Blue Pencil no. 48—One Hundred Books Famous in Typography, Part 1 [Foreword and Introduction]
Note: When I began this dissection it was intended as a single post—even as it grew much longer than expected. However, I was forced to break it up into smaller chunks when I ran into an unexplained “failure error” while trying to save the draft one day. Rather than try to break up the dissection into equally sized posts based on word counts, I decided instead to make separate posts based on the divisions used in the Grolier Club exhibition for the One Hundred Books Famous in Typography entries; and on divisions in the catalogue for the material that was not part of the exhibition (e.g. foreword, introduction, Fifty Typefaces Famous in Typography, bibliography, etc.). Note that the divisions used in the exhibition itself (e.g. “The Golden Age” or Looking Back”) were abandoned for the catalogue.
One Hundred and Eight Books and Other Printed Items Famous (to Some People) in Printing, Typography, and Type Design
One Hundred Books Famous in Typography: Based on an Exhibition Held at The Grolier Club by Jerry Kelly (New York: The Grolier Club, 2021). With a Foreword by Sebastian Carter.
This Blue Pencil dissection accompanies a critical review of the book, which is billed as a catalogue of an exhibition that took place at the Grolier Club between May 10 and July 31, 2021. It also includes references to the physical exhibition, the brochure produced in conjunction with it, and the continuing online exhibition which deviates from both the physical exhibition and the catalogue. There are peculiar discrepancies among these various iterations of the One Hundred Books Famous in Typography exhibition.
One Hundred Books Famous in Typography, although it will often be referred to in this post as a catalogue, is not a one-to-one account of the exhibition. The brochure, despite being distributed at the Grolier Club during the time One Hundred Books Famous in Typography was on display, is actually a summary of the catalogue more than a guide to the installed exhibition. The online exhibition is organized in the manner of the physical exhibition. Its texts, taken from the physical exhibition, are distilled from the entries in the catalogue—complete with the same errors. However, the images of the physical exhibition, the online exhibition, and the catalogue vary in tiny ways and large ones.
The dissection of One Hundred Books Famous in Typography is much more complex than others in Blue Pencil. My comments on each entry include a wide range of things:
1. corrections of typographical errors, spelling errors, and basic factual errors.
2. corrections of errors of content.
3. comments/critiques of Kelly’s text, indicating areas where he is wrong or either contested as well as instances where he has omitted information of importance. I have attempted to support my contrary opinions with sources. I welcome readers to challenge my information with any that is more recent or more accurate. Like Kelly, I am not an expert in all of the material covered in this catalogue.
4. additional bibliographical information omitted by Kelly.
5. links to copies of any titles that have been digitized and uploaded to the internet.
6. information, to the best of my knowledge, on the typefaces used to set many of the items.
7. a word count of Kelly’s text so that readers can judge whether or not he had ample room to write more about a specific book or person. Kelly’s design allows for a maximum word count of c.530 words.
8. a list of the links to other entries in the catalogue that Kelly includes as well as my suggestions for additional ones.
9. full names and brief information on people that Kelly mentions in passing.
10. links to other websites for further information on people, books, typefaces, and other subjects mentioned either by Kelly or myself.
11. inclusion of the books that Kelly suggests for further reading about each title or subject. However, my comments on his suggestions are included in the back of the book where they appear.
12. my suggestions for additional or alternate readings about each item.
13. suggestions for alternative typefaces to those listed in the section titled Fifty Typefaces Famous in Typography. And, where appropriate, suggestions for typefaces in entries where there is no link in his list.
14. a description of the image or images Kelly has chosen to illustrate each item coupled with information on any differences with what was displayed in the physical exhibition or included in the online exhibition.
15. comments on the choice of image(s).
16. commentary on the design and typography of the catalogue in relation to its impact on the content.
This battery of material has been marshalled to make this dissection instructional and informative as well as critical. Unfortunately, there is some redundancy in my comments as I have tried to group different parts of One Hundred Books Famous in Typography together while at the same time pointing out errors in their original position in the book.
Notes on the Dissection
With only a handful of exceptions, Kelly’s choice of books—within his own self-imposed limits—is generally unassailable. Although some alternate choices are suggested, my focus is on what he has said about each book more than on the merits for their inclusion. In a separate blog post I will propose an alternate approach to assembling a list of essential books about typography.
I have reproduced the headers as Kelly has them with significant additions in red of information that is missing (either due to inconsistency on his part or as an aid to the reader on my part). As indicated in my critique I believe the wording of the headers is horribly inconsistent. Although Kelly’s headers (except for imprint information and format) are set in all caps, I have converted them to upper-and-lowercase.
I have added divider headings taken from the Grolier Club exhibition. Although they would have been useful, they are not in the book. The numbers for each entry were not in the physical exhibition but appear in the brochure available at the Grolier Club, the online exhibition, and the book.
I have provided links to those books which have been digitized and placed online so that anyone desiring to replicate much (though not all) of the One Hundred Books Famous in Typography exhibition at the Grolier Club can see more than one could either in person or in the catalogue.
To the best of my ability I have tried to identify the principal typefaces used to set each of the books on Kelly’s list. Several of my references for Incunabula typefaces have been taken from the online version of the Typenrepertorium der Wiegendrucke of Konrad Haebler Typenrepertorium der Wiegendrucke.
Wherever possible I have tried to identify references Kelly has made in passing. Thus, I have provided the first names of individuals as well as their years of birth and death, spelled out the full titles of books, included additional authors or important contributors, and added details of typefaces, and more. Where I have challenged Kelly’s facts, interpretations, or perspectives, I have furnished my sources. My goal with this dissection has been to do more than simply criticize One Hundred Books Famous in Typography. I have also tried to supply additional information for those interested in typography.
