Blue Pencil no. 30—The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design: A entries
The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design
(London: Phaidon Press Limited and New York: Phaidon Press, Inc., 2012)
Commissioning editor: Emilia Terragni
Project editors: Alanna Fitzpatrick, Andrew Ruff and Davina Thackara
Blue Pencil has always avoided using rating systems, but for The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design it seems to be the only way to indicate the mixed quality of the box’s contents. Separate ratings, each on an ascending scale from 1 to 5, are provided for images, text and editorial apparatus (title block and captions). In this manner, the contributions of the authors and those of the Phaidon editorial team are evaluated independently.
My judgements about the texts have taken into account the expectations and requirements Phaidon set for the authors in the “Phaidon Compendium of Graphic Design: Writers’ brief” (2008) that accompanied the contract. Here they are in their entirety:
• Each entry should be not less than 300 words long and not more than 400. In the case of certain designs such as logos, where there is little information available, the length can be less than 300.
• Each entry should aim to provide detailed information on the origins and application of the selected design.
• The text should inform the reader of the historical context in which the design emerged, pinpointing key individuals, institutions and/or companies.
• To avoid repetition of biographical information for multiple entries by the same designer, we advise that you keep such information to a minimum and place the design in the context of the designer’s career.
• You should strive to highlight the unique elements of the design (typographic/image/colour/application), how it has set a precedent and its influence, if any, on later designs. This is key to the entry—please try to avoid detailed discussion of other content relating to the design (such as book/magazine contents, the history of advertising campaigns or that of organisations responsible for the design etc.), which is not strictly relevant.
• If the design is no longer in use, or has been modiﬁed, your caption should make clear why this work remains an important design.
• Your writing style should be formal in tone, but not overly ‘dry’. Please avoid quotations as no provision has been made for footnotes or endnotes, and subjective or emotive comments.
• Please supply a full bibliography of all sources consulted, including websites. We recommend that you consult a minimum of 3 sources for each entry if possible to ensure a good range of information.
In my view Phaidon made a mistake in eschewing quotations since they provide not only documentation but information in a potentially lively or incisive manner. The decision not to include citations, despite insisting on them from contributors, was even worse. Phaidon’s restriction of the texts to 300 to 400 words is not an obstacle to their quality. It merely obligated authors to be precise in their language, concise in their descriptions and sharp with their insights.
A [1377 to 1798]—21 entries
Buljo Jikji Simche Yojeol | various | book | Heungdeok Temple | 1377
There is no mention of the Buddhist monk Baegun (1298–1374, Buddhist name Gyeonghan) as the author of Buljo Jikji Simche Yojeol.
Nearly half of Wong’s text is concerned with printing in China prior to Jikji, yet there are no images for these efforts (e.g. movable type by Bi Sheng or Jiaozi, “the world’s ﬁrst paper money”)—though they rightly deserve to be separate entries in the Archive.
Awkward sentence: “China had also led the ancient world in devising earlier printing technologies, such as xylography, where the reverse of an image is carved into a woodblock, which ﬁrst emerged from as early as 600 AD.”
There are no captions for the two images. The front image is presumably an interior spread and the back image appears to be the front cover.
Gutenberg Bible | Johann Gutenberg | book | self-commissioned | c.1453–1455
There are no captions for the front image and three back images. Judging by the border decorations, they appear to be pages (two spreads and two individual pages) from four different copies of the Gutenberg Bible. The front image should be rotated and enlarged. Neither it nor the three back images are large enough to clearly see Gutenberg’s typeface. Instead of so many images of the Bible there should have been images of a contemporaneous manuscript and block book for comparison.
“Johannes Gutenberg, a goldsmith from Mainz, spent almost 20 years perfecting his invention, ﬁnishing his [Gutenberg’s] 42-line Bible in about 1453–5.”—Although information on Gutenberg is very sparse Albert Kapr says that his partnership “for the adventure and art” began in 1438 and that the Bible was ﬁnished in 1455. It should be noted that some pages only have 40 lines.
