The Needle, Fine Book Printer, Los Angeles.


Bruce McCallister (1881-1945) was a letterpress tramp printer who came out to California from South Dakota to find work.
He arrived in San Francisco in 1906 on the day of the Great San Francisco Earthquake, and soon after made his way to Los Angeles where he found work at Senegram Printers.
In 1912, he formed a partnership with letterpress printer, Frederick Young who emigrated to the states from England.
Their timing dovetailed nicely with the Los Angeles real estate boom and by 1919, they dominated the advertising field with many colorfully printed promotional materials. McCallister was a fine pressman, salesman and innovator.
He launched an in-house bindery and a separate screen printing department to meet the demands for colorful sign and poster printing.
In 1927 McCallister hired a young typographer and book designer, Grant Dahlstrom and pursued the printing of fine press books.
Their first book together, The History of Warner’s Ranch and Its Environs was chosen as one of AIGAs 50 best-designed books of 1927.
A second AIGA award was received for the design and printing of California Hills and Other Wood Engravings by Paul Landacre in 1931.
via Letterology: The Needle Makes a Fine Point for Printing.

Stephenson, Blake Type founders, Sheffield, 1830.


The now defunct, but still fam­ous name of Steph­en­son, Blake was cre­ated when James Blake and John Steph­en­son signed a part­ner­ship agree­ment on 25 Septem­ber 1830 to last until 1840.
The agree­ment was renewed, and the name per­sisted, absorb­ing many other type foundries in the inter­ven­ing years.
The foundry had always been based around Upper Allen Street in Sheffield
The foundry had been in Shef­field in one form or another since around 1797 when a local book­seller (John Slater) and a bookseller-printer (Wil­liam Bower) joined forces with a printer (Clay Bacon) to cast type, issu­ing their first spe­ci­men in 1809.
That found­ing work had per­sisted under many names until taken on by Gar­nett and Blake, and then becom­ing Steph­en­son, Blake.
Since the earli­est times Stephenson, Blake had worked to 1/5000th of an inch as a mat­ter of course: the type they foun­ded was con­sidered the most pre­cise in the United Kingdom.
A Lon­don ware­house was opened in 1865 to sup­ply the demands of Fleet Street news­pa­pers.
Busi­ness was so good that they removed to lar­ger Lon­don premises on Alder­sgate Street in 1871.
The next major change was the move to the Amer­ican Point sys­tem which had been adop­ted by Amer­ica in 1886.
Some firms in the United Kingdom were quick to adopt this change, Stephenson, Blake renewed their moulds and matrices to work on the new American point sys­tem.
via Stephenson, Blake | British Letterpress.

The Handbook of the Carnival, New Orleans 1874.


Female Eye costume design, Krewe of Comus, New Orleans Mardi Gras, 1869 – Wikimedia Commons.
Fascinating little book offering a brilliantly detailed insight into the 19th century New Orleans Mardi-Gras tradition, including a history of the Mistick Krewe of Comus, The Twelfth Night Revellers, and The Knights of Momus.
1916ComusArtFloatNew Orleans Mardi Gras, 1916. Depiction of Comus parade float with art theme.
From Wikipedia: In Greek mythology, Comus or Komos (Ancient Greek: Κῶμος) is the god of festivity, revels and nocturnal dalliances. He is a son and a cup-bearer of the god Bacchus.
Comus represents anarchy and chaos. His mythology occurs in the later times of antiquity. During his festivals in Ancient Greece, men and women exchanged clothes.
He was depicted as a young man on the point of unconsciousness from drink. He had a wreath of flowers on his head and carried a torch that was in the process of being dropped.
Read and see more via Hand Book of the Carnival, Containing Mardi-Gras, its Ancient and Modern Observance (1874) | The Public Domain Review.

Making Playing Cards, during the reign of Louis XIV, France.