Kelly’s page design allows for a maximum word count of roughly 532 words—based on his longest entry (no. 46 The Monotype Recorder) which has 38 lines averaging 14 words per line. I have indicated the word count of each entry so that readers can see whether or not my criticisms could have been accommodated within the limitations of his catalogue design. For some entries—specifically no. 55 about American Type Founders Company and no. 82 about the International Typeface Corporation—I have written extended commentaries that clearly go beyond both the intent of One Hundred Books Famous in Typography and its design limitations.
I have coupled Kelly’s suggestions for further reading about an entry (now on pp. 315–323) with that entry. His suggestions are not necessarily his sources. Since he has no direct citations and only occasionally mentions a specific scholar, my dissections include guesswork about the exact sources he relied on for his information and conclusions. I have also corrected errors in his citations. Finally, I have added my own suggested readings as alternatives or supplements to his recommendations.
I believe that the illustrations accompanying as many as thirty-three books in One Hundred Books Famous in Typography have been doctored or fudged to some degree. Most of them appear to have had beige-colored flats added to them. (See Blue Pencil no. 48, Part 11 for more on this subject.) These are obvious because there is no evidence of staining, discoloration, foxing, signs of wear and tear, or show-through to the paper. A few images have had their colors subtly changed. And some are not what they purport to be. Although there are aesthetic and practical reasons for some of these alterations, I consider them to be dishonest since Kelly has provided no disclaimers or notices. Two of them rise to the level of intellectual fraud. I have marked the entries whose images I believe have been altered or are otherwise suspect by highlighting their numbers in red and adding an asterisk.
Some critiques about the entries for each title listed in One Hundred Books Famous in Typography apply across the board and are best summarized here rather than repeated over and over again. I have elaborated on many of them in my general critique of the book previously posted online.
• The title of One Hundred Books Famous in Typography emphasizes books, but the entries are often more about people and companies. This explains why a number of Kelly’s texts contain little or no information about the book listed in the header.
• Although One Hundred Books Famous in Typography is billed as a catalogue of the exhibition, the subtitle of the book—Based on an Exhibition Held at The Grolier Club—is actually more accurate. The book includes three books that were not on display at the Grolier Club along with one that was fraudulently labeled while the exhibition included twelve ephemeral items that are not in the book.
• The headers are often misleading. The first line is that of a person or business: authors (50), editors (9), punchcutters (12), type designers (7), printers (11), publishers and printing offices (6), and typefoundries and type manufacturers (12). Several individuals can fit into more than one of these categories making it difficult to know which of their roles takes precedence. Furthermore, not all relevant individual are included for each entry. Dates of birth and death are provided for most people, though not for all. The second line is the author (if not already included in the first line) and title of the book or publication. The third line provides basic publishing information (location, printer, date), the format of the book, and occasionally some other bibliographic information such as edition size. The first two lines are set in all capitals which makes deciphering some titles difficult. It would be better if the birth and death dates of individuals were embedded in the text.• The provenance for seventy-five of the books is provided, with the curator (Kelly) listed for fourteen of them. Although he did not list himself as the lender for the remaining twenty-five books, the online exhibition credits him as such. There are discrepancies between the information about lenders in the online exhibition and the provenance sources in the catalogue. The catalogue lists two lenders who never appear as lenders in the individual entries: Laurie Burns and the Rochester Institute of Technology / Cary Library (see p. 23).
• The sequencing of items in One Hundred Books Famous in Typography is confusing given that the numbering does not represent a ranking of any kind. It is roughly chronological, but not entirely so. At least thirty titles are out of chronological order for no apparent reason. There seems to be no other order (thematic, typological, authorial, stylistic, ideological) at work for these items. The sequencing is simply a muddle.
For example, the sequence of famous punchcutters/type designers from Philippe Grandjean (no. 20) to Giambattista Bodoni (no. 35) is not ordered by the date of their type specimen (or other book), the date of their first typeface, the style of their typefaces, or their nationality. Instead we have this ludicrous sequence: no. 20 Grandjean (1666–1714) with a book published in 1961 (referring to a typeface designed and cut between 1695 and 1702); no. 23 John Baskerville (1706–1775) with a book published in 1757; no. 24 Jean Jannon (1580–1658) with a book published in 1968 (referring to a typeface first shown in 1621); no. 26 Pierre-Simon Fournier (1712–1768) with a two-volume book published 1764–1766; no. 27 Joan Michael Fleischman (1701–1768) with a type specimen published in 1768; no. 29 Firmin Didot (1764–1836) with a type specimen published in 1819 which contains no types cut by him; no. 30 William Caslon (1692–1766) with a type specimen published in 1785 (and no. 30A with a type specimen broadside published in 1734); no. 31 William Martin (c.1765–1815) (not mentioned in the header although he is the subject of the entry) with a book published in 1795; no. 32 Richard Austin (1756–1832) (not mentioned in the header although the types he cut for John Bell are the subject of the entry) with a type specimen published in 1796; and nos. 33 and 35 Giambattista Bodoni (1740–1813) with a book published in 1806 and a two-volume type specimen published posthumously in 1818. Interleaved with these entries are three type specimens (one from a printing office and the other two from typefoundries run by less important punchcutters), one manual of typography, and one history of printing in proper chronological order.
For other instances of odd sequencing see my general critique of One Hundred Books Famous in Typography or simply skim through a copy.
• The entry texts contain no direct references to the accompanying illustrations. The size of the illustrations vis a vis the size of each book is not indicated. Most importantly, there are only four captions in the book, none of which reference the content of an image. The selection of images is disappointing with too many books being represented by title pages (27) or covers (15) rather than by interior pages.
• A common failing of the entry texts is that 1. they often focus on things other than the book supposedly under discussion; or 2. they describe minor aspects of the book while avoiding important ones. Kelly has a frequent tendency to refer to people (from punchcutters to scholars) only by their last names without introducing them first. I counted at least thirty-three such instances, most of them in the entries from nos. 1 to 61.