The paragraph describing punchcutting, matrix making and type casting is conjectural in regard to Gutenberg. Saltz makes no mention of the recent and controversial research of Paul Needham and Blaise Agüera y Arcas that suggests that Gutenberg made his type by sand casting instead of striking a matrix with a punch. There is also no information on Gutenberg’s pre-Bible printing efforts (such as the Latin grammar by Donatus c.1450 or the 1454 Certiﬁcate of Indulgence) or his fate after the completion of the Bible.
For detailed information on Gutenberg’s life and work see Johann Gutenberg: The Man and His Invention by Albert Kapr (1996). For better images (albeit in black and white) of Gutenberg’s type see pp. 16–17 of Historical Types by Stan Knight (2012). For the controversy on Gutenberg’s typemaking methods see Blaise Agüera y Arcas, ‘Temporary Matrices and Elemental Punches in Gutenberg’s DK type’ in Incunabula and Their Readers: Printing, Selling and Using Books in the Fifteenth Century, edited by Kristian Jensen (London: The British Library, 2003), pp. 1-12 and Stephen Spratt, ‘The Myth of Identical Types: A Study of Printing Variations from Handset Gutenberg Type’ in Journal of The Printing Historical Society, New Series 6 (2003).
Nuremberg Chronicle | Michael Wolgemut, Wilhelm Pleydenwurff and Albrecht Dürer | book | Sebald Schreyer and Sebastian Kammermeister | 1493
There are no captions for the six images (one on the front and ﬁve on the back) of pages from the German edition of the Nuremberg Chronicle. All are hand-colored which is not typical of it or of the Latin edition.
Although Boehnert notes that there were typographic differences between the Latin and German editions of the Nuremberg Chronicle, her descriptions of the two typefaces used (“Antiqua Rotunda” and “Bastarde Schwabacher” respectively) are confusing. Antiqua refers to roman letters, so named in opposition to “moderna” letters such as rotunda which is a blackletter or Gothic style. Schwabacher, a bastard style containing elements of rotunda and bâtarde, needs no qualiﬁer (and certainly not a non-word such as “Bastarde”). More importantly, Boehnert makes no mention of the fact that the Nuremberg Chronicle is signiﬁcant because we have contracts and layouts for it that provide insight into early printing practice. See The Making of the Nuremberg Chronicle by Adrian Wilson (1976) and Painted Prints: The Revelation of Color in Northern Renaissance and Baroque Engravings, Etchings and Woodcuts by Susan Dackerman (2003).
Boehnert implies that all copies of the Nuremberg Chronicle were colored, an impression reinforced by the images, when, in fact, only some luxury copies were. Unfortunately, there are no images of un-colored pages, no examples of the preparatory layouts, and no examples from the Latin edition which preceded the German one.
Bembo | Francesco Griffo | typeface | Aldus Manutius | 1495
This entry is confusingly labeled. Either the title is wrong or the date is wrong. The typeface that Francesco Griffo cut in 1495 had no name; Bembo, the typeface from the Monotype Corporation inspired by it, was issued in 1929.
The caption for image no. 2 on the back says “Specimen sheet” when it is a page from De Aetna. Image no. 1 is a page from Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (1499), the book whose type inspired Poliphilus, issued by the Monotype Corporation in 1923. There is no mention of this book or its typeface in Michaelson’s text—probably because they are the subject of A005. The image on the front, a specimen of Monotype Bembo (post-1959), further blurs the issue as to whether the subject of the entry is Griffo’s face or Monotype’s. It is uncaptioned and unexceptional.
“Whereas Gutenberg’s ﬁrst typefaces, of around 1439, mimicked the Germanic Gothic or blackletter manuscript style—employing a heavy, broad-nibbed form, constructed with straight or angular strokes and almost no curves—Italian printers of a few decades later derived their types from the more rounded roman letter style. Rather than imitating handwriting and calligraphy, the Italians created type inspired by the perfectly proportioned lettering of classical Roman inscriptions, as seen on Trajan’s Column in Rome. Bembo, one of the most successful fonts ever designed, is the classic typeface of the Italian school, but retains a number of calligraphic features, particularly evident in the serifs.”—Michaelson is wrong about the date of Gutenberg’s typeface; needlessly verbose in her description of textura; wrong about the inspiration for roman types (if Roman inscriptions were the sole influence, then where did lowercase letters come from?); and wrong about where there are calligraphic feature in Griffo’s type.
