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Re: Summer reading....

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  • Gerald Lange
    Paul _Type: The Secret History of Letters_ by Simon Loxley is relatively new and on my list to do. Lightweight enough to carry to the beach and seemingly in
    Message 1 of 14 , Jul 1, 2004
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      Paul

      _Type: The Secret History of Letters_ by Simon Loxley is relatively new
      and on my list to do. Lightweight enough to carry to the beach and
      seemingly in its story line as well. Seems to be a retelling of the
      Anglo-American type saga with a bit of an odd and ill thought out
      conclusion. I always peruse the last chapter first!!! Some not oft seen
      photos, nice one of Emery Walker, another of Edward Johnston with goose
      quill in hand...

      Gerald

      Paul W. Romaine wrote:

      >Hello folks,
      >
      >Now that the July Fourth holiday is almost upon us in the US, I have a
      >rather interesting request from someone writing an article on summer
      >reading of recent books related to the history of printing, type, books,
      >and all the arts of the book. Her "summer reading list" has some "heavies"
      >as well as some light (weight) reading.
      >
      >What are you reading, planning to read or have already read this summer?
      >And why? (And no jokes about bullies kicking sand in your face for bringing
      >Richard-Gabriel Rummonds's _Printing on the Iron Handpress_ [1988] or the
      >forthcoming _Nineteenth-Century Printing Practices And The Iron Handpress_ !)
      >
      >Me? I'm reading the current issue of _Parenthesis_ journal of the Fine
      >Press Book Association, and some biographies of Benjamin Franklin (for the
      >tercentenary). I also have a stack of old reading to get to--mostly old
      >manuals. If possible, I'll pass along comments from our author.
      >
      >All best,
      >
      >Paul
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >Paul W. Romaine
      >romaine@...
      >http://home.pipeline.com/~romaine
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
    • John Risseeuw
      A suggestion on the lighter, fiction end is Salamander by Thomas Wharton, Washington Square Press, 2002. He writes about a printer like he actually knows what
      Message 2 of 14 , Jul 1, 2004
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        A suggestion on the lighter, fiction end is Salamander by Thomas Wharton,
        Washington Square Press, 2002. He writes about a printer like he actually
        knows what goes on, at least to an extent, in a printshop. The Amazon
        summary follows:

        "Nicholas Flood, an unassuming eighteenth-century London printer,
        specializes in novelty books - books that nestle into one another, books
        comprised of one spare sentence, books that emit the sounds of crashing
        waves. When his work captures the attention of an eccentric Slovakian
        count, Flood is summoned to a faraway castle - a moving labyrinth that
        embodies the count's obsession with puzzles - where he is commissioned to
        create the infinite book, the ultimate never-ending story. Probing the
        nature of books, the human thirst for knowledge, and the pursuit of
        immortality, Salamander careens through myth and metaphor as Flood travels
        the globe in search of materials for the elusive book without end."

        Also, John Dunning has a new mystery out in his series about a rare book
        store owner/former cop. This one is called The Bookman's Promise, but the
        second one, Bookman's Wake, has fictional printing brothers loosely based
        on the Grabhorns and has a fair amount of printshop info included. They're
        fun reads.

        John L. Risseeuw, Professor
        Director, Pyracantha Press
        School of Art
        Box 871505
        Arizona State University
        Tempe, Arizona 85287-1505
        480-965-3713 office; 480-965-8338 fax
      • Gerald Lange
        Joe Smeijers also has a new book out which might be of interest to you, _Type Now: A Manifesto_. This. for the most part, fills in here and there about
        Message 3 of 14 , Jul 2, 2004
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          Joe

          Smeijers also has a new book out which might be of interest to you, _Type Now: A Manifesto_. This. for the most part, fills in here and there about Smeijers and his work. The title is a very strange one though.

          Kinross has published some very brilliant books such as _Counter Punch_ and _Modern Typography_ (actually the second edition of his _Modern Typography_ is also quite recently released) but when he does the buddy buddy documentation thing with his pals, he fails miserably. This is one of those. Though there are some pearls in _Type Now_, I thought it much too disconnected, unfocused, and all over the place, in a manner that has become a typical and unfortunate Kinross editorial tendency.