• The entire Fifty Typefaces Famous in Typography section is a disaster. It is inadequately explained, poorly thought out, and badly executed. (See Blue Pencil no. 48, Part 9 for details.)• At a glance, the design of One Hundred Books Famous in Typography is adequate to the task, though conservative. In my general critique of the book I found many of its elements praiseworthy. However, the more I have examined the contents of the book, the more I have come to realize that its design is only superficially beautiful. At a structural level, I now believe that a number of its overall problems are a direct result of its design. Thus, at the end of Blue Pencil no. 48, Part 11 I have included some comments on the design of One Hundred Books Famous in Typography with an explanation of the impact certain design decisions have had on its content, both textual and visual.
• Finally, a number of recurrent complaints I have about specific entries in One Hundred Books Famous in Typography would be moot if Kelly had been both modest and transparent. If he had entitled it Typographic Treasures from the Collection of Jerry Kelly or something similar, then there would have been no need to define and discuss the words “books,” “famous,” and “typography”. The total number of items included would have been elastic and there would have been no need to restrict how many of them were by a single author or devoted to a single subject. Furthermore, Kelly could have scrapped the Fifty Typefaces Famous in Typography section. Admittedly, such a book would have had a different slant since only thirty-nine of the current items are listed as being owned by Kelly. However, I am confident that he owns at least another thirty-eight of the titles.
If Kelly had admitted upfront that the catalogue differed in some respects from the exhibition, there would be no reason to call him out on a number of discrepancies that I cite below. Similarly, the simple inclusion of sources for texts and captions for illustrations would have eliminated many of the complaints I have about the book.
Unfortunately, in aiming to create a book that would stand as an essential reference for future scholars, libraries, book dealers, and collectors, Kelly has badly stumbled and instead produced a book that is a cautionary tale about intellectual overreach.
The contents page is bare-bones. There is no individual list of the one hundred books and the eight supplementary items. Thus, trying to find specific items requires memorization of their numbers since they are not in exact chronological order.
Here are the titles of the 108 items as they appear in the book in Kelly’s words and orthography with page numbers:
1. Biblia Latina (1455) 26
2. Psalterium (1457) 28
3. De Evangelica Praeparatione by Eusebius Pamphilus (1470) 30
4. Elementa Geometriae by Euclid (1482) 34
5. Opera Omnia by Aristophanes (1498) 36
6. De Aetna by Pietro Bembo (1495) 38
7. Virgil (1501) 40
8. [Das Gebetbuch Kaiser Maximilians I] (1513) 42
9. Theuerdank by Melchior Pfintzing (1517) 44
10. De Proportionibus Libri Duo [sic] by Jean Fernal (1528) 46
11. La Poetica by Giovanni Giorgio Trissino (1529) 48
12. Champ Fleury by Geofroy Tory (1529) 50
12A. Champ Fleury by Geofroy Tory (1927) 54
13. Gallorvm Insvbrvm Antiqvae Sedes by Bonaventura Castiglione (1541) 56
14. Romanvm Historiam by Appianus (1551) 58
15. Dialogue de la Vie et de la Mort [by Innocentio Ringhieri] (1557) 60
16. Historiarvm svi Temporis Tomvs Primvs [sic] by Paolo Giovio (1553) 62
17. Index Sive Specimen Charactervm by Christopher Plantin (1567) 64
18. Linguae Hebraicae Institutiones Absolutissimae [by Jean Cinqarbres] (1609) 66
19. Mechanick Exercises by Joseph Moxon (1683) 68
20. Description et Perfection des Arts et Métiers, des Arts Construire les Caractères [by André Jammes] (1961) 70
21. La Science Pratique de l’Imprimerie by Martin Dominique Fertel (1723) 72
22. Indice de Caratteri… nella Stampa Vaticana (1628) 74
23. Bucolica, Georgica, et Aeneis by Virgil (1757) 76
24. Imprimerie Nationale Catalogue (1968) 78
25. Épreuves Générales des Caracteres [sic] by Claude Lamesle (1742) 80
26. Manuel Typographique by Pierre-Simon Fournier (1764–1766) 84
27. Proef van Letteren (1768) 86
28. Les Caractères et les Vignettes de la Fonderie du Sieur Delacolonge (1773) 88
29. Spécimen des Nouveaux Caractères de la Fonderie et de l’Imprimerie de P. Didot [, l’Ainè] (1819) 90
30. A Specimen of Printing Types, by William Caslon, Letter-Founder to His Majesty (1785) 92
30A. A Specimen by William Caslon, Letter-Founder [, in Chiswell-Street, London] (1734) 94
31. Poems by Goldsmith and Parnell (1795) 96
32. A Specimen of Printing Types and Various Ornaments (1856) [sic] 98
33. Oratio Dominica (1806) 100
34. The History of Printing in America by Isaiah Thomas (1810) 102
35. Manuale Tipografico (1818) 104
36. A Bibliography of Printing by E.C. Bigmore and C.W.H. Wyman (1880) 108
37. Typographia by Thomas Curson Hansard (1825) 110
38. Specimen of Old-Style Types (c.1868) 112
39. Typographia, or the Printer’s Instructor by John Johnson (1824) 114
40. The Biography and Typography of William Caxton by William Blades (1877) 116
41. A History of the Old English Letter Foundries by Talbot Baines Reed (1887) 118
42. Specimens of Chromatic Wood Type, Borders, Etc. (1874) 120
43. The Golden Legend by Jacobus de Voragine (1892) 124
44. William Morris by J.W. Mackail (1901) 126
45. Notes on a Century of Typography at the University Press, Oxford, 1693–1794 by Horace Hart (1900) 128
46. The Monotype Recorder (1902–1970) 130
47. The American Chap-Book by Will Bradley (1904–1905) 132
48. Fonderies de Caractères et leur Matériel dans les Pays-Bas du XVe au XIXe Siècle by Charles Enschedé (1908) 134