Michaelson also downplays the signiﬁcance and influence of Nicolas Jenson’s typeface while failing to describe the innovative aspects of Griffo’s type (e.g. its narrower and shorter capitals compared to those Jenson, its lighter weight, or its straight-legged h). She also makes no mention of other typefaces that have been inspired by it, such as Dante, Yale and Arno.
Hypnerotomachia Poliphili | Aldus Manutius | book | Leonardo Crassus | 1499
There are no captions. Even though all ﬁve images (four on the back in addition to the front image) are from the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, information about the pages being shown could have been provided. The supplementary images are the binding (original?) and three spreads. None are shown at a scale that allows examination of the woodcuts or the typeface. The larger front image should be rotated and enlarged since it too is insufﬁcient for making an examination of Griffo’s type. Although the woodcuts are the principal focus of Brown’s text, none of the most famous or important ones in the book are shown. The woodcuts on the front spread are especially unimportant while those on the back that are of interest (lower left and upper right spreads) are too small to properly appreciate. Brown accurately describes the “new lightness of page” that Aldus achieved in the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili with its balance of type, initials and illustrations, but the only spread that shows all of that (back, lower right) is also too small. Phaidon should have limited the number of images to two: one showing the best woodcuts (e.g. folios k5v–k6r) and one showing the best layouts (e.g. folio a6v). See Special Collections Department, Glasgow University Library (February 2004) webpage for these and other images from the book.
Brown, like Michaelson, refers to Griffo’s 1495 De Aetna typeface as the “Bembo font”. He repeats the common, but incorrect, claim that Aldus set his classics in italic because it was more economical of space. In fact, Griffo’s italic has the same width as his roman.
In the title Phaidon has left out Francesco Colonna as the author of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, although they include authors for other books.
Lo Presente Libro | Giovanantonio Tagliente | book | self-commissioned | 1524
Bell’s opening sentence: “A distant forerunner of Hermann Zapf’s Manuale Typographicum (1954), which illustrated typographical compositions, Lo Presente Libro is a tribute to the art of calligraphy and the joy of creating beautiful letterforms.”—There is a fundamental difference between these two works, beyond the fact that one is calligraphic and the other typographic: Tagliente was creating an educational work and Zapf was creating a promotional one. Tagliente’s alphabets and calligraphic designs were meant as models for scribes to copy. Zapf’s layouts were both a personal creative expression and a showcase of types available from D. Stempel AG, several of them being either his or his wife’s. Bell should have been situating Tagliente’s book in the rich history of writing manuals—or at least comparing it to Zapf’s masterly Feder und Stichel (Pen and Graver) (1952) calligraphic sampler. Why Phaidon included Lo Presente Libro instead of the earlier and more important La Operina (1522) by Arrighi is a puzzler.
There are three images (all spreads) from Lo Presente Libro, one on the front—an exuberant tangled text in cancellaresca corsiva opposite a series of abbreviations for salutations (“Per seguire l’ordine nostro imparerei di fare queste breviature si come tu vedi.”)—and two on the back. Although not as visually exciting as the front image, the lower one on the back is more important as it shows Tagliente’s italic typeface (verso) as well as his basic model of the cancellaresca corsiva. Bell discusses neither of these salient aspects of Lo Presente Libro, despite providing a long description of the book’s contents. There are no captions to the images to rectify this oversight.
Bell’s closing remarks: “As metal type became popular, it made xylography largely obsolete…. His [Tagliente’s] book could therefore be seen as an early example of a designer ignoring prevailing technical trends to produce a highly personal work.”—This is not true. Xylography was the only method available to Tagliente to reproduce his calligraphy.
Garamond | Claude Garamond [sic] | typeface | self-commissioned | 1530
The front image is, uncredited, is of an undated specimen sheet of Monotype Garamond which, as any self-respecting type historian should know, is not based on the work of Claude Garamont (the preferred spelling of his name) but on that of Jean Jannon c. 1621. Archer even compounds this error by stating, “In the 1920s Stanley Morison and the Monotype Corporation successfully designed a family of fonts based on the original matrices….” She should have discussed the origins of Monotype Garamond—and before it ATF Garamond—and the groundbreaking article on Garamond’s types written by Paul Beaujon (Beatrice Warde) for The Fleuron in 1926. And she should have mentioned Stempel Garamond and Adobe Garamond as true revivals of Garamont’s types.
