Blue Pencil no. 44—The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design: the box reconsidered

Today, the front flap of my copy of The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design suddenly fell off. I have had the box open for the past few weeks while preparing this series of Blue Pencil posts, but I never expected the flap to be so fragile that it couldn’t bear the strain of being folded down for so long. It was attached to the front with only a few dabs of glue. For now the lid is still intact.

This circumstance reminds me that I have been meaning to point out that the Archive lacks a bookmark. A bookmark or a placeholder of some kind would be very useful for being able to return a card quickly and easily to its original location after it has been taken out. While preparing my Blue Pencil posts I have resorted to shoving pieces of corrugated cardboard—their thickness helps them stand out—between the sheets to mark my place.

Recently, I realized that I already owned something similar to the Archive. In 1986 Linotype GmbH published the LinoTypeCollection: Mergenthaler Type Library / Mergenthaler Schriftenbibliothek / Typothèque Mergenthaler, a type specimen. Instead of printing the usual thick book, they printed individual sheets for each typeface (which at that time were still pre-digital) and housed them in a set of six acrylic boxes. A trolley—with a second shelf for additional items—was offered as a “compact, neat and mobile” way to store the boxes, though they are modestly sized and would comfortably fit on a bookshelf.  The types are arranged alphabetically within typeface classification categories based on the German DIN system. The categories are color-coded. Along with the sheets there is an introductory booklet that explains how to use the sheets, including a detailed breakdown of the various elements on each, as well as information on the classification scheme and the sizing of typefaces. And there are multiple bookmarks. The design is credited to Heinz Richter. Although the sheets and the bookmarks are not very sturdy (some are dinged up), the LinoTypeCollection—which I still use as a reference—has proven to be more durable than the Archive.