the facade between the third story and the roof.
This R has the same industrial proportions as the one in The Rchive no. 7. But now there is a contrast of thick/thin to the strokes coupled …
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Legacy of Letters 2013 profile—Tony Di Spigna

Tony Di Spigna has been creating gems of Spencerian script—his term for drawn lettering derived from roundhand and other forms of pointed-pen writing—for over forty years. He learned the skill from Tom Carnase while working for Herb Lubalin & Associates, though I believe he has surpassed his mentor. There are two things that have always impressed me the most about Tony’s Spencerian script: 1. the gracefulness and naturalness of his curves; and 2. his ability to make compositions that hold …
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The Rchive no. 4—more neon

Neon R from RESTAURANT (Tom’s Restaurant, 2880 Broadway, New York City), 1957.
This lovely neon R is the second one from Tom’s Restaurant in Morningside Heights, made famous by the sitcom Seinfeld. It can be found on p. 116 of New York Neon by Tom Rinaldi (mentioned in The Rchive no. 3) as well as on his neon blog. Rinaldi says that it was originally manufactured for the Columbia Restaurant, but does not indicate when …
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The Rchive no. 3—Neon

Neon R from LIQUORS (Riverside Liquor, 2746 Broadway, New York City), 1955
It has been far too long since I added an image to the Rchive. This neon R from the Manhattan Valley neighborhood of New York City dates from 1955 according to the authoritative New York Neon by Thomas Rinaldi (W.W. Norton & Company, 2012; p. 104). Liquor stores are one of the best places to see neon signs. But most are predictable: sans …
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Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana announces digitized manuscripts

The Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana has finally begun to make public digital versions of its vast manuscript holdings. The first 256 manuscripts went online earlier this week, starting with Ott. Lat. 259 (a collation, combining a 9th c. manuscript of a text by Augustinus with a medieval manuscript of texts by Valerianus Cemelensis and Isidorus) and ending with Vat. lat. 11506 (a 9th c. Cicero). Most of the manuscripts are from the Palatini latini (Pal. lat.) collection.
Looking at the Digitized Manuscripts …
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Blue Pencil no. 26—Zapfiana no. 4: The Typefaces of Gudrun Zapf-von Hesse

After completing Zapfiana no. 3 it seemed only right that Gudrun Zapf-von Hesse* (b. 1918), Hermann Zapf’s wife and a talented type designer in her own right, be given the same treatment. Unfortunately, the literature on her is much slighter than that on her husband. There is are only two sources of significant length, one that focuses on her alone and one on the two Zapfs; and then there is one slender publication about the both of them. None of …
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Blue Pencil no. 25—A last word on About More Alphabets

Jerry Kelly has emailed me (12 December 2012) with a response to Blue Pencil no. 24 but also with a request not to post his comments. Although I will honor his request not to quote him or his email I will respond to two of his assertions. First, he claims that Comenius Antiqua had oldstyle figures and suggests I look at the Berthold Exklusiv specimen. Although I am not sure which specimen from Berthold he has in mind, my copy …
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“Who Made That? (Subway Signage)”—Who Knows?

“Who Made That? (Subway Signage)” by Pagan Kennedy, in The New York Times Magazine for 9 December 2012 (p. 30), discusses the signage of the New York City subway system that Unimark developed between 1966 and 1970. I was contacted for information for the short article, specifically about Helvetica as the iconic typeface of the system. I tried to explain the complicated history of the system’s use of Standard (Akzidenz Grotesk) and Helvetica; and to distinguish the contributions of …
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Blue Pencil no. 24—Jerry Kelly response to Blue Pencil no. 23

Jerry Kelly has emailed me about Blue Pencil no. 24. Here is his commentary with my responses.

While it was good to see Paul Shaw acknowledge that “Kelly is right,” “Kelly is absolutely right,” “Kelly is making a subtle but important distinction,” “mea [Shaw] culpa,”; etc., about many errors I pointed out in his review of “About More Alphabets,” I’m afraid that his response to me introduced yet more errors.

[I did acknowledge errors in Blue Pencil no. 23 but three times …
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Blue Pencil no. 23—Jerry Kelly response to Zapfiana no. 1

Jerry Kelly responded on 5 December 2012 with this email detailing alleged errors in my recent Zapfiana no. 1 post. I have annotated his email (adding text to his excerpts from my post to make the context clearer), indicating where he is right and where I believe I am. The errors that he found in my post have been corrected.
Paul;
Truthfully, I did not want to spend too much time on a lengthy correction of the erroneous information in what you …
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Blue Pencil no. 21—Zapfiana no. 2: What Our Lettering Needs

Cover of What Our Lettering Needs by Rick Cusick (2011). Design by Rick Cusick.
What Our Lettering Needs: The Contribution of Hermann Zapf to Calligraphy & Type Design at Hallmark Cards
Rick Cusick
Rochester: RIT Cary Graphic Arts Press, 2011
136 pp.
6.75 x 10 in.
softcover
$24.95
http://carypress.rit.edu/subject/calligraphy
introduction by Sumner Stone
designed by Rick Cusick
set in Crown Roman and Italic
full color

What Our Lettering Needs: The Contribution of Hermann Zapf to Calligraphy & Type Design at Hallmark Cards by Rick Cusick, a Hallmark “lifer”, is also published by the …
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Blue Pencil no. 22—Zapfiana no. 3: Works and Typefaces

The publication of About More Alphabets by Jerry Kelly spurred me to create this third Zapfiana post which lists books by and about Hermann Zapf and typefaces by him (as well as pirated copies by others). The latter is, unfortunately, incomplete as gathering information on them has been very difficult. But it is a task that needs to be done.
Last updated 13 December 2012.
ZAPFIANA
This is a list of the most important texts by and about Hermann Zapf arranged in chronological …
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Blue Pencil no. 20—Zapfiana no. 1: About More Alphabets

Title page spread, About More Alphabets (2011). Typography by Jerry Kelly.
About More Alphabets
Jerry Kelly and Robert Bringhurst
Rochester: The Typophiles and RIT Cary Graphic Arts Press, 2011
Typophile Chap Book New Series no. 3
112 pp.
4.5 x 7 in.
$35
http://carypress.rit.edu/publications/books/about-more-alphabets.html
[updated 7 December 2012 to reflect corrections pointed out by Jerry Kelly]
Hermann Zapf (b. 1918), widely considered to be one of the preeminent type designers of the 20th century, has continued to design new typefaces and revise earlier ones in the 21st century. His career …
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Book Review—Type Revivals

 
Title page, Type Revivals
Type Revivals: What are they? Where did they come from? Where are they going?
Jerry Kelly
New York: The Typophiles, 2011
Typophile Monographs New Series no. 27
Based on a talk given at the ATypI congress in St. Petersburg, Russia 2008
Design & typography by Jerry Kelly. Set in Adobe Garamond Premier types.
16 pp. 6″x9″. Black and white; illustrated. 300 copies printed.
Blue Pencil has not previously tackled monographs or articles, but there is no reason that they should fall outside of its …
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