Archer gets other things wrong: “Claude Garamond was a French type founder, publisher, punch cutter and type designer, who trained in 1510 ﬁrst with Simon de Colines in Paris, and then with Geoffroy Tory.”; and “…he [Garamond] based his own roman characters on Manutius’ font De Aetna, cut in 1455. He based much of the design of his lowercase letters on the handwriting of Angelo Vergecio, librarian to the French King Francis I.”—H.D.L. Vervliet’s research indicates that Garamont was born c. 1510, that he trained with Antoine Augereau, and that his earliest types were not cut until the mid-1530s and that his ﬁrst type of quality (possibly the one whose matrices are illustrated on the back of the entry) was not cut until 1542. Garamont based the lowercase of the Grecs du Roi—not his Roman lowercase—on the handwriting of Vergecio. Archer also gets the date for Francesco Griffo’s De Aetna font wrong (it is 1495) and implies that it was cut by Aldus Manutius. And she is wrong about Garamont’s publishing activities which did not continue from 1545 onwards, but only comprised a dozen books.
See “The Young Garamont: Roman Types Made in Paris in the 1530s” (2007) and other essays in The Palaeotypography of the French Renaissance by H.D.L. Vervliet (2008) for information on Garamont and his contemporary Robert Granjon, a greater punchcutter whose achievements are missing from the Archive.
Mercator Projection | Gerardus Mercator | information design | Duke Wilhelm of Cleves | 1569
The front image, Mercator’s map of the world, should be rotated and enlarged. The back images—a spread showing the world from Atlas Mercator 1595, “Map of the Arctic, 1595” (by Mercator?) and “Map of Europe, 1613” (by who?)—would also beneﬁt from being bigger. But more importantly, they should have been replaced by several other types of maps: e.g. R. Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion Map (1943), the 1973 map by Arnold Peters that challenged the Mercator projection, or an azimuthal map. (The latter two are both discussed by West.)
Orbis Sensualium Pictis | Johannes Amos Comenius | book | Michael Endteri | 1658
Why is the front image so small? Is that the real size of Orbis Sensualium Pictus? There are no captions and Phaidon has eschewed information on dimensions for entries in the Archive, so it is unclear if this small size is simply a decision by the designer to increase white space. But see Orbis Pictus Revised: An Interactive Exhibition for a sense of its scale as well as a picture of its title page (which is not shown in the entry as the front image and the four on the back are all spreads). The spreads all appear to be from the same book, but it would be nice to have a caption conﬁrming that since Orbis Sensualium Pictus went through numerous editions.
The images are all similar. To get a better variety of the material in Orbis Sensualium Pictus, albeit from a 1672 English edition, see the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development slideshow.
Gillieson notes that the book is written in both Latin and the vernacular but makes no mention of the different typefaces used for each language. (They look like schwabacher for German and roman for Latin.) She implies that Comenius, a Czech, was Hungarian.
Gillieson describes the text as being written for Comenius’ “own use”, yet the title block lists Michael Endteri, the printer, as client. This is a good instance where self-commissioned would have been better.
Caslon | William Caslon | typeface | self-commissioned | 1734
The excellent front image of “A Specimen by William Caslon, Letter-Founder, in Chiswell-Street, London” (1734) is not identiﬁed. The captions only refer to the two back images: “First printed edition of the Declaration of Independence, set in Caslon, John Dunlap, 1776” and “Character set”. The latter refers to an undated showing of a 20th c. version of Caslon, though which one I cannot say as it does not match anything in American Metal Typefaces of the Twentieth Century by Mac McGrew (1993), A Miscellany of Type from the Whittington Press (1990) or George W. Jones’ 1924 Caslon specimen for Stephenson Blake & Co. Ltd.
To label Caslon’s type as “self-commissioned” ignores the role that printer William Bowyer played in convincing Caslon to change his profession from gunsmith to punchcutter. The date in the title block is for Caslon’s type specimen, not for his typefaces, of which the ﬁrst roman was cut in 1725. Yet Saltz writes, “The name Caslon refers to a family of typefaces created by the English type designer, William Caslon, of which the earliest is his famous 1734 specimen sheet.”