48A. Typefoundries in the Netherlands from the Fifteenth to the Nineteenth Century by Charles Enschedé (1978) 136
49. Historic Printing Types by Theodore Low De Vinne (1886) 138
50. Typographical Printing Surfaces by Lucien Alphonse Legros and John Cameron Grant (1916) 140
51. The Centaur by Maurice de Guerin (1915) 142
52. Kalendars (1910–1941) 144
53. Printing Types: Their History, Forms, and Use by Daniel Berkeley Updike (1922) 148
54. The Manual of Linotype Typography by William Dana Orcutt and Edward E. Bartlett (1923) 150
55. Type Specimen Book [sic] (1923) 152
56. The Fleuron (1923–1930) 156
57. Four Centuries of Fine Printing by Stanley Morison (1924) 160
57A. Modern Fine Printing by Stanley Morison (19250 164
58. The Goudy Type Family (1927) 166
59. Die neue Typographie by Jan Tschichold (1928) 168
60. The Printing of Greek in the Fifteenth Century by Robert Proctor (1900) 170
61. Catalogue of Specimens of printing Types by English and Scottish Printers and Founders, 1665–1830 by W. Turner Berry and A.F. Johnson (1935) 172
62. Futura: The Type of Today… and Tomorrow [sic] (c.1930) 174
63. Layout in Advertising by W.A. Dwiggins (1928) 176
64. Bifur (1928) [sic] 178
65. Type Designs: Their History and Development by A.F. Johnson (1934) 180
66. Type Specimen Facsimiles 1–15 by Stanley Morison and John Dreyfus (1963) 182
66A. Type Specimen Facsimiles II by Hendrik D.L. Vervliet and Harry Carter (1972) 184
67. An Essay on Typography by Eric Gill (1931) 186
68. Typologia by Frederic W. Goudy (1940) 188
69. A Tally of Types by Stanley Morison (1953) 190
70. Designing Books by Jan Tschichold (n.d.) 192
71. Manuale Typograficum by Hermann Zapf (1954) 194
71A. Manuale Typograficum [II] by Hermann Zapf (1968) 196
72. Janson: A Definitive Collection by Jack Stauffacher (1954) 200
73. On Designing and Devising Type by Jan van Krimpen (1957) 202
74. Early Korean Typography by Sohn Pow-Key (1987) [sic] 204
75. Finer Points in the Spacing & Arrangement of Type by Geoffrey Dowding (1954) 206
76. Printing and the Mind of Man by John Carter, Frank Francis, Stanley Morison, et al (1963) 208
77. Vita Activa (1967) 210
78. The Fell Types by Stanley Morison (1967) 212
79. A View of Early Typography by Harry Carter (1969) 214
80. De Aetna by Pietro Bembo (1969) 216
81. Art of the Printed Book 1455–1955 by Joseph Blumenthal (1973) 218
82. The ITC Typeface Collection (1980) 220
82A. U&lc (1973–1999) 222
83. Matrix (1981–present) 224
84. [Type Specimen Books] (1980s & 90s) 226
85. Nicholas Kis: A Hungarian Punch-Cutter and Printer 1650–1702 by György Haiman (1983) 228
86. Twentieth Century Type Designers by Sebastian Carter (1987) 230
87. American Proprietary Typefaces edited by David Pankow (1998) 232
88. A Miscellany of Type by John Randle (1990) 234
89. Digital Formats for Typefaces by Peter Karow (1987) 236
90. FUSE 1 by Neville Brody and Jon Wozencroft (1991) 238
91. Anatomy of a Typeface by Alexander Lawson (1990) 240
92. The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst (1992) 242
93. Stop Stealing Sheep by Erik Spiekermann and E.M. Ginger (1993) 244
94. Into Print by John Dreyfus (1994) 246
95. La Lumitype-Photon: René Higonnet, Louis Moyraud et l’Invention de la Photocomposition Moderne edited by Alan Marshall (1995) 248
96. So Long, Hot-metal Men by Henry Morris (2007) 250
96A. The Private Typecasters edited by Richard Hopkins (2005) [sic] 252
97. The Paleotypography [sic] of the French Renaissance by Hendrik D.L. Vervliet (2008) 254
98. Typology by Steven Heller and Louise Fili (1999) 256
99. Typefaces · The Complete Works by Adrian Frutiger (2009) 258
100. A Grammar of Typography by Mark Argetsinger (2020) 260
Foreword by Sebastian Carter
Sebastian Carter (b. 1941) is one of the advisors Kelly relied on in selecting the books for inclusion in the One Hundred Books Famous in Typography exhibition (see p. 21). He is a British typographer, book designer, printer, and author. His father Will Carter (1912–2001) founded the Rampant Lions Press in 1936. Sebastian worked with him at the press from 1966 until his fathers death, and then continuing it on his own another seven years. Carter wrote Twentieth Century Designers (no. 86) and was European editor of Parenthesis.
I have summarized Carter’s history of the changing meaning of the word “typography” in my general critique of One Hundred Books Famous in Typography previously posted online along with my view that he did not go far enough in explaining the changes in the nature of print production that underlay those changes.
• “On the Planning of Printing” was originally published in The Fleuron No. 2 (1924), pp. 13–27; and reprinted in In the Day’s Work by Daniel Berkeley Updike (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1924), pp. 3–37 and in The Well-Made Book: Essays & Lectures by Daniel Berkeley Updike edited by William S. Peterson (West New York, New Jersey: Mark Batty Publisher, 2002), pp. 2–22.
• “Oliver Simon” is Oliver Simon (1895–1956), British designer, typographer and eventually director for the Curwen Press. He was one of the editors of The Fleuron (1923–1930) (see no. 56) and the founding editor of Signature: A Quadrimestrial of Typography and Graphic Arts (1935–1954).
• “Ruari McLean” is Ruari McLean (1917–2006), Scottish typographer and author of books on book design, magazine design, and typography. In addition to being the author of How Typography Happens he also wrote The Thames & Hudson Manual of Typography (1980) and two books on the work of Jan Tschichold.
• “Charles Ricketts” is Charles Ricketts (1866–1931), British artist, illustrator, book designer, and theatre designer. He is most famous as the founder of The Vale Press (1896–1904).
