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.

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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Blue Pencil no. 18—Arial addendum postscript from John Downer

John Downer has responded to my discussion of his essay “Call It What It Is”. He believes that I misinterpreted his words. Here is his rejoinder. (My original comments are in quotation marks followed by John’s responses.)
“Downer does not use the term pirated but counterfeit is surely the same.” The word “pirated” was consciously avoided not because there wasn’t room for it, but because I did not mean that only a counterfeited font can qualify as a pirated font. …
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From the Archives no. 26—Helvetica and Univers addendum

Indra Kupferschmid was in New York today and we had lunch. She provided me with a document that indicates that the idea for renaming Neue Haas Grotesk as Helvetica did not originate with Walter Cunz as the Mergenthaler Linotype advertisment states but with Heinz Eul, a sales manager at D. Stempel AG. (Eul gave the document to Erik Spiekermann who kindly provided a scan of it to Indra.) The story is told in Helvetica Forever: The Story of a Typeface …
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From the Archives no. 26—Helvetica and Univers

During a visit to the Herb Lubalin Study Center at Cooper Union I flipped through some early issues of U&lc. In the first issue (vol. 1, no. 1 1974) I came across a three-page advertisement from Mergenthaler Linotype (labeled an article by them) in which the first page (p. 43) was devoted to an announcement of two new weights of Helvetica. Entitled “Everything you ever wanted to know about Helvetica—but were afraid to ask” (a nod to the popular book Everything …
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Blue Pencil no. 18—Arial addendum no. 4

I recently received an email from Robin Nicholas, Monotype’s Head of Typography in the United Kingdom, shedding more light on Monotype’s attempt in the 1950s to redesign Monotype Grotesque to satisfy the needs of German and Swiss customers: 
The saga of these fonts [three “New Grotesque” fonts] was rumbling on when I joined the TDO [Monotype’s Type Drawing Office] in 1965, although I did not get directly involved. It began in 1956 with a request from German and Swiss customers …
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Blue Pencil no. 18—Arial addendum no. 3

The Arial thread that I began a few weeks ago keeps attracting comment. Indra Kupferschmid, the German typographer, has sent me a series of emails full of some provocative questions about Monotype Grotesque. I have taken the liberty (with Indra’s approval) of quoting the most pertinent parts of her emails. I am also posting her supporting images. Indra writes, “I never heard of a “New Grotesque” [from Monotype] from 1956. Why would they stop developing it when every single foundry …
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Blue Pencil no. 18—Arial addendum no. 2

Nick Sherman has been avidly following my Arial postings and in a recent email had this to say:
In the post, you say: “A clone is not only a typeface that looks like another one but has nearly the same data. By this definition Arial is not a clone of Helvetica, even though it has muscled in on Helvetica’s commercial success.” In some ways you are wrong. While the outlines of Arial are different from Helvetica, most of the …
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Blue Pencil no. 18—Arial addendum

Nick Sherman suggests that those interested in the Arial story look under the Wikipedia hood to see who has contributed to its account of the typeface. “This can be found by comparing previous edits of the article, under the ‘View history’ tab. For example, you can see that Thomas Phinney has edited the Arial article several times. You can also find some interesting tidbits under the ‘Discussion’ tab. He also reminds me that John Downer tackled the subject …
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Blue Pencil no. 18—Some history about Arial

I have moved the third portion of Matthew Carter’s email to me regarding Just My Type (see Blue Pencil no. 17—Correction) to a separate post since it was not a correction but a further elucidation of a commment I made. And I have paired it with Rod McDonald’s follow-up email (formerly Blue Pencil no. 17—Addendum).
Matthew Carter: Somewhere there must be a proper account of the beginnings of Arial, but at the risk of repeating myself or somebody else, here goes. …
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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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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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