Saltz’ description of Caslon type—“Characterized by a larger x-height than preceding Dutch types, short ascenders and descenders, bracketed serifs, moderate-to-high contrast and a robust overall appearance…”—is applicable to designs such as ATF Caslon Oldstyle no. 471 or ATF Caslon 540 or Matthew Carter’s Big Caslon, but not to the diverse range of William Caslon’s actual typefaces (just look at the 1734 specimen) or to designs such as Monotype Caslon no. 337 or Adobe Caslon. Saltz incorrectly claims that “Caslon took particular care to preserve the uniformity of his letterforms when producing different sizes….” In her survey of modern versions of Caslon she says that Big Caslon “exaggerates the contrast between thick and thin strokes”, overlooking the fact that Carter based his design on Caslon’s three largest sizes.
Saltz’s essay concludes with the sort of pablum that is far too common in the Archive: “Caslon is ideally suited to a wide range of contemporary design uses.”
Musical Notation (ﬁve-line stave) | unknown | information design | unknown | c. 1750
The date of c. 1750 is odd since the back contains three examples of ﬁve-line stave music notation that are much earlier (e.g. c. 1510, c. 1538 and 1679). Furthermore, Choi says that such notation had become common around 1200 due to the increase of polyphonic music. So why does this entry even exist in the Archive? Choi states that, “In 1756 Pierre-Simon Fournier [le jeune] published a specimen of a new character font [sic] for music to appear as if printed by copperplate engraving but instead using movable type. It was at this point that music notation started to appear as it does today.” Yet, there is no image of Fournier’s innovation. More importantly, there is no mention of J.G.I. Breitkopf’s innovations with movable type for music scores in 1754.
Most of Choi’s text is taken up with general comments about time signatures and other notations—all undated—rather than with the ﬁve-line stave. The technical difﬁculties behind setting music typographical go unremarked.
L’Encyclopédie | Denis Diderot, Jean Le Rond d’Alembert and Louis-Jacques Goussier | book | André le Breton | 1752–1772
There are no captions. Who needs them when all six images (one on the front and ﬁve on the back) are clearly from the Encylopédie? They are needed to identify the illustrations whose own captions are in French—the front image shows “Paulmerie, Jeu de Paulme et Construction de la Raquette”—and, in the case of the back images, reproduced far too small to see without a magnifying glass. One of the small images on the back is of “L’Imprimerie en Lettres” which is typesetting and not printing. Given the readership of the Archive as principally graphic designers, it would have been a better image for the front—or the pages on typefounding or calligraphy which are not shown here. The image labeled “Ecole de dessein” is not immediately clear as the view of a drawing school, but I was able to locate it in The Encyclopedia of Diderot & d’Alembert Collaborative Translation Project.
Vienne’s text is good overall, though she fails to put the Encyclopédie into its Enlightenment context or to mention Chambers Cyclopaedia which inspired it. Her focus on artist Louis-Jacques Goussier is very welcome.
[*her name is not accented in the Archive]
Join, or Die | Benjamin Franklin | symbol | self-commissioned |1754
Why excerpt the “Join, or Die” symbol on the front when it is reproduced in context from The Pennsylvania Gazette (1754) on the back—or vice versa? An opportunity to show the famous Gadsden flag with the motto “Don’t Tread on Me” beneath a coiled rattlesnake has been lost, even though McQuiston mentions it. Neither are the other variations of Franklin’s design that McQuiston notes shown.
It is surprising for McQuiston to describe Franklin as a “writer, politician, scientist, wit” before mentioning that he was a printer since that is what he considered himself to be ﬁrst and foremost.
Baskerville | John Baskerville | typeface | Baskerville Type Foundry |1757
The front image, of “A Specimen by John Baskerville of Birmingham”, is a good one, though it is uncredited. This is signiﬁcant because there are other versions of specimens by Baskerville besides the one from 1757—Columbia University has one from 1754! 1757 is not the year that Baskerville completed the design of his roman type, but the year that it ﬁrst appeared in a book. But this is not information provided by Saltz who spends most of her time describing Baskerville type as it is known from 20th c. revivals. There is no mention of Baskerville’s background as a penman and japanner; the influence of pointed pen interpretations of roman letters on the appearance of his type (see plate 20 in Natural Writing by George Shelley ); or the role of John Handy, Baskerville’s punchcutter.