          Gerald


          --- In PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com, <jranneba@u...> wrote:
          > Hello,
          >
          > I am reading "Counter Punch: Making Type in the Sixteenth
          > Century, Designing Typefaces Now" by Fred Smeijers. So far,
          > pretty interesting!
          >
          > Joe
          >
          > ---- Original message ----
          > >Date: Thu, 01 Jul 2004 11:49:26 -0400
          > >From: "Paul W. Romaine" <romaine@p...>
          > >Subject: [PPLetterpress] Summer reading....
          > >To: PPLetterpress <PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com>
          > >
          > > Hello folks,
          > >
          > > Now that the July Fourth holiday is almost upon us
          > > in the US, I have a
          > > rather interesting request from someone writing an
          > > article on summer
          > > reading of recent books related to the history of
          > > printing, type, books,
          > > and all the arts of the book. Her "summer reading
          > > list" has some "heavies"
          > > as well as some light (weight) reading.
          > >
          > > What are you reading, planning to read or have
          > > already read this summer?
          > > And why? (And no jokes about bullies kicking sand in
          > > your face for bringing
          > > Richard-Gabriel Rummonds's _Printing on the Iron
          > > Handpress_ [1988] or the
          > > forthcoming _Nineteenth-Century Printing Practices
          > > And The Iron Handpress_ !)
          > >
          > > Me? I'm reading the current issue of _Parenthesis_
          > > journal of the Fine
          > > Press Book Association, and some biographies of
          > > Benjamin Franklin (for the
          > > tercentenary). I also have a stack of old reading to
          > > get to--mostly old
          > > manuals. If possible, I'll pass along comments from
          > > our author.
          > >
          > > All best,
          > >
          > > Paul
          > >
          > > Paul W. Romaine
          > > romaine@p...
          > > http://home.pipeline.com/~romaine
          > >
          > > Yahoo! Groups Sponsor
          > > ADVERTISEMENT
          > > click here
          > >
          > > ----------------------------------------------------
          > >
          > > Yahoo! Groups Links
          > > * To visit your group on the web, go to:
          > > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PPLetterpress/
          > >
          > > * To unsubscribe from this group, send an email
          > > to:
          > > PPLetterpress-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
          > >
          > > * Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the
          > > Yahoo! Terms of Service.
          > Joe Rannebarger
          > CITES Customer Service
          > Suite 1608
          > 302 E John St
          > Champaign, IL 61820
          > jranneba@u...
          > 217-333-1161
        • jranneba@uiuc.edu
          Thank you, Gerald. I will certainly take a look at these. Joe ... Joe Rannebarger CITES Customer Service Suite 1608 302 E John St Champaign, IL 61820
          Message 4 of 14 , Jul 2, 2004
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            Thank you, Gerald. I will certainly take a look at these.
            Joe

