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 and bottom) and a decorated initial A (left) worked into its sides. The typeface for ARION CLUB has been identified as Glyptic (designed by Herman Ihlenburg in 1878 for Mackellar, Smiths & Jordan). It is an example of Artistic Printing and was apparently composed by Clinton F. Hicks, manager of the Chicago branch of American Type Founders, when he was young. The job was printed by his father George C. Hicks whose shop Hicks The Printer operated in Berlin, Wisconsin from 1883 to 1916. Here is what the younger Hicks had to say about the job:

“But in father’s early days as a printer, time was of no such great importance as now. The job of setting the borders and fitting them around the three musical ornaments and the initial letter, and the other work incidental to setting up the program probably took at least half a day. If the print shop owner made as much as fifty cents an hour on a job like that, he was doing very well.”

He goes on to emphasize that this was the period when printers first began to learn about layout.