Is this an image of a librarian carefully reaching for a carefully placed book, carefully arranged in a carefully-odd Borgesian-style library housing only books of the same height and thickness?
Or is this a librarian in a Library of the Same Book, housing thousands of copies of copies of the same book, climbing the ladder to make sure that he had a copy of just the copy that was requested (“a copy held at least 5 feet from the ground, near a side window though not touching a vertical piece of wood”)?
Neither. These are shelves filled with nothing but uncut sheets of playing cards, housed for the playing card factory somewhere in Paris (?) “during the reign of Louis XIV”.
Playing cards, which were introduced to Europe via Marco Polo from China or traders coming from the Middle East or etc., are much older in Europe than one would think, I think, and by the time this print was made, playing cards were already quite popular there for two centuries.
I can’t identify all of the activities of all of the twelve tables of card preparation here, though some seem pretty obvious: the trimmer working near the pressman, the sorters and assemblers of decks of cards at the lower left corner, the paper preparer (?) just to the right of the man on the ladder, the pair of men preparing the type trays at middle-bottom, and that’s about it.
In any event I’m right or I’m wrong on this guess, about the same odds as being dealt “nothing” in a game of five-card poker (almost 1:1 odds), but that’s fine: I just like the composition of the print.
Read on via Ptak Science Books: Beautiful books.

Dyslexia or Word Blindness.

Photographic Image: British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was a very famous person with Dyslexia.
Dyslexia defined by Google search is a: “Developmental reading disorder is a reading disability that occurs when the brain does not properly recognize and process certain symbols.” Wow, that is so clinical and precise.
Dyslexia is much more than a learning disability. Yet before the 1900′s, this childhood development was the subject of much conjecture and how children learned was still pretty much theorised.
A plethora of terms was used to describe the problem such as “word blindness” or “strephosymbolia.”
It was 1878 when German neurologist, Adolph Kussmaul, coined the phrase “word blindness” describing what we know as dyslexia today.
He had a special interest in adults with reading problems who also had neurological impairment.
He noticed that several of his patients could not read properly and regularly used words in the wrong order. He introduced the term ‘word blindness’ to describe their difficulties.
The phrase, word blindness, then began to be used regularly in the medical journals to describe adults and children who had difficulty learning to read.
This phrase also conveyed the fact that these patients were neurologically impaired. ~ Understanding Dyslexia: A Guide for Teachers and Parents: The history of dyslexia
In 1887, a German opthalmologist, Rudolf Berlin, was the first to use the word ‘dyslexia’ but it wasn’t widely used or accepted to replace the “word blindness” as of yet.
It’s like Manic Depressive Disorder perfectly describes the condition… Whereas Bipolar Disorder took a while to catch on. Seems the same was true for “word blindness” that perfectly describes dyslexia, where we skipped words, suffixes and endings.
“Dyslexia appeared in 1891 with a report in The Lancet medical journal by Dr Dejerne.”
Ah, ha just when you think Dyslexia would go mainstream:
“Dr James Hinshelwood, a Scottish eye surgeon, published an account of a patient who had reading difficulties and also a congenital defect in the brain related to eyesight.
From this evidence, he concluded that the cause of reading difficulties was a malfunction of eyesight as a result of a brain defect.
Dr Hinshelwood’s work reinforced the use of the term word blindness and this phrase persisted throughout the early twentieth century.”
Read further via The History Of Dyslexia | Mental Health Humor.

Bertha Goudy, Type Designer.

berthamgoudy-portraitBertha M. Sprinks Goudy, American, 1869-1935
Bertha Goudy was a bookkeeper when she married a fellow bookkeeper, Frederic William Goudy (1865-1947), in 1897.
Fred Goudy would later become arguably the most admired and well-known of American twentieth-century type designers.
The posthumous tributes which appeared in Bookmaking on the Distaff Side (1937), and Bertha S. Goudy, First Lady of Printing (1958) make it clear, however, that her contributions were of the greatest significance to their joint enterprises.
Bertha herself, for example, cut their 24-point Deepdene italic design, and set the type for much of the output of the Village Press, which they founded together with Will Ransom, in 1903. Printing, an Essay by William Morris & Emery Walker, was their first publication, and their designs continue Morris’s revival of fine craftsmanship in the book arts.
Fred Goudy’s own touching tribute to his wife reveals her importance to him and to their work:
To me she was “my beloved helpmate.” She encouraged me when my own courage faltered; uncomplaining she endured the privations and vicissitudes of our early companionship; her intelligent and ready counsel I welcomed and valued; her consummate craftsmanship made possible many difficult undertakings.
She ever sought to minimize any exploitation of her great attainments, that the acclaim which rightfully belonged to her should come, instead, to me.
For two-score years she unselfishly aided me in every way in my work in the fields of type design and typography, and enabled me to secure a measure of success which alone could never have been mine.
via Unseen Hands: Bertha M. Sprinks Goudy.