            ---- Original message ----
            >Date: Fri, 02 Jul 2004 07:27:39 -0000
            >From: "Gerald Lange" <bieler@...>
            >Subject: [PPLetterpress] Re: Summer reading....
            >To: PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com
            >
            > Joe
            >
            > Smeijers also has a new book out which might be of
            > interest to you, _Type Now: A Manifesto_. This. for
            > the most part, fills in here and there about
            > Smeijers and his work. The title is a very strange
            > one though.
            >
            > Kinross has published some very brilliant books such
            > as _Counter Punch_ and _Modern Typography_ (actually
            > the second edition of his _Modern Typography_ is
            > also quite recently released) but when he does the
            > buddy buddy documentation thing with his pals, he
            > fails miserably. This is one of those. Though there
            > are some pearls in _Type Now_, I thought it much too
            > disconnected, unfocused, and all over the place, in
            > a manner that has become a typical and unfortunate
            > Kinross editorial tendency.
            >
            > Gerald
            >
            > --- In PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com,
            > <jranneba@u...> wrote:
            > > Hello,
            > >
            > > I am reading "Counter Punch: Making Type in the
            > Sixteenth
            > > Century, Designing Typefaces Now" by Fred
            > Smeijers. So far,
            > > pretty interesting!
            > >
            > > Joe
            > >
            > > ---- Original message ----
            > > >Date: Thu, 01 Jul 2004 11:49:26 -0400
            > > >From: "Paul W. Romaine" <romaine@p...>
            > > >Subject: [PPLetterpress] Summer reading....
            > > >To: PPLetterpress <PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com>
            > > >
            > > > Hello folks,
            > > >
            > > > Now that the July Fourth holiday is almost
            > upon us
            > > > in the US, I have a
            > > > rather interesting request from someone
            > writing an
            > > > article on summer
            > > > reading of recent books related to the history
            > of
            > > > printing, type, books,
            > > > and all the arts of the book. Her "summer
            > reading
            > > > list" has some "heavies"
            > > > as well as some light (weight) reading.
            > > >
            > > > What are you reading, planning to read or have
            > > > already read this summer?
            > > > And why? (And no jokes about bullies kicking
            > sand in
            > > > your face for bringing
            > > > Richard-Gabriel Rummonds's _Printing on the
            > Iron
            > > > Handpress_ [1988] or the
            > > > forthcoming _Nineteenth-Century Printing
            > Practices
            > > > And The Iron Handpress_ !)
            > > >
            > > > Me? I'm reading the current issue of
            > _Parenthesis_
            > > > journal of the Fine
            > > > Press Book Association, and some biographies
            > of
            > > > Benjamin Franklin (for the
            > > > tercentenary). I also have a stack of old
            > reading to
            > > > get to--mostly old
            > > > manuals. If possible, I'll pass along
            > comments from
            > > > our author.
            > > >
            > > > All best,
            > > >
            > > > Paul
            > > >
            > > > Paul W. Romaine
            > > > romaine@p...
            > > > http://home.pipeline.com/~romaine
            > > >
            > > > Yahoo! Groups
            > Sponsor
            > > >
            > ADVERTISEMENT
            > > > click
            > here
            > > >
            > > >
            > ----------------------------------------------------
            > > >
            > > > Yahoo! Groups Links
            > > > * To visit your group on the web, go to:
            > > >
            > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PPLetterpress/
            > > >
            > > > * To unsubscribe from this group, send an
            > email
            > > > to:
            > > > PPLetterpress-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
            > > >
            > > > * Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to
            > the
            > > > Yahoo! Terms of Service.
            > > Joe Rannebarger
            > > CITES Customer Service
            > > Suite 1608
            > > 302 E John St
            > > Champaign, IL 61820
            > > jranneba@u...
            > > 217-333-1161
            >
            > Yahoo! Groups Sponsor
            > ADVERTISEMENT
            > click here
            >
            > ----------------------------------------------------
            >
            > Yahoo! Groups Links
            > * To visit your group on the web, go to:
            > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PPLetterpress/
            >
            > * To unsubscribe from this group, send an email
            > to:
            > PPLetterpress-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
            >
            > * Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the
            > Yahoo! Terms of Service.
            Joe Rannebarger
            CITES Customer Service
            Suite 1608
            302 E John St
            Champaign, IL 61820
            jranneba@...
            217-333-1161
          • Kathy Walkup
            I happened to be in London when Smeijers spoke at St. Bride s Printing Library about Type Now (which I agree is a disappointing book). There were well over 100
            Message 5 of 14 , Jul 2, 2004
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              I happened to be in London when Smeijers spoke at St. Bride's Printing
              Library about Type Now (which I agree is a disappointing book). There were
              well over 100 people there, all clapping wildly (or the polite British
              equivalent thereof) during Smeijers' quite interesting talk. I was made
              aware again of the kind of gap that Robin Kinross is filling in with his
              books, especially his own Modern Typography. Like Gerald I strongly
              recommend watching for any of the intriguing and beautifully designed and
              produced Hyphen Press books; we need to support these kinds of publishing efforts these
              days when running an indpendent press like Kinross's is nearly impossible.

              As for summer reading, Simon Loxley's book is also on my list.

              Best,

              Kathy


              Kathleen A. Walkup
              Associate Professor
              Director, Book Arts Program
              Mills College
              5000 MacArthur Blvd.
              Oakland CA 94613

              510 430 2001/tel
              510 430 3314/fax
              kwalk@...

