Research

Research consists of unintended or accidental discoveries that I have made during the course of my research into other topics. They are posted here in the belief that others may find the information equally fascinating. Some items are meant to challenge or question existing scholarship on a specific topic. And others are intended to alert scholars to material that may be relevant to their own pursuits or to new opportunities of research.

The Definitive Dwiggins no. 1—A Year (and Counting) of Dwiggins Mania

“Publicity: How to harness bill-board power with International Covers” advertising insert in Direct Advertising (vol. VII, no. 2). Design, illustration and lettering by W.A. Dwiggins, 1920.
I have been studying William Addison Dwiggins (1880–1956) for over three and a half decades. Interest in his life and work was at an ebb when I began my research in 1978, but it began to pick up in the mid-1980s and has steadily grown since. A watershed moment was 2006, the year that …
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More on Garamond no. 3 (and some notes on Gutenberg)

After writing about the history of Garamond no. 3 I came across a copy of The Linotype Magazine (vol. XVIII, no. XI) for September 1927 which includes “A Showing of the Linotype Garamond Series.” It has a showing of Garamond [no. 1], Garamond Bold [no. 1]—both equipped with several swash capitals—and a set of supplemental border designs by T.M. Cleland (pp. 174–176). There is no accompanying text. Although the identity of the designer of the swash capitals is not revealed, …
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The Mystery of Garamond no. 3

I have always wondered why the version of Garamond issued by Mergenthaler Linotype in 1936 is called Garamond no. 3. (This is the proper name of the typeface often erroneously called Garamond 3 today). Whatever happened to Garamond no. 1 and Garamond no. 2? Did they ever exist?
As usual, whenever I have a question of this sort, I turn first to Mac McGrew to see what he says. His book American Metal Typefaces of the Twentieth Century (New Castle, Delaware: Oak Knoll Books, …
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More on the National Board on Printing Type Faces

Among the material in the George Macy Papers at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University are three documents from the National Board on Printing Type Faces.
The first document is a second edition of  “National Board on Printing Type Faces: Its Organization and Work” dated 1935. Although the Board had failed in 1930 in its original attempt to reign in the proliferation of new typefaces, it apparently did not dissolve but continued on with an altered mission. No …
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“Stop Making Type”: The Quixiotic Quest of the National Board on Printing Type Faces

In 2007 I wrote an article for Print magazine (LXI:V) titled “Stop Making Type” about an organization called the National Board on Printing Type Faces and its doomed attempt in 1929/1930 to limit the number of new typefaces being produced. Since the article is not available on Imprint I am posting my original text and some images from the issue here. I am doing it because I have come across some additional material about the organization at the Newberry Library in …
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Boycott Nazi Type


Proclamation to Craftsmen, Artisans and Friends of the Graphic Arts
Last year I came across a document entitled “Proclamation to Craftsmen, Artisans and Friends of the Graphic Arts” issued by the Graphic Arts Forum in 1939. It announces a boycott of Nazi types as part of the war effort by those in graphic design and publishing. Among the signatories—all from New York—are publishers Bennett Cerf (of Random House), B.W. Huebsch (of the Viking Press), Alfred A. Knopf, and George Macy (of …
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Strathmore Papers and the Untold History of American Graphic Design

Recently Chris Harrold, Vice President of Business Development/Creative Director at Mohawk, invited me to up to the Albany/Troy area to see the Strathmore Archives that he has been digging into for the past few months. I was lured by the promise of seeing unknown work by W.A. Dwiggins and by the opportunity to do some preparation for my upcoming talk on “W.A. Dwiggins and the Promotion of Paper 1915–1935” at the Type Directors Club on June 3*.
For months both Dan Rhatigan …
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A video of Michael Harvey

Stan Knight just told me about a video made a few years ago of Michael Harvey reminiscing about his life. It can be found at the Edward Johnston Foundation website. He is sitting in his compact studio—a photograph of Luminous Boy, the black and white cat he and Pat had in the 1980s is visible in the background—quietly talking about Reynolds Stone, Eric Gill, book jackets, type design, etc. with his characteristic candor, lack of pretension and low-key humor. …
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Gilgengart: The tale of a typeface

Gilgengart Fraktur (often shortened to just Gilgengart) was the first typeface designed by Hermann Zapf. Its history is not only complicated but a bit muddy. This is because in the various books on his career, Zapf has given conflicting accounts of its origins and of the dates of each of its stages. Before trying to untangle the true story of Gilgengart, it should be noted that for all of his typefaces Zapf rightly makes a crucial distinction among the three phases …
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The Multiplicity of Type-Faces

There is always someone complaining that there are too many typefaces. In The Printing Art for August 1916 the editors, under the heading “The Multiplicity of Type-Faces” (pp. 562–563) have this to say:
Seriously, there is little need for the great variety of type-faces now offered. Of course, we require enough to relieve monotony in the appearance of our books and magazines, and to give proper emphasis in the advertising pages, but aside from this there is no absolute necessity for …
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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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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. 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. 19—Helvetica and the New York City Subway System

New York City Transit Authority Graphics Standards Manual p. 45 “Color-coding 1 11/16" discs”
Wade Penner recently wrote to point out that, “the order of the discs on the cover [of Helvetica and the New York City Subway System] does not match the 1970 Graphic Standards manual [sic], alphabetically GG comes before HH.” He is absolutely right and I am surprised that no one has brought this to my attention before. But even more surprising is that no one …
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