Michael Harvey’s Teaching Notes 1983–1995, part 8C
READING 1995–1999 : Letterforms
The notes reproduced here are scattered throughout the Reading 1995 folder, some together and others on their own. Since Michael’s ﬁle names have not been entirely reliable I have chosen to gang these notes rather than try to guess exactly how they would have ﬁt into his teaching sequence. They are about cutting, carving and engraving letterforms: in linoleum, wood, stone, steel and copper. The techniques bridge the worlds of calligraphy, drawn letters and type design.
Michael divided the engraved letter into three groups: woodcuts, punches and copperplate engravings. His 1999 notes on linocuts, rubberstamps and scraperboard (scratchboard) indicate that he was planning to add them to the techniques he wanted his students to try. They were simple substitutes for materials that may have proved daunting (and expensive) for students: linocuts in place of woodcuts, rubberstamps in place of steel punches, and scraperboard in place of copperplate engraving.
Grouped above are examples of inscriptional letters, both sacred and profane, from Ancient Rome. The central R is an Imperial Roman capital of the kind found on Trajan’s Column. The R in the top line to its right is from a Damasian inscription. It is a letter designed and cut by Dionysus Filocalus for texts honoring Christian martyrs in the mid-4th century. The other letters—a mix of Rustic, Uncial and Square Capital forms—are probably copied by Michael from early Christian gravestones. Note the bow-legged R at the left, a precursor of the letter favored by Eric Gill.