              On Fri, 2 Jul 2004, Gerald Lange wrote:

              > Joe
              >
              > Smeijers also has a new book out which might be of interest to you, _Type Now: A Manifesto_. This. for the most part, fills in here and there about Smeijers and his work. The title is a very strange one though.
              >
              > Kinross has published some very brilliant books such as _Counter Punch_ and _Modern Typography_ (actually the second edition of his _Modern Typography_ is also quite recently released) but when he does the buddy buddy documentation thing with his pals, he fails miserably. This is one of those. Though there are some pearls in _Type Now_, I thought it much too disconnected, unfocused, and all over the place, in a manner that has become a typical and unfortunate Kinross editorial tendency.
              >
              > Gerald
              >
              >
              > --- In PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com, <jranneba@u...> wrote:
              > > Hello,
              > >
              > > I am reading "Counter Punch: Making Type in the Sixteenth
              > > Century, Designing Typefaces Now" by Fred Smeijers. So far,
              > > pretty interesting!
              > >
              > > Joe
              > >
              > > ---- Original message ----
              > > >Date: Thu, 01 Jul 2004 11:49:26 -0400
              > > >From: "Paul W. Romaine" <romaine@p...>
              > > >Subject: [PPLetterpress] Summer reading....
              > > >To: PPLetterpress <PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com>
              > > >
              > > > Hello folks,
              > > >
              > > > Now that the July Fourth holiday is almost upon us
              > > > in the US, I have a
              > > > rather interesting request from someone writing an
              > > > article on summer
              > > > reading of recent books related to the history of
              > > > printing, type, books,
              > > > and all the arts of the book. Her "summer reading
              > > > list" has some "heavies"
              > > > as well as some light (weight) reading.
              > > >
              > > > What are you reading, planning to read or have
              > > > already read this summer?
              > > > And why? (And no jokes about bullies kicking sand in
              > > > your face for bringing
              > > > Richard-Gabriel Rummonds's _Printing on the Iron
              > > > Handpress_ [1988] or the
              > > > forthcoming _Nineteenth-Century Printing Practices
              > > > And The Iron Handpress_ !)
              > > >
              > > > Me? I'm reading the current issue of _Parenthesis_
              > > > journal of the Fine
              > > > Press Book Association, and some biographies of
              > > > Benjamin Franklin (for the
              > > > tercentenary). I also have a stack of old reading to
              > > > get to--mostly old
              > > > manuals. If possible, I'll pass along comments from
              > > > our author.
              > > >
              > > > All best,
              > > >
              > > > Paul
              > > >
              > > > Paul W. Romaine
              > > > romaine@p...
              > > > http://home.pipeline.com/~romaine
              > > >
              > > > Yahoo! Groups Sponsor
              > > > ADVERTISEMENT
              > > > click here
              > > >
              > > > ----------------------------------------------------
              > > >
              > > > Yahoo! Groups Links
              > > > * To visit your group on the web, go to:
              > > > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PPLetterpress/
              > > >
              > > > * To unsubscribe from this group, send an email
              > > > to:
              > > > PPLetterpress-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
              > > >
              > > > * Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the
              > > > Yahoo! Terms of Service.
              > > Joe Rannebarger
              > > CITES Customer Service
              > > Suite 1608
              > > 302 E John St
              > > Champaign, IL 61820
              > > jranneba@u...
              > > 217-333-1161
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              > Yahoo! Groups Links
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
            • Paul W Romaine
              Rufo, You ve made some interesting remarks and I agree with many of them. However, I m not so sure about carving punches and then scanning smoke proofs,
              Message 6 of 14 , Jul 3, 2004
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                Rufo,

                You've made some interesting remarks and I agree with many of them.

                However, I'm not so sure about carving punches and then scanning smoke
                proofs, although Jim Rimmer may have done this. What's the point?
                Harry Carter's son, Matthew, actually apprenticed as a punch-cutter.
                He may be the only digital designer today who has worked hands-on in
                all major typographic format: foundry type, hot metal, photo fonts and
                digital. (I may be wrong about his working in hot metal, and I assume
                his Linotype work was on photo fonts.) Matthew is emphatic about the
                improvement of digital over actual punch-cutting. He points out, as
                Smeijers does, that a single mistake at the end of the day could
                destroy an entire 8 hours' work. Matthew fully agrees with the
                "sculptural" point that Smeijers makes.

                I think the author of the up-coming article did in fact include Harry
                Carter's _Early View_ because it was recently re-issued (Eric Gill,
                too, right?). It's a classic, and a such a relief from American and
                contemporary prose.

