Blue Pencil no. 22 second addendum—More about Monotype Melior

Recently Nikolaus Weichelsbaumer sent me a PDF titled WRU+1, a collection of photocopied documents about the origins of the Association Typographique Internationale (ATypI) and its Code Moral assembled by Hermann Zapf. Near the end of the PDF there are a number of items that shed additional light on how Melior [sic] ended up on monotype machines beyond what I was able to report in September 2014. (See Blue Pencil no. 22 addendum—The Mystery of Monotype Melior.)

WRU+1 pp. 169–179 represent a collection of letters and documents tracing the origins of Lanston 125 (manufactured by the Lanston Monotype Company in the United States) and attempts by Hermann Zapf and D. Stempel AG to block the typeface’s distribution. In a letter dated March 10, 1965, Erich Schulz-Anker, the “Künstlerische Leitung [artistic director] der D. Stempel AG,” alerts Zapf to the production of “eine glatte Copie der Melior” [“a blatant copy of Melior”] by the Lanston Monotype Company. (p. 169) He says that he has written to Lanston for more information on this design. The PDF has no response from Lanston. Instead, what comes next is a somewhat bizarre letter (dated April 19, 1965) from R.K. Ansell, Executive Vice President of Amsterdam Continental Types and Graphic Equipment, who writes:

I definitely feel that the introduction of Lanston’s new type face which resemble [sic] the Melior will not prove a serious threat to the sales of Melior. If anything at all, it could have a favorable effect on the popularity of the series. It is of interest to note that the installations of Monotype equipment in the United States is negligible. Here in New York City the main center of the industry, there are only 8 Monotype plants. Even these 8 plants have since 1950 found it adviseable [sic] to install either Intertype or Linotype equipment.…

The major concern in this case is the lack of legal protection of ownership rights, which regrettably makes it almost impossible to get satisfactory results against an act if this kind. (p. 170)

At this point the documents shift to a series of letters—among Mike Parker of Mergenthaler Linotype, Dr. R. Hörter of Linotype GmbH, John Dreyfus of the Monotype Corporation and a co-founder of ATypI, Charles Peignot of Deberny & Peignot and president of ATypI—aimed at getting ATypI to make some kind of a ruling against Lanston. Hörter wrote to Peignot on May 19, 1965 lodging a formal complaint. He describes Lanston 125 as “eine klare und eindeutige Kopie unserer MELIOR.” [“a clear and unambiguous copy of our Melior.”] He goes on to state that, “Eine derartiges Plagiat zwischen Mitglieden der A.TYP.I verstößt unseres Erachtens gegen die Grundideen dieser Vereingung….” [“Such a plagiarism between members of ATypI violates, in our opinion, the basic ideas of this association….”] Hörter concludes that ATyPI must take steps against Lanston or the existence of such an association as ATypI would no longer be justified. (p. 173)

What happened next is unknown since the last letter in the chain, from Dreyfus to Hörter on May 21, 1965, simply kicks the matter to Peignot.

The present members of the Commission des Caracteres [sic] are MM. [Adrian] Frutiger, [G.W.] Ovink and [Walter] Tracy, with myself as President. In view of the fact that Tracy and I have connections with Linotype and Monotype organisations (although not the two organisations responsible for manufacturing either Melior or Lanston 125), I will ask our President, Monsieur Charles Peignot, whether he would prefer this particular matter to be considered by a specially appointed committee, whose members could not be considered in any way influenced by their commercial activities. (p. 179)

Given that Lanston 125 was sold after 1965, ATypI clearly took no action against the Lanston Monotype Company.

I want to thank Nikolaus Weichelsbaumer for bringing these documents to my attention.