Oscar Wilde’s Lipstick Smeared Tomb.

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The memorial of the famous 19th century Irish writer and poet, Oscar Wilde, lies in a cemetery in Paris.
Chiseled out of a 20-tonne block of stone, the tomb features a winged figure resembling the Sphinx on a forward flight with vertically outstretched wings, and is supposed to be based on Wilde’s poem The Sphinx and inspired by the British Museum’s Assyrian figures.
For years, female fans have visited the huge memorial in Paris’s largest cemetery Pére Lachaise to pay homage to the Irish playwright and left their mark in red lipstick.
Over thousands of lipstick kisses and graffiti messages cover the bottom half of the tomb.
The practice started in the late 1990s, when somebody decided to leave a lipstick kiss on the tomb.
Since then lipstick kisses and hearts have been joined by a rash of red graffiti containing expressions of love, such as: “Wilde child we remember you”, “Keep looking at the stars” and “Real beauty ends where intellect begins”.
Kissing Oscar’s tomb on the Paris tourist circuit has become a cult pastime.
Photo Credit – Musely: 
via Oscar Wilde’s Lipstick-Covered Tomb in Paris | Amusing Planet.

The Wharfedale Printing Press.

wharfedale-1024x526The Wharfedale is one of a spe­cial fam­ily of presses-the ‘stop cyl­in­der’ presses.
The forme moves back­wards and for­wards on a flat-bed, and the impres­sion is made by a rotat­ing cyl­in­der.
Paper is gripped on the cyl­in­der. In com­mon with proof­ing presses, the force of the impres­sion is delivered in a thin strip (just where the cyl­in­der hits the forme). This allows for a greater pre­ci­sion of impression.
The press has a long his­tory: in 1830 Wil­liam Dawson, a joiner from Otley in West York­shire, made a ‘rul­ing machine’ from wood. This expos­ure to print­ers led to more work sup­ply­ing print­ers.
Across the UK in Ulver­ston, Stephen Soulby pat­en­ted a print­ing machine where the cyl­in­der rolled over a sta­tion­ary forme. He called the press the ‘Ulver­sto­nian’ but had little suc­cess with it and was poin­ted in the dir­ec­tion of Dawson in Otley. I assume Dawson developed Soulby’s ideas with him.
In 1855 the first machine was sent from Otley-on the banks of the river Wharfe — at a cost of £60 and was cap­able of pro­du­cing 500 impres­sions per hour. At that time twenty men were employed in this work.
By 1911 between two and three thou­sand men were engaged in build­ing this type of press along the Wharfe at dif­fer­ent works: Dawsons, Payne, Folds and so on.
Wharfedales were able to deliver between two and three thou­sand impres­sions per hour.
via Wharfedale | British Letterpress.

‘Extreme Typography’ from Sheaff Ephemera.

m150by Richard Sheaff.
During the Victorian era, there was an explosion of elaborate typefaces, as foundries outdid themselves to keep up with the demand from printers for novel, splashy type.
The number and variety of imaginative typefaces generated from, say, 1870 to 1900 is astonishing. Many of them—most would agree—went too far, as type designers strove for innovation above all.
Many period fonts are difficult to decipher; some are virtually unreadable.
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Wood type letter “E” from an advertisement in the October 20, 1883 issue of the newspaper, Weekly Drug News and American Pharmacist.
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Engraved trade card ( Sheaff collection)
But those foundry offerings are not what concerns me here. Rather, I’ve been digging through the shoeboxes looking for examples of quirky, radical, idiosyncratic type usages, constructions (mostly) built by hand.
I’m looking at examples of extreme typography prior to 1900 or so . . . rather than at (equally interesting) later things like Russian Constructivism, Haight-Ashbury or Herb Lubalin.
Here, too, will be found some examples of type-only design solutions.
Guess what English language letter is intended by the red initial cap above (no, it is not in Yiddish)?
Read more via Extreme Typography | Sheaff : ephemera.

John Steinbeck, Author,

c1f7e715c890be088c0c3736874John Steinbeck III (February 27, 1902—December 20, 1968) was one of the best-known and most widely read American writers of the 20th century.
He wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath, published in 1939 and the novella Of Mice and Men, published in 1937.
In all, he wrote twenty-five books, including sixteen novels, six non-fiction books and several collections of short stories. In 1962 Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Steinbeck grew up in the Salinas Valley region of California, a culturally diverse place of rich migratory and immigrant history.
This upbringing imparted a regionalistic flavor to his writing, giving many of his works a distinct sense of place. Steinbeck moved briefly to New York City, but soon returned home to California to begin his career as a writer.
Most of his earlier work dealt with subjects familiar to him from his formative years. An exception was his first novel Cup of Gold which concerns the pirate Henry Morgan, whose adventures had captured Steinbeck’s imagination as a child.
In his subsequent novels, Steinbeck found a more authentic voice by drawing upon direct memories of his life in California. Later he used real historical conditions and events in the first half of 20th century America, which he had experienced first-hand as a reporter.
Steinbeck often populated his stories with struggling characters; his works examined the lives of the working class and migrant workers during the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression.
Seventeen of his works, including The Grapes of Wrath (1940), Cannery Row (1945), The Pearl (1947), and East of Eden (1952), went on to become Hollywood films (some appeared multiple times, i.e., as remakes), and Steinbeck also achieved success as a Hollywood writer, receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Story in 1944 for Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat.
via Reference.com