                I didn't mention it, but the new edition of John Carter's _ABCs of
                Book Collecting_ has just come out. It's distinctive in this (9th?)
                edition because Nicolas Barker has finally received co-author credit
                on the titlepage. (And I just told Nicolas Barker about an omission
                and a couple errors.) The prose still shines. I especially remember
                Carter's (relatively unchanged) entry on "Condition."

                > And what bully would dare kick sand your way if you're walking
                around
                > swinging a big-ass book like "Printing on the Iron Hand Press"?

                A couple people have pointed this out to me privately. But I still
                remember bringing my copy of the Modern Library edition of Plutarch to
                the Jersey shore as a teenager.... Don't ask why or how!

                All best,
                Paul
              • Gerald Lange
                Rufo A very intriguing and thought provoking post. As far as I can discern from reading Smeijers _Type Now_ it does not seem that he has cut a complete
                Message 7 of 14 , Jul 6, 2004
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                  Rufo

                  A very intriguing and thought provoking post.

                  As far as I can discern from reading Smeijers'_Type Now_ it does not seem that he has cut a complete alphabet from punches. His idea that the way type was cut and later, designed, results in a significantly "different" letterform is hardly a new observation. But drawn faces are also a great part of metal type during the twentieth century. There were very few (relatively) twentieth century metal typefaces that would have been hand cut from punches. The schism between the punch cutter and the drawn metal face created with the pantograph is
                  probably a much greater one than that of the pantograph and the digital.

                  On the other hand, I have seen it argued, though rarely, that the cutting of letters was more a violation of letterform than the drawing. One would have to discern how significant the differences are between drawn or sculpturally created letterforms of antiquity to secure a position in what is obviously a fairly untraveled argument.

                  The early printers were using the only technology at hand in their attempt to perfect mechanical writing. I just point this out. It was the only way to standardize the written letterform. But punchcutting drew from the numismatic world rather than the traditional world of the scribe. The Carter book is, I think, the most important thinking on the early manufacture of type. And requires a great deal of rereading. Though I have the first edition I was quite pleased that Kinross reprinted it. Note though, how Carter hardly mentions Gutenberg, and when he does, it is a query. More is not said there than was said.

                  But the way we see the development of metal type today may very well be incorrect. The very recent investigations of the DK-type (historically attributed to Gutenberg) have provided a much more interesting view of possible early metal type production. One that is more probably aligned with letterform structure and of significance, I think, in the way digital letterforms are themselves often constructed.

                  But I think a reasoned examination of the intentions of the early printers and the later ability to actually "draw" letterforms mechanically provides a very good rationale for the use of photopolymer. You surmise a preservation act, I see it as much more.

                  I was going to also refer you to the Andy Crewdson interview with Robin Kinross (publisher of Hyphen) at Andy's new-series.org but the link seems to be broken. Anyone know what happened to Andy's site?

                  Gerald


                  > Yes, I really liked "Counter Punch"; it rearranged my thinking
                  > regarding the way type could be designed. I never saw how the sometimes
                  > contrived nature of twentieth century text fonts could have something
                  > to do with the fact that most contemporary fonts are drawn designs,
                  > which would be more open to arbitrary idiosyncrasies than a punch cut
                  > based on a common counter. The latter method limits one's design
                  > options but, God, what a wonderfully practical & satisfyingly tactile
                  > way of focusing a typographic design. It's a way of going about things
                  > that I can't imagine a design school student or teacher wanting to try
                  > - most schools like designing to be free of limitations.
                  >
                  > I'm curious if Smeijers has punch-cut a font and finished it digitally
                  > on a fontlab or fontagrapher program. If he's right in thinking that
                  > the early design of fonts is more of a sculptural rather than graphic
                  > process, and that with practice and learning of right techniques one
                  > could learn to make tactilly with punch and counter punch a font
                  > family as quickly as one could design it visually on paper or via a
                  > font program, it's conceivable that one could then scan smoke proofs of
                  > all the punch-cut letters into a computer and create a digital font for
                  > mass use that is much more solid a type form than a computer-only
                  > design. Like polymer plate letterpress, it seems like great way of
                  > using present technology to preserve - or in this case revive - an art
                  > form & keep it relevant with the current techniques of design. And by
                  > thus remaining relevant, older typographic design has a better chance
                  > of influencing future typographic thought.
                  >
                  > Oh, and to Paul: I'm reading Harry Carter's "A view of early typography
                  > (up to about 1600)" originally put out by Oxford UP in 1969. The
                  > version I have is a 2002 reprint by Hyphen Press (yeah, them again).
                  > It's a compact trade paperback clocking in at about 150 pages (126 of
                  > it text) based on a series of lectures Carter gave at Oxford in 1968.
                  > His prose is great - no stodgy dry lecture here. Carter was a guy
                  > whose love of typography is infectious; you get drawn in as he traces
                  > the origins of the early printing industry and the spread of roman and
                  > blackletter across Northern Europe. So far a ripping yarn.
                  >
                  > And what bully would dare kick sand your way if you're walking around
                  > swinging a big-ass book like "Printing on the Iron Hand Press"? A book
                  > like that could do some real damage.
                  >
                  > Rufo
                  >
                • David Goodrich
                  Gerald wrote: On the other hand, I have seen it argued, though rarely, that the cutting of letters was more a violation of letterform than the drawing. One
                  Message 8 of 14 , Jul 6, 2004
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                    Gerald wrote:
                    On the other hand, I have seen it argued, though rarely, that the cutting of
                    letters was more a violation of letterform than the drawing. One would have
                    to discern how significant the differences are between drawn or sculpturally
                    created letterforms of antiquity to secure a position in what is obviously a
                    fairly untraveled argument.