• “Henry van de Velde” is Henry van de Velde (1863–1957), a Belgian-born artist, book designer, design educator, furnitute designer, and architect who worked in France, Germany, Switzerland, and Holland.
• “Peter Behrens” is Peter Behrens (1868–1940), German artist, type designer, graphic designer, and architect.
• “Carl Ernst Poeschel” is Carl Ernst Poeschel (1874–1944), German printer most famous as the head of the commercial printing firm Poeschel & Trepte and as the co-founder with Walter Tiemann (1876–1951) of the Janus Presse, the first German private press.
• “Riverside Press” refers to the Riverside Press, the printing plant of Houghton Mifflin Co., which was established in 1852 and closed in 1971. Bruce Rogers (1870–1957) worked there from 1895 to 1911. From 1900 on he headed its Department of Special Bookmaking.
• “Rudge” refers to The Printing House of William Edwin Rudge, established in 1908 by William Edwin Rudge II (1876–1931) in New York City. Rogers worked with Rudge from 1919 to 1928.
• “Cooper & Beatty” refers to the Toronto typesetting business founded in 1921 by Edward Cooper, Lewis Beatty, and J.L. Pepper as the Trade Composition Company that became Cooper & Beatty upon Pepper’s departure in 1926. Its heyday was from 1950 until 1968, a period in which its designers included Allan Fleming (1929–1977) and Carl Dair (1912–1967), author of Design with Type (1952).
• “Herbert Spencer” is Herbert Spencer (1924–2002), British typographer, graphic designer, editor, and author. He founded and edited Typographica (1949–1967) and wrote the influential Pioneers of Modern Typography (1969).
• “El Lissitzky” is Lazar Markovich Lissitzky (better known as El Lissitzky) (1890–1941), a Russian artist and graphic designer who worked in Germany as well as his native Russia. He designed Dlia Golosa [For the Voice] by Vladimir Mayakovsky (1923).
• “Laszlo Moholy-Nagy” is Laszlo Moholy-Nagy (1895–1946), Hungarian-born graphic designer, photographer, design educator, and author who worked in Germany and the United States. Moholy-Nagy coined the phrase “Die neue Typographie” in a 1923 essay of that name.
• “Dutch De Stijl” refers to De Stijl (1917–1931), the Netherlands-based abstract art movement led by Piet Mondrian (1872–1944).
• “Bauhaus” refers to the Staatliches Bauhaus (1919–1933), the famous German design school.
• “Enschedé of Haarlem” refers to Joh. Enschedé en Zonen, a type foundry and printing firm founded in 1703 in Haarlem and still active in the specialized field of security printing. (See nos. 48 and 48A.)
Carter mentions several books that appear later in One Hundred Books Famous in Typography: Mechanick Exercises by Joseph Moxon (no. 19), Printing Types by Daniel Berkeley Updike (no. 53), The Centaur by Maurice de Guerin (no. 51), A View of Early Typography by Harry Carter (no. 79), La science pratique de l’imprimerie by Martin Dominique Fertel (no. 21), Die neue Typographie by Jan Tschichold (no. 59), and On Designing and Devising Type by Jan van Krimpen (no. 73). The only ones that are linked are Moxon and Bruce Rogers (as the designer of the Centaur typeface first shown in The Centaur).
“The proofs were read by my long-term colleagues Janice Fisher, Jason Dewinetz and Nancy Leo-Kelly.… David R. Godine also read the text, providing important input; the breadth and depth of his knowledge would be hard to equal. Paul Needham provided critical information for the early printing entries.” p. 14
Normally I would not comment on the Acknowledgments section of a book, but since many of my complaints are editorial it seems proper to identify those people who helped Kelly in that area.
I have discussed the problematical words—”one hundred,” “book,” “famous,” and “typography”—contained in the title of the exhibition and catalogue in my general critique of One Hundred Books Famous in Typography previously posted online.
• There are links provided to nos. 71 and 71A on p. 16; nos. 68, 73, and 94 on p. 18; and no. 53 on p. 19. The introduction is the perfect place to entice the reader. Thus, there should also be links to nos. 19, 48, 53, 57 for p. 15; nos. 1, 2, 4, 7, 19, 23, 26, 28, 30, 30A, 35, 42, 43, 45, 46, 48, 50, 53, 56, 59, 64, 71, 79, 83, 84, 89, 92, and 95 for p. 17; no. 33 for p. 18; and nos. 1, 12, 26, 35, 41, 45, 59, 67, 69, 79, and 97 for p. 19; nos. 5, 14, 22, 74, and 76 for p. 20.
“Following the format of the six previous Grolier Hundred exhibitions,*this selection presents milestones in the development and study of this important field [typography].” p. 15
“*One Hundred Books Famous in English Literature / 1902
One Hundred Books Famous in American Literature / 1946
One Hundred Books Famous in Science / 1964
One Hundred Books Famous in Medicine / 1994
A Century for the Century / 1999
One Hundred Books Famous in Children’s Literature / 2014″ p. 15 note
The “series” is not quite as neat as Kelly claims. Of the six exhibitions cited as predecessors to “One Hundred Books Famous in Typography,” only four of them have a title with that phraseology. The first was “One Hundred Books Famous in English Literature” (January 23–February 21, 1903), sparked by the publication the year before of One Hundred Books Famous in English Literature with Facsimiles of the Title-Pages with an introduction by George Woodberry (New York: The Grolier Club, 1902). Its accompanying catalogue was Bibliographical Notes on One Hundred Books Famous in English Literature compiled by Henry Watson Kent (New York: The Grolier Club, 1903). The second exhibition was not titled “One Hundred Books Famous in American Literature” and it was not, as one might expect, a companion to the 1903 exhibition. The latter was about literature in the English language and included thirteen books by American authors. The actual title of the 1946 exhibition is telling for its precision and lack of grandeur: “One Hundred Influential American Books Printed before 1900”. There was no catalogue for it. The catalogue for “One Hundred Books Famous in Science” (1958) was published six years later as One Hundred Books Famous in Science by Harrison D. Horblit (New York: The Grolier Club, 1964). One Hundred Books Famous in Medicine by Norman F. Haskell (New York: The Grolier Club, 1995) was published the year after the exhibition. The other two exhibitions and catalogues are exactly as Kelly indicates.
