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.

Blue Pencil no. 17—Corrections

I received this email from Matthew Carter pointing out some mistakes in my dissection of Just My Type.
A couple of corrections to your corrections: p. 66 The original weight of Snell Roundhand was released in 1966. I arrived in Brooklyn in September of 1965 and had to do Cascade first and make a start on Helvetica Compressed. My one surviving Snell drawing was revised on August 1st 1966 which provides a ‘terminus post quem.’ The Bold and Black weights …
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Blue Pencil no. 17Just My Type: Addendum no. 2

In my published review of Just My Type for Imprint I mentioned some of the larger themes percolating beneath the surface of the book. One that I forgot is the notion that typefaces should look like typefaces. This is similar to Eric Gill’s declaration that “Letters are not pictures or representations.” (An Essay on Typography, p. 23) Gill was offended by letters that tried to look like things (such as letters made of tree branches, viz. the back cover of …
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Blue Pencil no. 17— Just My Type : Addendum

Predictably, my review of Just My Type on Imprint has aroused controversy. Steve Heller has defended the book—to some extent. In doing so, he mentioned that he had reviewed the book favorably for The Financial Times. When I read his review I was not upset that he liked Just My Type. I was upset by some of his reasons. Two statements jumped out at me:
He [Garfield] jumps headlong into the swelling waves of type minutiae, and is extremely knowledgeable …
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Blue Pencil no. 17—Just My Type—Part Two

p.71 “Carter then [after apprenticing at Enschedé] returned to London, and found there wasn’t much demand for skills rooted in the 1450s. So he began to paint signs, another archaic art. At the beginning of the 1960s he [Matthew Carter] went to New York… After a while he was offered a job at the Mergenthaler Linotype Company in Brooklyn….”
The implication here is that Carter moved to New York early in the 1960s, worked as a sign painter in the city …
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Blue Pencil no. 17—Just My Type—Part One

Just My Type. Jacket design by Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich.
Just My Type: A Book about Fonts
Simon Garfield
New York: Gotham Books, 2011
[London: Profile Books, 2010]
This is the original review that of Just My Type that I wrote for Imprint. I am posting it here because a number of comments in this dissection refer to it rather than to the revised review that Imprint published. For the revised review visit Imprint.
It was inevitable that once typefaces became fonts that …
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Der Typografische Kanon

Prater Gastsgätte Biergarten in Berlin During my visit to Berlin this past July I went to the Prater beer garden with a group of type geeks led by Indra Kupferschmid, Florian Hardwig and American expat Dan Reynolds. Among the others was Christoph Koeberlin who asked us to name our five essential type books. Although I do not read German I own and cherish many German and Swiss books and so chose five of them for my list: Buchkunst im …
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The Rchive no. 2

Imperial R written with broad-edged brush by Father E.M. Catich (unretouched), 1961Father E.M. Catich, a former Chicago signwriter who taught art at St. Ambrose College in Davenport, Iowa, devoted much of his life to explicating the manner in which Roman Imperial Capitals (Capitalis Monumentalis) were created. In Letters Redrawn from the Trajan Inscription in Rome (Davenport, Iowa: Catfish Press, 1961) he outlined each of the letters from the Trajan Inscription, based on the many rubbings he had made of …
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The Rchive no. 1

Inscription of Epaphroditus (Museo Nazionale di Roma), 1st c. This R is taken from the inscription to Epaphroditus, a freedman who served Emperor Nero, in the courtyard of the Museo Nazionale in Rome. It is the first in a planned series of showings of the letter R. The R is the most complex capital letter. In its classical, inscriptional form it consists of a vertical stroke (the stem), a short horizontal stroke (the link between the stem, the …
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From the Bookcase no. 4—Between Worlds: The Autobiography of Leo Lionni