Despite Saltz’s emphasis on the details of Baskerville type, there are no images of the type on its own (either Baskerville’s original design or any of the modern versions). The three images on the back are of spreads from two books by Baskerville (Holy Bible, 1763 and De Rerum Natura, 1772)—neither of which are among his most celebrated productions—that emphasize title layouts over text showings.
Saltz’s statement that Baskerville “fell out of use with the advent of Bodoni and Didot” betrays a lack of understanding about Baskerville’s types. Despite the title block information there was no such entity as the Baskerville Type Foundry. Baskerville’s types, more than Caslon’s deserve to be called “self-commissioned” as they were designed for his own use (though he did sell some later). Once he died they were bought by Beaumarchais, the French playwright. They did not fall out of favor since they had never been in favor. Prior to their revival in the 20th c. by ATF and Monotype (neither of which is noted by Saltz who instead cites ITC New Baskerville, Berthold Baskerville Book and Mrs. Eaves)—only a handful of people, such as Benjamin Franklin and Giambattista Bodoni, admired them.
Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy | Laurence Sterne | book | self-commissioned | 1759–1767
[no author listed]
The front image of the spread from Tristram Shandy with the lines illustrating the meandering nature of the story is an excellent choice. The three spreads on the back, including the famous “Alas, poor YORICK!” page in black, are also well chosen. The captions list volumes but not page numbers—though they are clearly visible in the images.
The opening sentence, which takes up the entire paragraph, is overly long. But the rest of the uncredited essay is good. Although the author stresses Sterne’s hands-on approach to the production of the book, there is no identiﬁcation of the mix of faces that “are mixed together or interspersed with pictograms”. Or how the marbling page (image no. 2 on the back) was achieved in the era of letterpress. Was it a tip-in?
Manuel Typographique | Pierre-Simon Fournier le jeune | book | Jean Josèphe Barbou | 1764
The front image—the title page spread from Manuel Typographique—should be rotated and enlarged. More importantly, the three spreads and two fold-out pages from the Manuel on the back need to be bigger to properly appreciate Fournier’s typefaces, ornaments and music notation [which, contrary to Choi’s claim in A011, only have four staves in the pages shown].
Michaelson, in “testifying to Fournier’s extraordinary innovation”, makes two claims that are incorrect. One is that the Manuel “was the ﬁrst book to discuss the type-cutter’s art”, but she ignores Joseph Moxon’s Mechanick Exercises on the Whole Art of Printing (1683) which contains chapters on “The Art of Letter-Cutting” and “The Art of Mold-Making, Sinking the Matrices, Casting and Dressing of Printing-Letters”. The other is that Fournier devised the ﬁrst point system when he was preceded in this by Father Sébastien Truchet. Although she enumerates his work with fleurons and music notation, she makes no glosses over his importance as a designer of roman, italic, decorated and script typefaces.
Didot | Firmin Didot | typeface | Didot Foundry | c. 1784
The front image (uncaptioned) is of the title page of Specimens des Nouveaux Caractères de la Fonderie et de l’Imprimerie de P. Didot, l’Ainé (1819). The foundry was run by Pierre Didot, Firmin’s elder brother, and the typefaces shown in it (such as the one on the title page) were cut by Vibert. Image no. 2 on the back, La Henriade (1819), was published by the Imprimerie de Firmin Didot—the proper name of his ﬁrm rather than “Didot Type Foundry”, while image no. 3, Quintus Horatius Flaccus (1799), was published by Pierre Didot not the Didot Type Foundry and the year was not 1800. The other two images are are also problematic. Image no. 1 is merely labeled “Character Set”, but for what? Presumably Firmin Didot’s 1784 typeface, the date generally assigned to the ﬁrst “modern” typeface. The letters bear features associated with the Romain du Roi (bilateral top serifs on ascenders, a tick on l), but that predecessor is not noted by Saltz. Image no. 4 is described as “La Henriade, 1819 compared with Adrian Frutiger’s Linotype Didot version, 1991” but the two text blocks are neither the same in content nor in size—and they are both too small to make any judgement about the latter.
