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.

What’s Online no. 4—Inland Printer 1899

Several months ago I stumbled across the complete 1899 issues of the Inland Printer on Google Books. I downloaded the bound set and in skimming the pages this item caught my attention.
It is not creditable to the American people that they have to be “lawed” into respecting the flag of their country and the uniforms of the service. New York has found it necessary to pass a law making it a misdemeanor to publicly mutilate or deface the American flag. …
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From the Archives no. 15—Helvetica and Standard

Something else that I came across at the High School for Graphic Communication Arts were two issues of a former local trade magazine called Graphics: New York. Both were from 1965 and they help to pin down the moment when Helvetica arrived in New York and began to muscle out Standard (aka Akzidenz Grotesk).
The first issue is volume 2, number 1 from January 1965. On its back cover is an advertisement from Amsterdam Continental Types, the firm that imported European …
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From the Archives no. 14—Linoskala


The High School of Graphic Communication Arts in New York City, originally founded in 1925 as the New York School of Printing, is changing with the times and one casualty is its extensive library of books, periodicals and ephemera about the printing industries (papermaking, binding, type design and manufacture, typography, editing and proofreading, graphic design, photography, illustration and more). Fortunately, thanks to Abby Goldstein, the material is being saved from the dumpster and will be …
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From the Archives no. 13—Frederic Goudy

Recently I was looking through back issues of The New Yorker online in order find “Glorifier of the Alphabet”, a profile of Frederic W. Goudy written by Milton MacKaye and published in the January 14, 1933 issue. I thought it might contain some information on the famous but vexatious quotation about stealing sheep attributed to Goudy. There is much dispute online over the exact wording of the quotation and what, specifically, Goudy was complaining about: spacing lowercase type, spacing …
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From the Archives no. 12—The Formation of American Type Founders



The Formation of ATF
The new year is a good time to air out mistakes and acknowledge errors. In several past Blue Pencil posts I have taken others to task for stating that American Type Founders was formed in 1892 from the merger of 23 foundries. I based my argument on several things: the genealogies of foundries in Alastair Johnston, Maurice Annenberg and other sources did not add up; the fact …
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What’s Online no. 3 addendum—The Catich Collection

The quotation in the previous post about trying to date the shift from the use of the reed as a brush to its use as a broad-edged tool caught my attention when sifting through the Catich Collection website because James Mosley and I had been wondering when (and why) the Romans changed from making monotone letters to letters with contrasting stroke thickness. We often describe the former as Republican and the latter as Imperial because they generally correlate with those …
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What’s Online no. 3—The Catich Collection

The recent comment by James Mosley re: Father Catich and W.R. Lethaby led to a discussion between us about what Father Catich’s sources were. That prompted me to see if any of Father Catich’s research materials for his books on the Trajan Inscription survive. I knew that St. Ambrose University, the school in Davenport, Iowa, where he that he taught had a collection of his inscriptions, calligraphy and other artistic works since I had been in touch with the archivist …
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From the Archives no. 11: Woman’s Work?

This is a post that owes a big debt of thanks to Caitlin Dover, my former colleague at Print magazine. She is doing research on 19th c. signs in New York City and came across this intriguing reference to women signpainters. It is in The Employments of Women: A Cyclopaedia of Woman’s Work by Virginia Penny (Boston: Walker, Wise & Co., 1863), pp. 471–472. The entry, one of a long list of potential professions for women that defiantly avoids …
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What’s Online no. 2: German Propaganda Archive


At TypeCon 2010 in Los Angeles last month I bought a copy of Der Schulungsbrief, a Nazi publication because it was dated January 1940 and I was curious about its typography. Unfamiliar with the periodical I Googled it and—to my surprise—came across an entire section of a website devoted to it. See http://www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/gpa/schul43.htm operated by Prof. Randall Bytwerk of Calvin College, a specialist on Nazi propaganda. Der Schulungsbrief was a …
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What’s Online no. 1: Display

For years website designers Greg D’Onofrio and Patricia Belen of Kind Company, best known for the design of the website Alvin Lustig 1915–1955: Modern Design Pioneer, have been assiduously collecting examples of modern design from old books and periodicals to corporate brochures and other ephemera. Instead of hoarding their wealth of material, they have decided to generously share it with the rest of the world through Display, their new website.
Greg and Patricia are doing this …
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From the Archives no. 10: Specimen Sheets vs. Alphabet Sheets

The Desk Catalogue of ‘Monotype’ Faces (London: The Monotype Corporation Limited, n.d.) is a ring binder of specimen sheets of Monotype and Monophoto faces dated from 1962 to 1966. The short introduction (unsigned but probably by Beatrice Warde) has this to say:
“It should be emphasized however that the primary purpose of these official specimen sheets is not that to which designers have attempted to put them, namely that of model-letter sheets for tracing in pencil layouts. For that purpose, the …
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From the Archives no. 9—Typographic Sanity




The May 1930 issue of The Linotype Magazine (vol. 19, no. 2) issued by Mergenthaler Linotype is entitled “Typographic Sanity.” It opens with this look back at the typography of the 1920s:
“As the cold gray dawn breaks upon the morning after an orgy of tangled type design, a weary printing industry shakes its aching head and asks, ‘Whither are we bound?’
“The descent was …
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From the Archives no. 8: The New Typography Hits a Speed Bump in the United States

This editorial from Vanity Fair is a small but telling indication of the difficulty that the new typography had in gaining a toe-hold in America in the late 1920s and 1930s. When the anonymous author refers to the “new typography” he is probably speaking of die neue Typographie of Jan Tschichold et al in mind, but it is not entirely clear since he mentions it as having started c.1920 and associates it with advertising. Many design observers in the late …
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From the Archives no. 7—Notes on Books and Printing

Some Notes on Books and Printing
Charles T. Jacobi
London: Charles Whittingham & Co. at The Chiswick Press, 1903
originally printed 1892
I discovered this printer’s guide through Google Books. These excerpts are relevant to the Blue Pencil project on this blog.
“Whatever else be wrong a book must be spelt correctly!”, p. 14
“All works are the better for an Index….” p. 18
“A good index must be exhaustive; must include the various “points” of a book; must gather under one heading the same subjects; must …
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From the Archives no. 6—Artistic Printing

The October 1939 issue of The Inland Printer has a two-page spread on the history of Hatch Show Print in Nashville, Tennessee (pp. 27–28) and a short piece entitled “Way Back When Time Wasn’t Important” about an 1886 concert notice. The text of the notice is quite brief—CONCERT. / ARION CLUB / LIBRARY HALL, BERLIN, / FRIDAY EVENING, / JANUARY 8th, 1886— but the design is complex. It is set within an ornate border with three musical ornaments (top, right …
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From the Archives no. 5—Photo-lettering

Here is some additional information on photolettering techniques from The Inland Printer. The techniques have already been discussed in a previous post on information in The American Printer. There are no accompanying illustrations.
January 1940, p. 72 A short announcement of Photo-ray, a “clever-new process invented by Edwin W. Krauter” in which transparent pattern letters, made from original alphabets provided by “master letterers”, are assembled by hand from a case and then placed in a line (which can be angled or …
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