What Causes the Smell of Old Books?

shakespeareEveryone’s familiar with the smell of old books, the weirdly intoxicating scent that haunts libraries and second-hand book stores.
Similarly, who doesn’t enjoy riffling through the pages of a newly purchased book and breathing in the crisp aroma of new paper and freshly printed ink? As with all aromas, the origins can be traced back to a number of chemical constituents, so we can examine the processes and compounds that can contribute to both.
As far as the smell of new books goes, it’s actually quite difficult to pinpoint specific compounds, for a number of reasons. Firstly, there seems to be a scarcity of scientific research that’s been carried out on the subject – to be fair, it’s understandable why it might not exactly be high up on the priority list.
Secondly, the variation in the chemicals used to manufacture books also means that it’s an aroma that will vary from book to book. Add to this the fact that there are literally hundreds of compounds involved, and it becomes clearer why it evades attribution to a small selection of chemicals.
It’s likely that the bulk of ‘new book smell’ can be put down to three main sources: the paper itself (and the chemicals used in its manufacture), the inks used to print the book, and the adhesives used in the book-binding process.

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The manufacture of paper requires the use of chemicals at several stages. Large amounts of paper are made from wood pulp (though it can also be made from cotton and textiles) – chemicals such as sodium hydroxide, often referred to in this context as ‘caustic soda’, can be added to increase pH and cause fibres in the pulp to swell.
The fibres are then bleached with a number of other chemicals, including hydrogen peroxide; then, they are mixed with large amounts of water. This water will contain additives to modify the properties of the the paper – for example, AKD (alkyl ketene dimer) is commonly used as a ‘sizing agent’ to improve the water-resistance of the paper.
Many other chemicals are also used – this is just a very rough overview. The upshot of this is that some of these chemicals can contribute, through their reactions or otherwise, to the release of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air, the odours of which we can detect.
The same is true of chemicals used in the inks, and the adhesives used in the books. A number of different adhesives are used for book-binding, many of which are based on organic ‘co-polymers’ – large numbers of smaller molecules chemically chained together.
As stated, differences in paper, adhesives, and inks used will influence the ‘new book smell’, so not all new books will smell the same – perhaps the reason why no research has yet attempted to definitively define the aroma.
Read more via What Causes the Smell of New & Old Books? | Compound Interest.

The Nebitype, the Hot Metal Typesetter from Hell.

1967t01The Year was 1968. I was completing my composing apprenticeship with the Griffin Press, Marion Road, Netley.
My foreman was Alf Freeman, a bald Englishman who had come from England to originally work at the Government Printing Office.
Alf had left after a couple of years for the Griffin.
There I met Nick Penn, Colin Rawlings, Rod Baker, Ted Powell, Ken Simpson, Doug Long and Norm Morcombe all who went on to work at the Old Guv from the 1970s onwards.
However, the point of this tale is to get you to look at the above typecating machine, the Nebitype.
It was made by the Nebiolo Company of Italy. The Nebitype was a line casting typesetter that spewed a single lead printing slug around 40 picas in length.
It was vaguely similar to the Ludlow Typesetter.
But there the similarity ended, unlike the Nebitype the Ludlow was a very reliable American typesetting machine.
But there was a problem with the Nebitype during its casting cycle and I suspected there was something up when the tradesmen refused to work it.
It was left up to the apprentices, especially the new ones, like me!
The Nebitype had a mind of its own and would often spray molten lead into the air.
Luckily, there was a comp. called Ken Costello (a ballroom dancing champion) who showed me the Nebitype survival plan.
You would place the setting stick in the jaws of the machine and then everyone would scatter.
Ken Costello had a rope tied to the casting handle and the other apprentices would hide behind a typesetting frame for safety.

Meanwhile, Ken would wave a red warning flag to keep people away.
Before hiding you tugged the rope, uttered a short prayer and the machine would shudder into action.
Did it work properly this time? Was the floor covered with molten lead?
It certainly made life interesting in the Griffin Press comp. room.
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