Blue Pencil no. 48—One Hundred Books Famous in Typography, Part 11 [notes on the images]
Notes on the images
In the previous Blue Pencil posts on One Hundred Books Famous in Typography my comments on each entry in the book included descriptions of the accompanying illustrations. I provided information that should have been in captions, suggested alternative choices, noted differences with the pages on display in the exhibition, and pointed out alterations to the original image. It is this latter point that I wish to discuss here.
If my eye is correct—and I may be wrong on one or two items, but certainly not on the majority of them—a cream or beige flat of color has been added to the illustrations of thirty entries, nearly a third of the “one hundred books famous in typography”: nos. 12A, 15, 18, 19, 24, 26, 30, 31, 33, 35, 37, 40, 41, 48, 48A, 58, 59, 61, 62, 65, 68, 69, 70, 71A, 74, 75, 87, 88, 90, and 94. These flats are different from the natural paper colors of items like nos. 3, 13, 39, or 45.
There is precedence for what Kelly has done and some justification for the process. Stanley Morison used off-white/cream/ochre in several books: Four Centuries of Fine Printing (London: Ernest Benn, 1924) (no. 57), Modern Fine Printing (London: Ernest Benn, 1925) (no. 57A), and The Typographic Book, 1450–1935: A Study of Fine Typography through Five Centuries (London: Ernest Benn, 1963). (The latter was co-written with Kenneth Day.) Deep yellow and pale blue tints were applied to many illustrations in The Advertising Designs of Walter Dorwin Teague compiled and edited by Clarence P. Hornung (New York: Art Direction Book Company, 1991), designed by Leslie Cabarga. And Kelly himself has previously added color to some illustrations in several books he has written and designed: e.g. The First Flowering: Bruce Rogers at the Riverside Press, 1896–1912 (Boston: David R. Godine, Publisher, 2008) and About More Alphabets: The Types of Hermann Zapf (Rochester, New York: RIT Cary Graphic Arts Press and The Typophiles, 2011).
The usual rationale for adding a background color to an illustration of a page from a book is to clearly separate it from the white paper of the book it is reproduced in. Other methods have been employed for this purpose: adding a thin rule or dotted line to indicate the edges of the page or printing a contrasting colored (usually gray or black) background. Kelly used a thin rule for the illustrations in The Art of the Book in the Twentieth Century (Rochester, New York: RIT Cary Graphic Arts Press, 2011). His mentor Joseph Blumenthal used a dashed rule in Bruce Rogers: A Life in Letters, 1870–1957 (Austin, Texas: W. Thomas Taylor, 1989) and in Typographic Years: A Printer’s Journey Through a Half Century 1925–1975 (New York: Frederic C. Beil, 1982).  An example of the contrasting color approach is L’Effet Gutenberg by Fernand Baudin (Paris: Editions du Cercle de la Librairie, 1994) where a solid black background makes the white pages of the books being discussed jump out.  A more recent method has been to photograph books in color, showing the curvature of their pages and the shadows they cast. For an example of this, see W.A. Dwiggins: A Life in Design by Bruce Kennett (San Francisco: Letterform Archive, 2017)
Some book designers have changed the original colors of book pages, magazine pages and ephemeral reproduced in a book. This was done by Ruari McLean in his two books on the typographer Jan Tschichold. In Jan Tschichold: Typographer (Boston: David R. Godine, Publisher, 1975), several images have a rose, deep yellow, or orange grounds; and some have grounds created by tints and overlays of one or more of these colors. Different colors—even for the same item—appear in Jan Tschichold: A Life in Typography (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1997). An example is the book jacket for Die Flucht aus der Zeit by Hugo Ball (Luzern: Josef Stocker, 1946) which is reproduced in black and red on a tan background in the 1975 book (p. 84) and in black and orange on a mauve background in the 1997 book (p. 71).  In both instances McLean’s caption reads: “Original printed in black and red on ochre paper.” The 1975 image is fairly close to the original design while the 1997 one is completely wrong.