“A book may be defined as a series of pages that are bound together in a specific sequence, within a protective cover.” p. 16
This definition allows Kelly to include in his survey several periodicals and two examples of ephemera: no. 46 The Monotype Recorder, no. 47 The American Chap-Book, no. 52 Gebrüder Klingspor Kalendars, no. 56 The Fleuron, no. 82A U&lc, no. 83 Matrix, and no. 84 Adobe Originals type specimens. Although there is no need to further justify these titles, he explains later why the Klingspor calendars (see p. 144), The Fleuron and Matrix qualify (see p. 224). However, he does not explain the inclusion of FUSE 1 (no. 90) which consists of a floppy disk, a folded introductory text, and four folded posters packaged in a cardboard mailer.
“…I would like to paraphrase what Maurice Sendak, the famous children’s book artist, had to say on this subject [e-books]: while being interviewed on Stephen Colbert’s television show he was asked how he feels about e-books. Sendak responded succinctly: ‘Those are not books.’ And that was the end of the conversation.” p. 16
• Maurice Sendak (1928–2012) was a children’s book artist and author. His most famous book is Where the Wild Things Are (New York: Harper & Row, 1963).
• Sendak appeared on The Colbert Report, hosted by Steven Colbert, on January 24, 2012. (The interview is on YouTube: part 1 and part 2.)
• Stephen Colbert (b. 1964) is an American comedian, actor, writer, and political commentator.
Kelly, in his curt dismissal of e-books, never considers whether or not CD-ROMs or books printed on demand qualify as books according to his criteria. The most important series of CD-ROMs are those created by Octavo between 1998 and 2006 which includes several titles relevant to typography and this catalogue: The Gutenberg Bible (1455), Elementa Geometriae by Euclid (1482), Hypnerotomachia Poliphili by Francesco Colonna (1499), Vergilius by Aldus Manutius (1501), Champ Fleury by Geofroy Tory (1529), Mechanick Exercises by Joseph Moxon (1683), Manuale Tipografico by Giambattista Bodoni (1818), The Story of the Glittering Plain by William Morris (1894), and The Works Now Newly Imprinted by Geoffrey Chaucer (1896).
“…we do not consider ephemera or e-books” p. 16
There are many definitions of ephemera. Here are three online ones that bear some relevance to this catalogue: Merriam Webster: “Paper items (such as posters, broadsides, and tickets) that were originally meant to be discarded after use but have since become collectibles.”; Oxford Languages: “Items of collectible memorabilia, typically written or printed ones, that were originally expected to have only short-term usefulness or popularity.”; and Oxford Reference: “Things that exist or are used or enjoyed for only a short time; items of collectable memorabilia, typically written or printed ones, that were originally expected to have only short-term usefulness or popularity.” Kelly does not provide a definition of ephemera. Along with FUSE 1, the Adobe originals type specimens, and the Klingspor calendars, the catalogue includes William Caslon’s 1734 broadside type specimen (no. 30A) as an ancillary item.
“It [typography] encompasses the art and science of printing types, including type manufacture and type design. However, today typography is most often used to refer to the arrangement of type on the page, printed or electronic: as long as it involves type (i.e., mechanically produced letters which can be multiplied to form words and texts), the graphic arranging of the matter would be the task of the typographer.” p. 16
I have no quarrel with this definition of typography today. But Kelly, a typographer and book designer by trade, fails to expound upon what is involved in arranging type on a page. He makes no mention of the nuts and bolts that constitute typography: alignment, paragraphing, columns, glosses, texts in multiple languages, running heads, folios, footnotes, initials, italics, small caps, bold type, charts, etc. With only a few exceptions (e.g. Aldus’ use of italic), important moments of the intertwined advancement of textual and typographic subtlety and sophistication are ignored.
“Also studies of the history of typography which had great influence… With this categorization, a few journals of major importance in the history of typography, such as the The Fleuron and The Monotype Recorder, are also included.” p. 17
There is no debate over the importance of The Fleuron to the history of typography, but there are several periodicals that are far more significant in this regard than The Monotype Recorder. Two that quickly come to mind are Typography Papers and Typographische Monatsblätter.
“Among our one hundred [books] are specimen books of type designs that proved to be turning points in the history of typography, including a Caslon type specimen book and the specimen book for Cassandre’s Bifur font.” p. 17
This sentence is a bit ambiguous. Are the specimen books included because they are significant or because the typefaces are important. There is no doubt that the 1929 specimen booklet for Bifur (no. 64) is a landmark in the evolution of the design of type specimens, but the typeface itself had only a minimal impact on the history of type design. On the other hand, William Caslon’s roman and italic types have had a tremendous influence on British and American printing for several centuries. However, the 1785 specimen book included in the catalogue was produced nearly two decades after Caslon’s death and is only significant as the last gasp of his type’s popularity in England prior to the 1840s. By then the types of John Baskerville (see no. 23) were exerting a greater influence on British typefounders. (See the Baskervillian Six Lines Pica and Canon (New) in A Specimen of Printing Types, by Wm Caslon, Letter-Founder to the King [London: Printed by C. Whittingham, 1796]; Canon No. 2 in the 1798 specimen). The more important Caslon specimen book (as opposed to a broadside) is his first, A Specimen of Printing Types by W. Caslon and Son, Letter Founders, London (London: Printed by John Towers, 1764).