Between Worlds, jacket design by Abby Weintraub
Between Worlds: The Autobiography of Leo Lionni
New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997
Strictly speaking, this book is not from my bookcase. I was unaware of its existence until Steve Heller mentioned it in one of his blogs. Yet, I never saw a copy until I visited Annie Lionni, Leo’s granddaughter and a classmate of mine at Reed College, for a college reunion meeting a few months ago. When I told her this, she insisted …
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From the Bookcase no. 3—Benjamin Sherbow

Title page, Making Type Work
Making Type Work
Benjamin Sherbow
New York: The Century Co., 1916
When I posted From the Archives no. 16 about Fred Farrar and Gilbert Farrar and From the Bookcase no. 2 about E.R. Currier and Samuel A. Bartels Matthew Carter emailed me and asked why I had overlooked Benjamin Sherbow. I had not meant to do so. I just did not have a copy of any of his books to hand at the time. Now I do.
Benjamin Sherbow …
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From the Archives no. 25—Bradbury Thompson and the Monalphabet

Westvaco Inspirations for Printers 145 (1944)
Bradbury Thompson (1911–1995) was a longtime proponent of a single alphabet, what he called the monalphabet. The evolution of his thinking on this subject is outlined in “The Monalphabet: Towards a graphically logical and consistent alphabet” in his book The Art of Graphic Design (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1988), pp. 37–41. I recently came across issue 145 of Westvaco Inspirations for Printers, the paper company promotional magazine that Thompson art directed …
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From the Archives no. 24—German printing trade magazines in the 1930s

Cover of Archiv für Buchgewerbe und Gebrauchsgraphik (1934)
In the remains of the Charles Francis Memorial Library I recently found one copy of Archiv für Buchgewerbe und Gebrauchsgraphik from 1934 and two copies of Druck und Werbekunst from 1937. They shed a little more light on the use of typefaces during the Third Reich. Archiv für Buchgewerbe und Gebrauchsgraphik was “published by the association of german printers, and it is a great source for texts and examples of german typography,” …
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From the Archives no. 23—Evangelisches Kirchengesangbuch (1950 / 1961)

Evangelisches Kirchegesangbuch für die Evangelische Kirche in Hessen und Nassau
Darmstadt: Verlag der Evangelischen Kirche in Hessen und Nassau, 1950 (15th ed., 1961)
I don’t know if a street bookseller’s stall on Unter den Linden in Berlin counts as an archive, but that is where I discovered this tiny gem of a book. It is an evangelical church hymnal, the first to be published in Germany after World War II. This particular version was authorized by the First Church Synod of …
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Genuine Imitations: A Type Designer’s View of Revivals

Matthew Carter spoke on historical revivals last night at CooperType. I had heard the talk twice before in the past year, but this time I took notes. Matthew is not only a good speaker, but he is full of pithy comments that often manage to be both amusing and deadly serious at the same time. Here are a few of them that I copied down. ”I take a predatory approach to history.”—by this, Matthew meant that he prowls history …
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From the Archives no. 22—Grids and Ornamental Typography

Newspaper Advertising: Advertising Course of Eleven Lectures Conducted by The New York Times Advertising Department (New York: The New York Times, 1932)
Lecture No. 7 “Typography”—“Fundamentals of Good Typography” by Elmer Adler, pp. 61–70
“…it shows the meticulous care with which a man like T.M. Cleland approaches the job of laying out a page. You will notice (25) that Mr. Cleland has carefully ruled the sheet in pica squares and has stamped in each ornament in the exact position he wants it …
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What’s Online no. 6 addendum—Inland Printer 1911

Another, more substantial, item of interest in The Inland Printer (vol. 48) is “A Chapter on Typographical ‘Bulls’” by C.A. Hartman (October 1911, pp. 54–57). Hartman’s article is a hilarious accounting of errors in newspapers. Here are three of his examples:

“The state should provide witnesses whose evidence would not be under suspicion as being colored by the size of their feet [fee].”
“Ripping [reaping] where they have not sewed [sowed].”
“A Gentile [gentle] laxative.”
For the most part, these errors are …
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