From the Archives no. 21—The Influence of Daniel Berkeley Updike

Printing Types: Their History, Forms, and Use: A Study in Survivals by Daniel Berkeley Updike (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1922) is the most celebrated book in the field of printing history. Although the revised edition of 1937 (reprinted in 1962) is better, the original one (or at least volume 2) is available for free as a Google Book online. (Why volume 1 is not available is a mystery.) Despite immense strides made in printing history since World War II Printing History remains a go-to book. No one has taken on the immense task of updating, correcting and revising it. The book’s importance was recognized immediately by Updike’s contemporaries. Here is what David T. Pottinger of the Harvard University Press had to say about it in 1941:

“Immediately on publication it was recognized as authoritative in a hitherto neglected field, the history of type design. Its influence during the past eighteen years has been enormous. It started an entirely new series of investigations by such men as Stanley Morison and A.F. Johnson. It stimulated the revival of sound old types that had been forgotten for more than a century. It gave impetus and direction to the movement in typography during the past two decades that makes it possible for us now to celebrate the fifth centenary of printing with a consciousness that we have not wasted our heritage.”

This quotation is taken from Pottinger’s contribution to Daniel Berkeley Updike and the Merrymount Press, Keepsake No. 61 from The American Institute of Graphic Arts (New York: The American Institute of Graphic Arts, 1940). Despite his importance as a printer and as a scholar of printing Updike (1868–1941) is not included in any of the major textbooks on graphic design history.