“This is a show of books, so broadsides such as Ratdolt’s type specimen sheet (dated April 1, 1486, the first type specimen ever) and Caslon’s seminal type specimen broadsides are not eligible for inclusion, though the Caslon sheet and some other type broadsides are displayed with a related book as a supplemental item.” p. 17
This sentence seems to conflate the exhibition and the catalogue. Caslon’s famous 1734 broadside (no. 30A), as a supplement to the 1785 Caslon specimen book (no. 30), is the only typographic broadside in the catalogue unless Kelly has the FUSE 1 posters in mind. However, the exhibition displayed a 1921 broadside of typefaces by Frederic W. Goudy and a 1948 broadside of Centaur as well as the Caslon broadside. Caslon’s broadside was originally inserted into editions of Cyclopædia: or, An Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences prepared by Ephraim Chambers (first published in 1728).
“In brief, criteria for inclusion include:…
—Only books printed in Europe and America, using typography mainly in the Latin alphabet but also occasionally Greek typefaces and other alphabets.” pp. 17–18
“Not included in this selection are:…
—Journals where the main focus is almost exclusively books, not typography.…
—Asian and other non-European alphabets, with a few exceptions such as a book about the first cast moveable type, produced in Korea, and some typographic compilations in many languages….” p. 18
“In general, we have limited ourselves to books in the Latin alphabet in its various incarnations (roman, italic, blackletter)—the alphabet used in the first successful practical productions of Gutenberg’s method for replicating texts, as well as the letterforms of The Grolier Club’s home, New York City. In order to give a slightly more complete overview of the art of typography, we have made a very few exceptions, including a couple of books on Greek typography, which formed such a key component of typography in the West (the focus of this show), and one in Korean, since it is likely that the first moveable types, and therefore the earliest example of typography itself, were produced in Korea.” p. 20
There are three books in the catalogue that were specifically chosen for their Greek type: no. 5 Opera Omnia by Aristophanes (Venice: Aldus Manutius 1498); no. 14 Romanum Historiam by Appianus (Paris: Charles Estienne, 1551); and no. 60 The Printing of Greek in the Fifteenth Century by Robert Proctor (London: The Bibliographical Society, 1900). All of the type specimens in the catalogue prior to 1800 show one or more Greek types (e.g. no. 28 Les Caractères et les Vignettes de la Fonderie du Sieur Delacolonge ). Kelly does not address Hebrew, even though he includes no. 18 Linguae Hebraicae Institutiones Absolutissimae (Paris: Officina Le Bé, 1609).
Kelly’s comments about Korean typography are both oblique and hesitant. There seems to be no doubt among Asian scholars (and printing historians) that the first moveable type was created in China between 1041 and 1048 by Bi Sheng (also known as Pi Sheng) using baked clay or porcelain characters; that Wang Zhen, a Yuan dynasty official, is credited with the introduction of wooden moveable type around 1297; and that moveable type cast from metal was used in Korea in the 13th century, possibly as early as the 1230s. (See especially The Invention of Printing in China and its Spread Westward by Thomas Francis Carter [New York: Columbia University Press, 1925], pp. 159–168 for moveable type in China and pp. 169–179 for moveable type in Korea.) Kelly’s reluctance to acknowledge the primacy of the Asian invention of moveable type colors his entry for no. 74 Early Korean Typography by Sohn Pow-Key (Seoul: Po Chin Chai Co. Ltd., 1982), an exception to his rule about books printed only in Europe or America. This book should have been the first entry in the catalogue rather than inexplicably being buried amongst books published in the middle of the 20th century.
“Given these criteria, in general we aimed for just one publication per practitioner or topic.” p. 18
This arbitrary decision clearly placed Kelly in a bind. He vainly tries to explain why there is only one book or type specimen for topics such as Linotype (no. 54), Monotype (no. 46), and phototype (no. 95), as well as for individuals like John Baskerville (no. 23), William Morris (no. 43), Jan van Krimpen (no. 73), Adrian Frutiger (no. 99), and John Dreyfus (no. 94); all the while defending multiple books for Aldus Manutius (nos. 5, 6, and 7), Frederic W. Goudy (nos. 58 and 68), and Stanley Morison (nos. 56, 57, 57A, 66, 69, 76, and 78). Not only are three of his examples incomplete, but they do not tell the full story of the exceptions to his self-imposed rule. No. 69 A Tally of Types by Stanley Morison is about Monotype typefaces; no. 82 The ITC Typeface Collection consists of photo-typefaces; and John Dreyfus is the editor of no. 66A.
Other individuals or businesses that appear more than once are: nos. 8 and 9 printer Johann Schönsperger; nos. 14 and 16 punchcutter Claude Garamond (sic); nos. 33 and 35 punchcutter and printer Giambattista Bodoni; nos. 72 and 83 punchcutter Miklos Kis; nos. 27, 48, and 48A the Enschedé typefoundry; nos. 47, 55, and 58 American Type Founders; nos. 12A and 51 book designer Bruce Rogers; nos. 59 and 70 typographer Jan Tschichold; nos. 83 and 88 the Whittington Press; nos. 84 and 93 Adobe Systems; nos. 84, 87, and 90 digital type; nos. 61 and 65 type historian A.F. Johnson; nos. 66A and 79 type historian Harry Carter; and nos. 66A and 97 type historian Hendrik D.L. Vervliet. No. 80 is also related to Aldus Manutius. And there are five books about English type history (nos. 40, 41, 45, 61, and 78). Clearly, Kelly’s unnecessary one-book-per-person-or-topic restriction is a sham.
“…books FAMOUS IN typography should, by our criteria as itemized above, contain both great aesthetic examples… as well as books … which, while not prime aesthetic examples, contain texts of the highest significance in the study of typography.” p. 19
It is unfortunate that Kelly seems to have preferred the first group to the second one. How else to explain the absence of the groundbreaking American Wood Type, 1828–1900: Notes on the Evolution of Decorated and Large Types and Comments on Related Trades of the Period by Rob Roy Kelly (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1969) or the essential Sixteenth-Century Printing Types of the Low Countries by Hendrik D.L. Vervliet (Amsterdam: Menno Hertzberger & Co., 1968)? By my count, there are sixteen titles (excluding three surveys of “fine printing”) in One Hundred Books Famous in Typography whose subject is the history of typography or typefaces.
