Blue Pencil no. 5—Type: A Visual History of Typefaces and Graphic Styles 1628–1900 vol. 1

Type: A Visual History of Typefaces and Graphic Styles 1628–1900 vol. 1
edited by Cees W. de Jong, Alston W. Purvis and Jan Tholenaar
texts by Jan Tholenaar and Cees W. de Jong
(Hong Kong, Köln, London et al—Taschen, 2009)

The book comes with a keycard that allows the buyer/reader to access and download 1069 high resolution (jpeg format) images for free and without restrictions on their use.

The 134 page-website displays 8 images per page. Each is tagged with the title of the item, and information about the year it was published, the city where it was published and the type foundry that published it. This last tag is a problem as a number of the items were not issued by type foundries. Instead the type specimens come from printers and trade journals. However, the images are not individually numbered.

Most of the images are identical to those in the book, but some are new, either additional pages from a specimen or a specimen discussed but not shown (eg. the 1818 Manuale Tipografico of Giambattista Bodoni). Also, the images in the book that are printed in gold and taken out of context are available as complete pages in their original colors. Images that are full spreads in specimens are offered in two halves, a recto and a verso—but not consecutively. Matching the halves requires some searching. For example, see images 14–18 (p. 2 on the website) from the Épreuves Générales des Caractères from Claude Lamesle (Paris, 1742) which match images 20–24 (p. 3 of the website). (In the book the Lamesle specimen is reproduced on pp. 80–81.

Some of the additional images from specimens are mainly of interest to bibliographers and librarians since they are bindings or covers that show little or nothing in the way of type. A prime example is the very first image on the website which is a blank page from the Indice de Caratteri (Rome: Stampa Vaticana, 1628).

Some of the information on the website is wrong.

One of the new items is Specimen of Printing Types by Caslon & Livermore, Letter-Founders, Chiswell Street, London (items 2 and 3, p. 1). It is identified as having been issued in 1710 which is an impossibility since William Caslon had not yet begun his career as a typefounder. Since there is no date on the cover this must be one of the specimens that Nicolete Gray lists from the period 1831–1835, but which one I do not know.

Items 4–11 (pp. 1 and 2) are identified as being from this Caslon & Livermore specimen, but they clearly are not. Items 6 and 7 are from the 1891 Muster-Austausch published by Lothringer Zeitung Buchdruckerei of Metz; item 8 is a spread showing faces from the Schriftgiesserei Flinsch (with one item dated 1893); item 9 is a spread showing faces from the Rudhard’sche Giesserei; and items 4, 5 and 11 are identical! (the image contains the date 1862 but nothing that identifies the foundry).

Items 205 and 206 (p. 26), 217 and 218 (p. 28) attributed to the Journal für Buchdruckerkunst, Schriftgießerei und die verwanden Fächer (1835), are identical (see p. 112 of the book). Images 213 and 221 (p. 27 and p. 28) are also identical (see p. 113 of the book).

Items 428–431 (p. 54) are attributed to Anglaise Gravure from E. Houpied (Paris, 1883) but at the bottom they are signed Cincinnati Type Foundry (see pp. 242–243 of the book which reproduces pages from the 1888 Specimen Book from the Cincinnati Type Foundry).

Items 575 (p. 72) and 580 (p. 73) are identical as are items 577 and 580 (both p. 73). All are from Type Specimens (James Connor’s Sons, 1888). [The website inaccurately refers to the foundry as James Connor & Sons.]

Item 526 (p. 79) is upside down. It is from Buch- und Zeitungsschriften from the Rudhard’sche Giesserei which the dates to 1890 but is probably from 1891 or later. It includes sample material dated 1891. Furthermore, its design aesthetic is radically different from a second specimen book from the Rudhard’sche Geisserei (also dated 1890) included both in the book and online. It is unlikely that a typefoundry would issue two large visually unrelated specimen books in a single year.

Items 346–354 (pp. 44–45) are listed as from Specimens of Types (The Marr Typefounding Company, 1877). The binding has the title as Specimen of Types and the name of the foundry as The Marr Typefounding Co., Limited.

Not surprisingly, some of the faults of the book are repeated online, most notably a fuzziness about what constitutes a foundry. Thus, under the heading foundry one finds trade publications such as The Linotype Bulletin; printers for such publications (e.g. Johann Heinrich Meyer for the Journal für Buchdruckerkunst, Schriftgießerei und die verwandten Fächer, Alexander Waldow for the Archiv für Buchdruckerkunst; and Theodor Goebel for Die Graphischen Künste der Gegenwart; printers’ specimen exchanges such as the Internationaler Grafischer Muster-Austausch (1895); and printers H.C.A. Thieme, Hemlandsvannens Tryckeri, Rand & Avery, and the United States Label-Printing Establishment. The foundries who advertised in these publications are not mentioned, even though their names (Flinsch, Genzsch & Heyse, Benjamin Krebs, Julius Klinkhardt, Roos & Junge and others) are clearly visible to anyone who looks.

These faults and others that are in the book Type: A Visual History of Typefaces and Graphic Styles 1628–1900 will be detailed in an upcoming Blue Pencil post.