Research

Research consists of unintended or accidental discoveries that I have made during the course of my research into other topics. They are posted here in the belief that others may find the information equally fascinating. Some items are meant to challenge or question existing scholarship on a specific topic. And others are intended to alert scholars to material that may be relevant to their own pursuits or to new opportunities of research.

The Definitive Dwiggins no. 722—“Mantegna” and Margaret B. Evans

Margaret B. Evans (1903–1986) was a compositor, printer, and book designer. She attended Radcliffe College, graduating in 1927, and then did graduate study in the history of printing under George Parker  Winship at the Fogg Museum in Cambridge. After that Evans went from studying printing in books to learning about it first hand with a two-year apprenticeship from 1929 to 1931 at The Printing House of William Edwin Rudge in Mount Vernon, New York. In 1931 she became the designer …
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Type Specimens, Type Specimen and More Type Specimens—Letterforms Study Group in San Francisco August 21–23, 2023

There are still places available for these inexpensive special study sessions about type specimens led by Paul Shaw. Registration ends August 18. Scroll to the bottom for prices and payment options.
Page from a specimen of Grobe Kabel Kursiv by Rudolf Koch (Gebr. Klingspor 1930) reproduced in Type. A Visual History of Typefaces & Graphic Styles vol. 2 edited by Cees W. de Jong, Alston W. Purvis and Jan Tholenaar (Köln: Taschen, 2010).
About Type Specimens
At first glance type specimens are innocuous …
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Letterforms Study Group in San Francisco—A Type and Type Specimen Trifecta August 21–23, 2023

The Letterforms Study Group is coming to San Francisco this summer. From August 21 to August 23, 2023 I will host three study sessions focused on type specimens. These are not lectures. They are participatory, collaborative investigations of physical items (books, periodicals, broadsides, etc.) which are linked thematically. My role in these events is to act as a facilitator and an informed guide rather than as an all-knowing authority.
Participants do not need to have prior familiarity with type design or …
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Grolier Club talk—The Greatest Type Specimen Ever Made: The 1882 Bruce Foundry specimen

p. 39 from Specimens of Printing Types Made at Bruce’s New-York Type-Foundry (New York: George Bruce’s Son & Co., Type-Founders, 1882).
…probably the largest, most complete and finest typographical specimen book ever produced.—La Cygne Journal (La Cygne, Kansas) April 29, 1882
Specimens of Printing Types Made at Bruce’s New-York Type-Foundry (New York: George Bruce’s Son & Co., Type-Founders, 1882)
Although it is neither the most colorful nor the most visually sumptuous type specimen, the 1882 Bruce type foundry specimen is arguably the …
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Demonology & | witchcraft!!! | Printing: An online research session into the history of Philadelphia type foundries 1823–1844

Six Lines Gothic Condensed and Six Lines Gothic from Specimen of Printing Types and Ornaments by Rob & Ecklin, Letter Founders (Philadelphia: 1836). Image courtesy of RIT Libraries Digital Collections.
Letterforms Study Group via Zoom / Friday April 7 at 2 pm Eastern Daylight Time
fee $15

In this online type history research session I will retrace my recent research into the history of the Robb & Ecklin type foundry of Philadelphia, its partners Samuel Ecklin and Alexander Robb, and their relationship to …
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Blue Pencil no. 68—Specimens of Wood Type 1900–2000

This is part of a series of posts listing type specimens that have been digitized and placed online. Many of them are downloadable in whole or as individual pages. This is the second part of a list that focuses on specimens of wood type. It includes not only specimens from wood type manufacturers, but also specimens from type foundries that offer either wood type or large sizes of some of their metal types in wood. [1] The first part of …
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Blue Pencil no. 67—Specimens of Wood Type 1803–1899

This is part of a series of posts listing type specimens that have been digitized and placed online. Many of them are downloadable in whole or as individual pages. This is the first part of a list that focuses on specimens of wood type. It includes not only specimens from wood type manufacturers, but also specimens from type foundries that offer either wood type or large sizes of some of their metal types in wood. [1] The second part of …
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Letterforms Study Group—Fourth session 2 February 2023: Psychedelic Posters

The fourth Letterforms Study Group session was held on February 2, 2023 at Jack Rennert’s Gallery in Manhattan, one of the world’s leading poster dealers. The attendees were Marcos Baer, Patricia Belen, Patricia Childers, Greg D’Onofrio, Sam Henri-Gold, Earl Kallemeyn, Scott Santoro, Alex Tochilovsky, Beth Tondreau, and Carmile Zaino.
The fourth Letterforms Study Group session at Jack Rennert’s Gallery. From left to right: Marcos Baer, Earl Kallemeyn, Scott Santoro Sam Henri-Gold, Greg D’Onofrio, Patricia Belen, Paul Shaw, Patricia Childers, and …
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Letterforms Study Group—Third session 12 January 2023: Color and Letters