“The name Didot refers to a group of typefaces designed by Firmin Didot… around 1784,” says Saltz. She is right about the collective aspect of the name, but not the date. Firmin Didot’s most distinctive types—such as those used by Pierre Didot for his edition of Horace and that in La Henriade, Frutiger’s model, were cut years later.
Saltz writes, “Both the Bodoni and Didot typefaces took inspiration from John Baskerville’s experimentation with increased contrast in letterforms and more vertical stress.” She ignores the influence of pointed-pen calligraphy and engraved lettering. “In its rational and objective character, Didot embodied the spirit of the Enlightenment, although partly owing to a dearth of Didot fonts it was ultimately Bodoni that came to dominate the modern typographic landscape.” This statement requires some context. The dearth of Didot that she is referring to was in 20th c. United States and England prior to the 1990s. European countries had access to versions of Didot from Ludwig & Mayer or Deberny & Peignot.
The essay concludes with unnecessary puffery about Jonathan Hoefler: “His graceful interpretation [HTF Didot] can be seen in fashionable advertisements, shop window displays, cosmetics packaging and magazine mastheads.”
• “Didone” is used to describe Didot’s types but the term is not explained.
Commercial and Political Atlas | William Playfair | book | self-commissioned | 1786
The front image of the chart showing Exports and Imports of England should be rotated. A better image, though, would be either the chart of the National Debt of England—which Dobraszcyk singles out—or the one on the Annual Revenues of England and France, both illustrated on the back. They, and two other charts on the back, are reproduced too small to be examined. They are small because they are displayed as spreads from the Commercial and Political Atlas rather than just single pages. There are no captions to help identify each one which would be useful since their titles are hard to read.
Songs of Innocence and of Experience | William Blake | book | self-commissioned | 1789–1794
The images chosen are excellent, especially no. 1 on the back, the relief-etched copper plate used in the production of Songs of Innocence (1789).
Rapp’s text is very good, though he does not explain why the book took ﬁve years to produce.
Man of Letters, or Pierrot’s Alphabet | unknown | typeface | Bowles & Carver | 1794
Rapp’s text is generally good, though he does not explain why this pictorial alphabet above all others deserves to be included in the Archive. The back contains an earlier alphabet by Giacomo Franco (1596). He acknowledges that pictorial alphabets “have existed since the Renaissance”, but overlooks Medieval precursors such as the late 14th c. alphabet by Giovanni de’ Grassi (Cassaf. 1.21, Civico Biblioteca ‘Angelo Mai’, Bergamo). Rapp does note that Pierrot’s Alphabet contains rhyming couplets, but not that this is unusual. He also does not explain why there are only 24 letters instead of 26 (J and U are missing). But what most fascinates me about the alphabet—and goes unremarked by Rapp—is that Pierrot is acting out script capitals instead of the traditional roman ones. He is also doing so without the aid of other ﬁgures or props such as scarves, elongated slippers, walking sticks and umbrellas.
The front image should be rotated. Instead of two pre-20th c. examples of other pictorial alphabets on the back, Phaidon should have considered Anton Beeke’s “Nude Alphabet” of 1969 which Rapp alludes to but does not name. Or it could have shown a non-ﬁgurative pictorial alphabet such as G. Engelmann’s celebrated “Landscape Alphabet” (1830).
Rapp mentions Karel Teige’s Abeceda (1926) alphabet but there is no indication that it exists elsewhere in the Archive as E031, which points up the need for cross-referencing among the cards.
• Despite the Phaidon ban, Rapp quotes Max Bruinsma.
• Pierrot’s Alphabet is not a typeface. Phaidon should have either excluded it or devised a category title that is more accurate and inclusive.
