Pages: 64 - 65
Text: Books on type
Journal of the Printing Historical Society Number1 Editor James Mosley, Printing Historical Society, £1 Is The new journal of the Printing Historical Society, published to record material that in an era of technological change might otherwise be dispersed, has a preface which pays tribute to the work of preservation by the university presses and the new 'bibliographical presses' which are maintaining some nineteenth century equipment in working order. The articles in the journal themselves show the importance of this new venture. Apart from an account of the bibliographical press movement, an assessment of Alexander Mackie's steam type-composing machine and a note on Caslon's punches, there is a full set of the engravings showing the letter construction of romain du roi types cut by Grandjean - these appear for the first time since original publication at the end of the seventeenth century. The journal is excellently designed and produced, square backed with an Ingres paper cover, and is definitely not to be regarded as ephemera. It belongs on the bookshelf. B.G.
A New Book of Alphabets
Gillian Greenwood, Studio Vista Ltd, 9s 6d
Eugen Nerdinger/Lisa Beck, Crosby
Lockwood & Son-Ltd, £4 4s
Type for Books
Cory, Adams & Mackay Ltd, £2 2s
A Manual of Script Typefaces
R. S. Hutchings, Cory, Adams & Mackay Ltd,
Graphic Arts Typebook, Volumes 1 and 2
Reinhold Publishing Corporation, £3 10s
These five books all show typeforms or drawn letterforms, and all repeat material which exists elsewhere. There are so many books showing type specimens that they are really only of use where they either present a new interpretation of type classification or a complete showing of a new or esoteric typeface.
Although A New Book of Alphabets, for example, has a proper use in training students, one can hardly accept the claim that it will be a useful handbook for the practising typographer. But its price makes it most useful for non-specialist students. Alphabets is expensive for what it contains in the way of drawn letterforms, most of which will have a short life. Type for Books is a repetition of the many type manuals for book design produced by book printers to show the stock of their own composing room; and while this is undoubtedly one of the best, it does repeat much material which is available elsewhere. A Manual of Script Typefaces is excellent, with a nine page historical introduction and showings of each alphabet which generally give some historical details of the face. All the alphabets are, of course, to be found elsewhere in separate publications. The Graphic Arts Typebook is not as good as Ben Rosen's Type and Typography (DESIGN 197/66-67), which it duplicates to a large extent. It is, however, only half the price.
When presented with such a collection of books, one's immediate reaction is of confusion at the way the information is presented. This may sound unfair, as every author wishes to select his typefaces to illustrate some hypothesis on what type is about. But there is a tendency for books on type to increase in number at an alarming rate. This tendency seems to be spurred on by the natural affinities between type printing and publishing, combined with the specimen sheets, books and folders produced by reproduction houses and typefounders. Nobody would wish to see a reduction in typographical scholarship. But is it not time for the problem of type publishing to tee tackled in a more serious manner, so that all the information could be co-ordinated and shown on the same sheet? If such a project were supported by the whole of the printing and type founding industry, it would improve the quality of available specimens, cut out this enormous duplication and produce a result that might be much cheaper. The author who had something learned to say which was not essential to the central index could always publish a commentary giving proper references. B.G.
[The cover and two spreads of the first issue of the Journal of the Printing Historical Society, showing the Grandjean grids for the remain du roi. The complete series of 34 plates is shown in this publication.]
[A very clear showing of the now fashionable Melior typeface from A New Book of Alphabets.]
[Alphabets: a spread from a book for those addicted to horrible typefaces.]
[A spread from Type for Books which also gives specimens in various sizes and interlinear spacing.]
[A Manual of Script Typefaces gives a spread to each full alphabet, with a short historical note.]
[Graphic Arts Typebook. an excellent American book which gives complete founts (by the typefounder chosen, rather than by the original typefounder). This book would seem to be very good value as a graphic designer's tool.]