Postscripts on Dwiggins: Essays & Recollections edited by Paul A Bennett (New York: The Typophiles, 1960) (2 volumes) included a color insert showcasing a range of W.A. Dwiggins’ graphic design work. During the book’s development, Dorothy Abbe (1909–1999) via Mabel H. Dwiggins (Dwiggins’ widow) (1881–1968) voiced concerns about the ability to properly reproduce the unusual colors associated with Dwiggins’ designs.  Bennett (1897–1966), the editor of the book, knew that it would be too expensive to accurately reproduce Dwiggins’ wide variety of colors in a letterpress book. George Salter (1897–1967), the book’s designer, agreed. He told Bennett, “Dwiggins’ colors are largely bright pastels: greens, purples, pinks and blues…. The pastel colors are Dwiggins’ stencil colors and they are important.”  After some back-and-forth, it was agreed that Salter would use five colors (a pastel green, a dark blue, a rich red, and a bronze along with black) and add a disclaimer to the insert which was printed offset. The disclaimer, signed G.S., reads: “To approximate in five printings the diverse color grouping used by Dwiggins for his various enterprises made necessary a modification of some of his original colors. In no case has the change affected important elements of design.”  For anyone familiar with Dwiggins’ work, that last sentence is questionable (e.g. the jacket for The Sea of Grass looks entirely different in crimson and celadon green than in the original light violet and fir green).
Both McLean and Salter were trying to add some color (literally) to images that would otherwise have been reproduced as tones of gray. They were both constrained by the economics of printing and publishing. Salter had the luxury of five spot colors, but all of the images had to be ganged up in a single signature. McLean only had three colors at his disposal, but he made the most of them by changing them from signature to signature as well as using tints and overprinting. Similarly, the publishers of the Walter Dorwin Teague book mentioned above tried to jazz up black-and-white illustrations by adding yellow and blue tints in various places (sometimes for only part of an image). To their credit, they owned up to this questionable practice in a note on the copyright page: “The second color backgrounds in this book are the creation of Art Direction Books and were not part of the original black and white illustrations of Walter D. Teague.”
What sets Kelly apart from these examples is that nowhere in One Hundred Books Famous in Typography does he admit to adding tonal flats to images or defend the practice. The tonal flats he has added are not as visually egregious as the changes made by Salter, McLean, or Cabarga. They do not significantly change the perception of how any of the book pages look. The flats appear to have been done for aesthetic reasons—to make a better looking book by having more tonal harmony with the books whose pages were reproduced in full color. This would explain his decision not to indicate page sizes with outlines of one kind or another. But there are subtle differences between pages reproduced photographically and those reproduced in line art with added tones. With the former the grain of the paper is often noticeable as are flaws such as foxing or stains. Variations in the color of the paper, show-through, and shadows in the gutter are evident. In contrast pages reproduced with tonal flats have an even color with no sense of texture. Compare the true colors of no. 13 Gallorvm Insvbrvm Antiqvae Sedes by Bonaventura Castiglione (Milano: G.A. Castiglione, 1541), no. 21 La Science Pratique de l’Imprimerie by Martin Dominique Fertel, or no. 34 The History of Printing in America by Isaiah Thomas to the flat colors of no. 19 Mechanick Exercises by Joseph Moxon and no. 35 Manuale Tipografico by Giambattista Bodoni.
The real problem with Kelly’s use of flats lies in the specific nature of One Hundred Books Famous in Typography. Throughout the book, he stresses the provenance of the books under discussion. The specific edition of a book—and sometimes the specific copy—is important. Yet, the images he displays for no. 19 Mechanick Exercises and of no. 75 Finer Points in the Spacing & Arrangement of Type do not match the specific editions described in his headers. (See Blue Pencil no. 48, Part 3 and Blue Pencil no. 48, Part 7.) His three illustrations of no. 35 Bodoni’s Manuale Tipografico all have their folios scrubbed and the folio is also missing from the illustration for no. 18 Linguae Hebraicae Institutiones Absolutissimae. The caption for no. 24 Imprimerie Nationale Catalogue [sic] has been erased or cropped out. The image for no. 21 La Science Pratique de l’Imprimerie by Martin Dominique Fertel (1723) is the title page of the 1741 edition.
There are other discrepancies between some illustrations in One Hundred Books Famous in Typography and other copies of those books. The shade of red in no. 58 The Goudy Type Family and no. 69 A Tally of Types has been changed. (The red of no. 62 Futura: The Type of Today … and Tomorrow [sic] also looks different, but I have only seen another copy via a scan and cannot be absolutely sure.) Even stranger, the black Oxford University Press mark on the title page of no. 61 Catalogue of Specimens of Printing Types by English and Scottish Printers and Founders 1665–1830 is now terracotta. (See Blue Pencil no. 48, Part 6.) The colors of the items in no. 90 FUSE 1 are different from those in photographs of the diskette, mailer, and manifesto. They seem to have been altered to make a more harmonious image.