Spread from A Grammar of Color by A.H. Munsell (Mittineague: The Strathmore Paper Company, 1921). Illustration by Helen Dryden. Photograph by Vincent Giordano. Image courtesy of Mohawk Paper Company.
The third Letterforms Study Group session was held on January 12, 2023 at the Rare Book & Manuscript Library of Columbia University. Our host was Jane Siegel, Librarian for Rare Books & Bibliographic Services. The attendees were Patricia Childers, Liz DeLuna, Sam Henri-Gold, Steve Kennedy, Claire Lukacs, Scott Santoro, Rebecca Lehman Sprouse, Beth …
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Mad, Bad (but Good to Know): A survey of type specimens offline and online

Sonoma Plaza (Bear Flag Republic) from Historia: A Type Specimen (Berkeley, California: Emigre Fonts, 2010), pp. 20–21. Design by Rudy VanderLans.
Mad, Bad (but Good to Know): A survey of type specimens offline and online
Type@Cooper
13 February 2023
This is a list of the type specimens included in my Type@Cooper talk. Those that have been digitized and available online are marked in red. Where multiple digitized versions of specimens exist I have chosen either the one with the best visual quality or …
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Letterforms Study Group—Second session 15 December 2022: Holiday Greeting Cards

Holiday card by Victor Trasoff (1952).
The second Letterforms Study group session took place on 15 December 2022 at the Herb Lubalin Center of Design and Typography at The Cooper Union. Curator Alex (Sasha) Tochilovsky graciously provided the meeting space again and also helped me sort through the Center’s collection of holiday greeting cards, the theme of the session. Although I had expected a large number of calligraphic cards, given Cooper Union’s longtime history of including calligraphy in its curriculum, we …
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Additional information on the history of the terms “Graphic Design” and “Graphic Designer”

Commercial Designer / Graphic Art Designer / Graphic Designer
In my recent post about The Daily Heller I asked for people to do serious research into the history of the terms “graphic design” and “graphic designer”. Alex Jay quickly responded to my plea with a lengthy email summarizing what he has discovered about “commercial designer”*—which he says encompasses the graphic and industrial arts—as well as about “graphic art designer” and “graphic designer”. I am posting an edited version of …
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Letterforms Study Group—Inaugural session 29 November 2022: Wood Type

Second page of chromatic borders from Specimens of Printing Types, Etc. Cast and Made by George Bruce, New York (New York: Bruce’s New-York Type-Foundry, 1853). Copy in the Grolier Club Library.
In early October I was at the Grolier Club in New York looking at a miscellany of type-related items in their collection: a birthday greeting to Margherita Bodoni in 1813; an 1827 book published by William Pickering “printed with the types of John Baskerville”; several publications issued by …
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Bartolomeo Sanvito—An Inventory (Part III)

A GUIDE TO MANUSCRIPTS MISATTRIBUTED TO BARTOLOMEO SANVITO AND TO SCRIBES ASSOCIATED WITH HIM

Bartolomeo Sanvito: The Life & Work of a Renaissance Scribe by A.C. de la Mare and Laura Nuvoloni; edited by Anthony Hobson and Christopher de Hamel; with contributions by Scott Dickerson, Ellen Cooper Erdreich and Anthony Hobson (Paris: Association Internationale de Bibliophilie, 2009)
This third inventory is largely taken from Appendix IV: List of Rejected Attributions (pp. 383–386) in de la Mare’s corpus of the works of Sanvito …
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Bartolomeo Sanvito—An Inventory (Part II)

A GUIDE TO THE MANUSCRIPTS RUBRICATED OR CORRECTED BY BARTOLOMEO SANVITO
Bartolomeo Sanvito: The Life & Work of a Renaissance Scribe by A.C. de la Mare and Laura Nuvoloni; edited by Anthony Hobson and Christopher de Hamel; with contributions by Scott Dickerson, Ellen Cooper Erdreich and Anthony Hobson (Paris: Association Internationale de Bibliophilie, 2009)
Albinia de la Mare’s posthumous corpus on the work of the Paduan scribe Bartolomeo Sanvito (1433?–1511) (see above) focuses on manuscripts that he entirely or partially wrote out. …
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