“…it is surely preferable to have a group of experts hash out an debate the contents of such a selection, rather than rely on one person’s subjective assessment…. I am most fortunate and grateful that several of the top people in the field of typography agreed to consult on One Hundred Books Famous in Typography. The selection committee consisted of: [Robert Bringhurst, Sebastian Carter, Jason Dewinetz, David R. Godine, Steven Heller, Eric Holzenberg, Russell Maret, David Pankow, Michael Russem, and Lynne and Bob Veatch.]” p. 21
• Robert Bringhurst (b. 1946)
• Sebastian Carter (b. 1941)
• Jason Dewinetz
• David R. Godine (b. 1944)
• Steven Heller (b. 1950)
• Eric Holzenberg (b. 1958?)
• Russell Maret (b. 1971)
• David Pankow
• Michael Russem (b. 1975)
• Lynne and Bob Veatch
These are all well-respected individuals in the worlds of fine printing, book collecting, bookselling, publishing, and graphic design history. Several of them have excellent credentials as practicing typographers and book designers. Although a few of them have written on aspects of typographic history, none are specialists in that field. Similarly, although Maret and Kelly have both designed several typefaces, they are not type designers by trade and their typefaces are not widely known.
This advisory committee is not only heavily male, but it is also skewed geographically with eight Americans, two Canadians and one Englishman. More importantly, it is a very homogeneous group, one that shares Kelly’s perspectives on the art and science of typography. (Those perspectives are a predilection for fine printing, a preference for metal type, a focus on book typography and text typefaces, and a bias toward type history as seen through an Anglo-American lens.) The only outliers are Steven Heller and, to a lesser extent, the fine printing apostate Michael Russem. Although I do not know for sure, I suspect that Heller is responsible for the inclusion of U&lc (no. 82A), FUSE 1 (no. 90), and Typology (no. 97). And I am guessing that Russem is the unnamed advisor in this comment by Kelly: “Upon consideration of the scope of this exhibition, one advisor decided that ‘if I want a show that does that I should curate it, rather than hoping you would change the focus of yours. …I’m sure it will be an interesting show despite my scruples.'” (p. 21)
There are many individuals who Kelly could have tapped to achieve both a deeper and a broader view of typography. Here is a short list of names that come to my mind: type historians James Mosley, John Lane, Sébastien Morlighem, Riccardo Olocco, Dan Reynolds, and David Shields; scholars and researchers Lotte Hellinga, Nicolas Barker, David M. MacMillan, Rich Hopkins, Stan Nelson, Doug Clouse, Nick Sherman, André Jammes, Alice Savoie, Patrick Goossens, Ferdinand Ulrich, and Walter Wilkes; typography writers Stephen Coles, John Boardley, Rick Poynor, and Robin Kinross; librarians and curators Jane Siegel, Amanda Hugill-Fontanel, Frank Romano, H. George Fletcher, Alan Marshall, and Mathieu Lommen; educators Charles Bigelow, Ellen Lupton, Gerrit Noordzij, Gerry Leonidas, Christopher Burke, Caroline Archer-Parré, Catherine Dixon, James Clough, Frans Janssen, and Hans Rudolf Bosshard; type designers Erik Spiekermann, Matthew Carter, Jonathan Hoefler, Nick Shinn, Fiona Ross, Fred Smeijers, and Frank Blokland; book designers and typographers Jost Hochuli, John Berry, Scott-Martin Kosofsky, and Alastair Johnston; ephemera collector Dick Sheaff; and book collector Fred Schreiber. Many of these people are accomplished in areas other than those I have conveniently placed them in.
“In general we have aimed to supply one reference work for each of the entries, though in some cases there are several books so relevant to the subject that we felt compelled to include two or three. …[F]or the sake of brevity and ease of use for the reader, we have kept references for the individual items to a minimum.” p. 22
“At the end of the volume there is also a selected bibliography of general reference works which contain pertinent information on numerous highlights in the field of typography, as opposed to one specific work or practitioner.” p. 22
Kelly has the right to make his list of references as narrow or as expansive as he wants. But it seems to me that he has missed a golden opportunity to provide a substantial list of essential books, articles, and other published material on the various aspects of typography that are covered in One Hundred Books Famous in Typography. Not only would such a bibliography have been of immense value in itself, but worthy books that fell short of being included in the catalogue could have been marked in some manner. As a means of partially rectifying what I see as an error in judgement, I have included additional sources for each entry in the dissection that follows.
“Thanks to the generosity of several individuals and institutions, we have been able to show special copies of many of the works exhibited.” p. 23
This explains the frequent inclusion of information regarding the provenance of a title in the entries. However, as I have noted in the dissection below, many of the illustrations in the catalogue are not taken from those specific copies.
Lenders to the Exhibition p. 23
• “American Type Founders Company Library & Museum at Columbia University” should be Columbia University Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
• Although Jerry Kelly is the major lender to the exhibition, his name never appears as such in the catalogue. All entries (32 in total) that lack a provenance citation are for items lent by him. And all items credited to the curator are his (nos. 11, 44, 47, 51, 52, 61, 64, 66, 67, 77, 81, 82, 82A, 84, and 98).
• Listed among the lenders to the exhibition is Laurie Burns, yet none of the items in the catalogue or the online exhibition are credited to her. However, there are several items listed as currently owned by Kelly that were previously owned by her father Aaron Burns (1922–1991) (see nos. 64, 82, and 82A). (Laurie Burns does not appear in the index.) The Rochester Institute of Technology / Cary Library is also listed as a lender, though no individuals items are credited in the text and the Index has no reference to it on p. 23. David Pankow, the former curator of the Melbert B. Cary, Jr. Graphic Arts Library at Rochester Institute of Technology did lend two items to the exhibition, only one of which is in the catalogue (no. 87).