Although adding color to artwork has been done before, it is less acceptable today. In the past it was usually driven by budgetary concerns and technical limitations. Digital photography and full color printing today make such compromises unnecessary.
More serious than the unacknowledged use of altered images is the substitution of images from one book for another. This is the case with no. 32 A Specimen of Printing Types and Various Ornaments and no. 38 Specimen of Old-Style Types. (See Blue Pencil no. 48, Part 4 and Blue Pencil no. 48, Part 5 for the details of these falsified images.) Kelly has partially hidden the true origins of the images for both books by overlapping them and thus obscuring crucial information. For no. 32 the typeface Small Pica No. 3 on Long Primer Body at the bottom of the page headed “Small Pica, No. 1” is completely covered up. It and Two Lines Great Primer (shown on the page in the foreground) are styles of type that did not exist in 1796. These are clues that led to the identification of the pages as from Specimen of Printing Type from the Letter Foundry of James Ronaldson, Successor to Binny & Ronaldson… (Philadelphia: J. Ronaldson, 1816).
The two pages chosen to illustrate Specimen of Old-Style Types (c.1868) show Grotesque No. 4 and “Specimens of Figures” (numerals from Ionic No. 2, Ionic No. 3, Expanded Titling, Grotesque No. 2, and Albion). In overlapping them, the folio of the page in the background is masked. However, the other folio is visible. It is the key to the identification of Printing Type Specimens: Comprising a Large Variety of Book and Jobbing Faces, Borders and Ornaments (Edinburgh and London: Miller & Richard, [1921?]) as the source of both pages (pp. 225 and 382). The peculiar chartreuse tinge of the images suggests that Kelly took them directly from the digitized Internet Archive copy of the type specimen book rather than from a physical copy.
The “extra” images in One Hundred Books Famous in Typography are those included to confirm a special aspect of provenance. There are twenty-three of them: nos. 11, 26, 29, 33, 35, 39, 41, 44, 45, 52 (two), 57, 61, 68, 71, 77, 81, 82, 84, 85, 91, 92, and 94. With the exception of a detail of a letter from a publisher (no. 85 Nicholas Kis), they are either bookplates (11) or inscriptions (11). An additional inscription appears on the cover of no. 76 Printing and the Mind of Man.
One of these extra images (no. 29 Spécimen des Nouveaux Caractères de la Fonderie et de l’Imprimerie de P. Didot, l’Ainé) is incorrectly identified in the provenance note. Another book (no. 19 Mechanick Exercises) is missing visual evidence of its provenance because Kelly has substituted a different copy of the title page. (See Blue Pencil no. 48, Part 3.)
Kelly’s single-column format with either one or two illustrations on a page fails to account for these small and often oddly shaped extra images. As a result, they are strewn about the book in a random manner. Their positioning on the page jumps about from the left of the “provenance” note to the right or even below it. Sometimes it is flush to the “provenance” note and at other times it is flush to the right edge of the text block; most of the time the “provenance” note is a line space below the text block, yet in no. 84 it is two lines below. In nos. 35, 81, 82, and 85 the bookplates are run-in to the text block, but in no. 61 there was no room on the text page and the bookplate appears on the recto, partially covering the lower left corner of the title page of Catalogue of Specimens of Printing Types by English and Scottish Printers and Founders 1665–1830. This is not design. It is desperation. (See Blue Pencil no. 48, Part 6.)
Are these extra images really needed in the book? is it crucial for the reader to see the bookplates of Daniel Berkeley Updike, John Sparrow, Will Ransom, Robert Bringhurst, or David R. Godine (reproduced four times with nos. 33, 39, 91, and 94, but not with no. 100 which he also loaned) or the inscriptions? None of the latter add information pertinent to the books themselves. They are all anodyne and the publisher’s letter is worthless.
1. The Art of the Book in the Twentieth Century is printed in black-and-white with red, blue, and yellow spot colors used for some illustrations to approximate the original colors. It follows Bruce Rogers: A Life in Letters, 1870–1957 which is printed in black-and-white with red, turquoise, and orange spot colors used for some illustrations to approximate the original colors.
2. L’Effet Gutenberg is printed entirely in black-and-white with the images from historical works reproduced in halftone so the pages are actually shades of gray rather than the pure white of the coated stock.
