Dissections

Blue Pencil was born out of the disappointment of seeing the editorial quality of books on graphic design and typographic history decline precipitously over the past decade. Its raison d’être is to dissect books on graphic design history and typography to ferret out errors—typographical, orthographical and factual—in such books and post them publicly. Dissections are not done to denigrate authors, but to rebuke proofreaders and editors who have failed their jobs and publishers who have abdicated their responsibility to the reader. Blue Pencil marks up a text with an eye to improving it.

Blue Pencil no. 5—Type: A Visual History of Typefaces and Graphic Styles 1628–1900 vol. 1

Type: A Visual History of Typefaces and Graphic Styles 1628–1900 vol. 1
edited by Cees W. de Jong, Alston W. Purvis and Jan Tholenaar
texts by Jan Tholenaar and Cees W. de Jong
(Hong Kong, Köln, London et al—Taschen, 2009)
http://www.taschen.com/pages/en/catalogue/design/all/05088/facts.type_a_visu
The book comes with a keycard that allows the buyer/reader to access and download 1069 high resolution (jpeg format) images for free and without restrictions on their use.
The 134 page-website displays 8 images per page. Each is tagged with the title of the item, and …
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Update: Blue Pencil no. 1 re: Civilité

Gilles Corre of GLC Fonts, in responding to a comment in Blue Pencil no. 1,  has pointed out that his website only shows pictures of his fonts and that information about their background can be found on MyFonts. His 1742 Civilité is derived from a model in Pierre Simon Fournier le jeune’s Modèles des caractères de l’imprimerie et des autres choses nécessaires au dit art nouvellement gravés par Simon-Pierre Fournier le jeune (1742).

Blue Pencil no. 4—Typography and Graphic Design: From Antiquity to the Present

Typography and Graphic Design: From Antiquity to the Present
Roxane Jubert
Forewords by Serge Lemoine and Ellen Lupton
Paris: Flammarion, 2006
Translators: David Radzinowicz and Deke Dusinberre
Copy Editor: Lindsay Porter
Proofreader: Penelope Isaac
Typography and Graphic Design: From Antiquity to the Present, a broad history of graphic design by Roxane Jubert, appeared before the Eskilson and Drucker/McVarish books that have already been dissected on Blue Pencil. It is different from those books in several basic ways. Its captions are brief, limited (usually) to the name of …
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Blue Pencil no. 3.4—Bodoni





There is much confusion about what the types of Giambattista Bodoni really looked like. This is because Bodoni’s types changed over the course of his 45 year career. His early faces were influenced by the types of Pierre-Simon Fournier le jeune while his mature ones were influenced by the fonts of Firmin Didot. Bodoni also constantly refined his types to …
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Blue Pencil no. 3.3—Humanist Bookhand


This is a detail from Harley 4965 f.127v in the British Library. The manuscript is an Eusebius (De evangelica praeparatione by Eusebius of Caesarea, translated by Georgius Trapezuntius) written out in 1482 in Florence. The script is commonly called humanist bookhand, though the Humanists themselves called it littera antica (in contradistinction to rotunda or littera moderna). This is the script that Drucker/McVarish confusingly call Humanist rotunda. The letters are “rounder” than those of either Spanish …
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Blue Pencil no. 3.2—Rotunda


Rotunda was a southern European script and it was as popular in Spain as in Italy. Spanish rotunda tends to be narrower, more rigid and more precise than the Italian model. The example here is an undated sheet of parchment—it looks as if it could have been written anytime from the late 15th c. to the end of the 16th c.—which I bought ten years ago in Copenhagen. The writing is on both sides and …
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Blue Pencil no. 3.1—Rotunda


The term that I quibbled with most in reading Graphic Design History: A Critical History was “rotunda”. On the assumption that most of those reading Blue Pencil do not have paleographical or calligraphic backgrounds I thought it would be easier to understand my comments if I posted some examples of rotunda and of humanist bookhand.
This first image is Ryl Latin Ms 32, f. 21. For those not used to manuscript notation this is the 21st …
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Blue Pencil no. 3—Graphic Design History: A Critical Guide

This installment of Blue Pencil is different from previous ones in that the “errors” being exposed are, for the most part, not factual, orthographical or typographical, but editorial. Editorial errors are harder to nail down and hence more insidious. They are also more subjective so this post will include a number of references, both print and online, in support of my comments as well as some relevant images.
One of the basic problems of Graphic Design History: A Critical Guide is …
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Blue Pencil no. 2—Graphic Design: A New History

This is the second Blue Pencil installment.
After Mary Ann Bolger wrote a fairly favorable review of Graphic Design: A New History in Eye no. 66 (vol. 17, Autumn 2007), I wrote a letter to the magazine pointing out that it is “riddled with errors”, most of them relating to typefaces and typography. The letter was published in Eye no. 67 (vol. 17, Spring 2008) and led, several months later, to a response from Prof. Eskilson. He wanted to know what …
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Blue Pencil no. 1—Font. The Sourcebook

This is a slow blog. I have lots of material I hope to post but not enough time to properly prepare it. Thus, I expect my posts to be sporadic which will make Blue Pencil part of the nascent trend toward slow blogging.
I chose the name Blue Pencil for the blog because my original intention in establishing it was to post lists of errors—factual, orthographical, typographical, etc.—I have been increasingly finding in the various books I read. Many publishers have …
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