Blue Pencil no. 17—Corrections

I received this email from Matthew Carter pointing out some mistakes in my dissection of Just My Type.

A couple of corrections to your corrections: 

p. 66 The original weight of Snell Roundhand was released in 1966. I arrived in Brooklyn in September of 1965 and had to do Cascade first and make a start on Helvetica Compressed. My one surviving Snell drawing was revised on August 1st 1966 which provides a ‘terminus post quem.’ The Bold and Black weights were done after I had returned to London in 1971 and were released in 1972.

p. 68 I believe the centenary that Bell Centennial celebrates was that of the first telephone directory, not the company.

1. If Matthew says Snell Roundhand was done in 1966 then I stand corrected. My sources included both 1965 and 1966 and I opted for the wrong date based on the year that Matthew arrived in New York City. 2. I have always believed that Bell Centennial was named for the centennial of Alexander Graham Bell’s patenting of the telephone and thought I had learned that fact from the exhibition of the typeface held at Cooper Union in 1979. But, a rereading of the monograph that was published after the exhibition supports Matthew’s (and Garfield’s) claim that Bell Centennial was named in honor of the hundredth anniversary of the telephone directory. “This book presents the progress of the design from initial sketches in 1976 through final acceptance of four fonts under the name Bell Centennial in 1978, the centennial year of the Bell directories.” in Matthew Carter: Bell Centennial Type & Technology Monograph Number 1 (The Center for Design & Typography, The Cooper Union, 1982), inside front cover. The first telephone directory is claimed to have been issued in 1878 in New Haven. It was a single sheet from the New Haven District Company, not the American Bell Telephone Company. The Chicago Telephonic Exchange of the Bell Telephone Company issued the Chicago telephone book appeared in October 1878.”>first Chicago telephone directory in October 1878. I don’t know if this was the first Bell directory.

In a follow-up email Matthew provided me with a summary history of Bell Centennial in which he is more emphatic about the origins of the name: “The first approach from AT&T to Mergenthaler about a new typeface to replace Bell Gothic was in 1974. The first sketches of the new design were presented to AT&T in 1976, and Bell Centennial was released in 1978, the centennial year of the Bell directories.”