3. In both books McLean incorrectly gives the date of Die Flucht aus der Zeit by Hugo Ball as 1944. The 1946 date is supported by WorldCat and the Nachlass Jan Tschichold, Deutsche National Bibliothek, Leipzig.
4. See Mabel H. Dwiggins to Paul A. Bennett 24 July 1957 in Folder—Postscripts on Dwiggins Correspondence 1–15 July 1957, Box 6, Rudolph Ruzicka Collection (UP-66), Rauner Special Collections Library, Dartmouth College.
Dorothy mentioned a feature of your plans for colored reproductions of William’s designs, in the forthcoming book, that has worried me a little. I realize that printing and budget difficulties make exact reproduction impossible. And when you are using only one color on plain paper it wouldn’t matter so much. But I think it would not be right to reproduce a multi-colored design with any other colors than his own.
Because he never used color just to ‘prettify’. A pattern of colors was just as carefully designed as everything else he did. The combination and arrangement of colors was a Dwiggins design in itself, and no other arrangement should be labeled his ….
I appreciate your wish to make the page look gay, as he was so fond of doing. But you have no idea how much trouble he took over the color combinations. Many of them were unusual and even startling to the conventional eye. But they were essential “Dwiggins’, and it seems to me a modification of them should not be displayed as Dwiggins.
Although the letter was signed by Mabel, it was typewritten and Rudolph Ruzicka believed it has been dictated by Dorothy Abbe. Based on the writing style, I would agree. See Rudolph Ruzicka to Bennett 6 August 1957 and Ruzicka to Bennett 12 August 1957 in Folder—Postscripts on Dwiggins Correspondence August 1957, Box 6, Rudolph Ruzicka Collection (UP-66), Rauner Special Collections Library, Dartmouth College. In the second letter Ruzicka says, “Just to tell you, privately, that Mrs. D. [Mabel H. Dwiggins] is well aware of Dorothy’s pretentious meddling which she resents. She will be satisfied with a note about the colors used in the Salter insert.”
5. See Paul A. Bennett to Herbert Simpson 27 February 1957 in Folder—Postscripts on Dwiggins Correspondence 16–28 February 1957, Box 6, Rudolph Ruzicka Collection (UP-66), Rauner Special Collections Library, Dartmouth College; and George Salter to Bennett 27 July 1957 in Folder—Postscripts on Dwiggins Correspondence 1–5 July 1957, Box 6, Rudolph Ruzicka Collection (UP-66), Rauner Special Collections Library, Dartmouth College.
6. The disclaimer appears at the bottom of p. p. (The insert pages are all lettered, rather than numbered). The insert was printed offset by the Colorgraphic Offset Company.
Addendum: Reproducing Type Specimens
Stanley Morison, in his John Bell, 1745–1831: Bookseller, Printer, Publisher, Typefounder, Journalist, &c. (Cambridge [England]: Printed for the author at the University Press, 1930) makes this astonishing statement:
For certain of the above and other illustrations in the text, careful resetting in type-facsimile has been preferred as presenting a closer approximation to the typographical originals than is given by reproductive methods based on photography. p. xi
Although he is coy about which illustrations have been faked—the only appropriate word for what he has done—they are clearly “Specimen of the first Set of Types” (May, 1788), “English Roman,” “English Italic,” and the four pages of “Address to the World” (July 1, 1788) between pp. 16 and 17; and the fold-out sheet “A Catalogue of Books in Quires being the Stock of Mr. John Bell” (1793) inserted between pp. 42 and 43. The samples of Bell’s type on pp. 143–157 are genuine. The facsimiles were made using the newly cut Monotype Bell (shown on p. 17 as “John Bell’s Type… English Roman… English Italic”).
Morison’s use of reset facsimiles may have been necessitated by the limitations of reproduction in the age of letterpress as he implied, but I suspect his decision was due more to financial constraints and the urge to promote Monotype Bell. If he had truly desired to properly reproduce Bell’s work photographically he could have used collotype tip-ins or the 400-line halftone process perfected by the Baltimore printer Norman T.A. Munder (1867–1953) as early as 1915. (See “Norman T.A. Munder: A Brief Sketch of the Career of a Famous Baltimore Printer” by Robert L. Leslie in PM vol. 3, no. 12 (whole no. 36) (August 1937), unpaginated.) As it is, his “type-facsimiles” are not entirely accurate (e.g. see the line breaks of the two “English Roman” specimens reproduced above.)