Bodoni | Giambattista Bodoni | typeface | Ferdinand I, Duke of Parma | 1798
The front image, a spread taken from the Manuale Tipograﬁco of 1818 (but not credited as such), should be either be rotated and enlarged or only the recto should be shown since the verso is blank. The three images on the back are all poorly chosen. Image no. 1, described incorrectly as a specimen sheet, is p. 26 from Encyclopedia of Type Faces by Jaspert, Berry & Johnson (presumably from the 1974 edition), showing Monotype Bodoni Bold Condensed, Mergenthaler Linotype Bodoni Bold Condensed and four weights of Haas Bodoni. None of these particular modern cuts of Bodoni are important, but if they were they should have been identiﬁed in the caption and noted in the text. Image no. 2, correctly labeled simply as a specimen sheet, shows Ludlow True-Cut Bodoni taken from an unidentiﬁed Ludlow Typograph catalogue. If Phaidon wanted to show modern versions of Bodoni it should have examples of ATF Bodoni and/or Bauer Bodoni, the two most influential interpretations. The ﬁnal image on the back is described as “Vita Nuova by Dante Alighieri, 1925”. Why this is here is a puzzle until one realizes that it an edition printed by Giovanni Mardersteig at his Ofﬁcina Bodoni with text set in type cast from original Bodoni matrices in the Museo Bodoniano. But the average reader of the Archive is unlikely to know this. Phaidon should have used the space on the back to show multiple images of Giambattista’s own typefaces so that it would be clear that there is no such single thing as “Bodoni type”.
Saltz falls into this trap: “Bodoni is an elegant and highly stylized, non-calligraphic font that represented its neoclassical era.” And: “Because Bodoni worked on his typeface over the course of his lifetime, constantly reﬁning and adjusting letterforms, its design details vary, and it could be argued that there is no deﬁnitive version.” There is no deﬁnitive “Bodoni” type because there were, among his romans, over 200 of them, some of which are reﬁnements of earlier ones, but most of which are distinctly different.
Saltz is mistaken on several other points: “In creating Bodoni, the Italian type designer and printer was undoubtedly influenced by the slightly earlier type designs of the Didot family, notably Firmin Didot…; but Bodoni was from the outset more widely used [than Didot], probably because its forms were extensively circulated and replicated.” This is a conflation of the historical Bodoni and 20th c. Bodoni types. Bodoni’s types were made for his own use at the Stamperia Reale and under his own imprint Co’ Tipi Bodoniana. They were only sold occasionally during his lifetime. Meanwhile, Firmin Didot’s types were commercially sold and used in French publishing from the late 18th century through the 19th century. It is only in the 20th century that more versions of Bodoni than of Didot have circulated.
Saltz continues to conflate the historical Bodoni and Didot with modern interpretations of their typefaces (none of which are speciﬁcally identiﬁed): “…Bodoni’s construction is more substantial than Didot’s, with a slightly narrower set width….” And: “Both Bodoni and Didot advanced the ideas of John Baskerville… by pushing their typefaces to extremes of thick and thin, and using flat, unbracketed serifs.” Most 20th c. versions of Bodoni have unbracketed serifs but many of the types cut by Bodoni himself are bracketed.
This problem of mixing up historical typefaces and their modern incarnations is bedevils all of Phaidon’s entries on typefaces before 1900: Bembo, Caslon, Baskerville, Didot, Bodoni and Clarendon.
• The date for “Bodoni” should not be 1798. If a single date has to be chosen—which is not recommended—the best one would be 1788, the year Bodoni issued his Serie di Maiuscole e Caratteri Cancellaresche, which marked a shift in his style from that of Fournier to a clearly neoclassical one.
• For Bodoni’s types—as opposed to his books—the client category should say “self-commissioned” rather than “Ferdinand I, Duke of Parma”.
• ATF Bodoni was completed and released in 1910 not 1911.
• There are no designers credited for ITC Bodoni and no release date. The face, issued in 1994, was cooperatively designed by Sumner Stone, Holly Goldsmith, Janice Prescott and Jim Parkinson.
• Saltz’ description of Filosoﬁa as “a more geometric version” of Bodoni seems odd.
• “Museo Bodoniana” should be “Museo Bodoniano”
• “didone” here but “Didone” in A017 Didot; the term also remains unexplained. It is a conflation of “Didot” and “Bodoni” coined by Maximilien Vox as a category in his 1954 type classiﬁcation scheme.