The typographer, writer, and historian of printing Beatrice Warde was educated at Barnard College, Columbia, where she developed an interest in calligraphy and letterforms.
From 1921-1925 Warde was the assistant librarian at the American Type Founders Company, pursuing her research into typefaces and the history of printing.
In 1925 she married the book and type designer Frederic Warde, Director of Printing at the Princeton University Press. The couple moved to Europe, where Beatrice worked on The Fleuron: A Journal of Typography, then edited by Stanley Morison.
Her reputation was established by an article she published in the 1926 issue The Fleuron, written under the pseudonym “Paul Beaujon,” which traced types mistakenly attributed to Garamond back to Jean Jannon of Sedan.
In 1927 she became editor of The Monotype Recorder, in London. Beatrice Warde was a believer in the power of the printed word to defend freedom, and she designed and printed her famous manifesto, This Is A Printing Office, in 1932, using Eric Gill’s Perpetua typeface.
She rejected the avant-garde in typography, believing that classical forms provided a “clearly polished window” through which ideas could be communicated.
The Crystal Goblet: Sixteen Essays on Typography (1955) is an anthology of her writings.
by 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.
Wood type letter “E” from an advertisement in the October 20, 1883 issue of the newspaper, Weekly Drug News and American Pharmacist.
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.
AS AN APPRENTICE compositor I was sometimes roped into operating the Monotype caster.
The hypnotic clackety clack sounds stay with me now! In idle moments I would place individual types on the edge of the melting pot and watch them as they rapidly dissolved back into molten metal, their short lives curtailed in moments.
I learned a trick that gave me lots of ‘cred’ with my colleagues – I would secretly coat my forefinger with thick machine oil and then much to the astonishment of onlookers plunge said finger into the melting pot.
Timing was crucial and after mentally counting out ‘one thousand, two thousand’ I would withdraw my by now smoking finger.
Had to get it right though as mistakes could be very painful.
This may have contravened modern health and safety legislation I suspect.
via Metal Type UK
Photo from Left to Right: Rex (Fritzy) Wells, Glyn Paul, Jim Hosking and the one and only Bruce Lockier.
Everyone please note that the compositors in this photograph are wearing a tie with a white shirt. It was the uniform of the day for the mid-century tradespeople.
What Bloody Wankers they were back then…
Thanks to Russell Wight (Sojar) for the use of this photograph.
In 1912 the patents covering the basic mechanism of the Linotype expired and a group of investors and former Merganthaler Linotype employees formed the International Typesetting Machine Company (later changed to the Intertype Company).
The general principles of operation of the Linotype and Intertype are exactly the same—in fact, most of the matrices are interchangeable.
The founders of the new company felt that the marketplace was ripe for a competitor to Linotype, and felt that they could produce a machine with enough improvements to create that competition.
By most accounts they did; the Intertype is a simpler machine than the Linotype, and incorporated a number of improvements, while retaining the same functionality.
They also created the ability to easily expand the machine, something not true of the Linotype.
The Intertype was the backbone of the Old Guv’s Hot Metal production of (Hansard) Parliamentary Debates for the South Australian Government over many years.
The Intertype like the Linotype was a slug casting machine with a keyboard set up all of its own.
No qwerty keyboard here!
On a hot Adelaide day it could be quite unpleasant working the Intertypes with their hot metal pots all heating up the room. We had a battery of around 15 or so machines.
The Hansard night shift was a marathon event, with 12 hour shifts not uncommon.
Overall the Intertype and Linotype were very reliable and for a period of time revolutionised the trade of hot metal compostion.