                    There is a wild difference between drawn and sculptured letterforms in
                    antiquity. Drawn forms, such as the political campaign slogans painted on
                    walls of Pompeii, are in a style now called "rustic", painted by a brush
                    held in a manner that produces heavy serifs, or terminations, and thin
                    lines. They are also very narrow letters. There is a museum of inscriptions
                    in the Baths of Diocletian where sculptured letterforms can be studied. The
                    letters are not only different shapes but different proportions. I found
                    one inscription that was basically Garamond. (E.g. T with serifs pointed in
                    different ways.) Our Roman type derives, indirectly, from the sculptural
                    forms. Of course the stonecutters had to draw the outlines of letters
                    before starting to chisel, but I am unaware of any use of the drawn letters
                    by themselves. But there may well have been painted imitations of chiseled
                    letters on signs and the like that have not survived. Mosaic letterforms
                    are different yet. Some have triangular serifs and dipped crossbars in the
                    A and H and thus are probably the model for nineteenth century Latin types.
                    David
                  • David Goodrich
                    I should add to my previous posting that the Romans occasionally inserted bronze letters into their carved monumental inscriptions. These were presumably cast
                    Message 9 of 14 , Jul 8, 2004
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                      I should add to my previous posting that the Romans occasionally inserted
                      bronze letters into their carved monumental inscriptions. These were
                      presumably cast although they may have been trimmed to fit the hollows in
                      the stone. This raises fascinating questions, such as whether the bronze
                      casters dictated the design of the letters using standardized moulds or
                      exactly how the letters and incisions were made to match. Whereas most
                      inscriptional lettering has a V shape, the stonecutting where bronze letters
                      were to be attached has a flat bottom. Thus the stone cut letters were
                      altered to accommodate the bronze inserts. Intriguing that the Romans had
                      learned to cast metal letters but never thought of printing from them.
                      David.
                    • Gerald Lange
                      David Yes, script and sculptural forms were wildly different and there is certainly, as you point out, abundant artifacual evidence of this. I suspect,
                      Message 10 of 14 , Jul 8, 2004
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                        David

                        Yes, script and sculptural forms were "wildly different" and there is certainly, as you point out, abundant artifacual evidence of this. I suspect, though, regarding your last comment, that the thought of printing from the cast letters, or of applying casting technique to printing, might have taken a giant leap for the Romans. I suspect the reason has less to do with potential than it does with established practices. I offer here some thoughts on why this may be the case. Though, of course, this is only speculation.


                        Throughout the history of western letterforms, from the time of the Egyptians up into the middle ages, there seems always the potential for casting letterforms and printing with or from them. The Phaistos Stone, as an isolated and aside example, was a casting of symbols or possible letterforms that were seemingly repeatedly punched into the mold with a carved device. But nothing further than this artifact has been found. (Replications of carved forms have even been found in cave paintings and early textile work.)

                        The problem of "transfer" may not have been one of technical restrictions (or even the ephemeral nature of materials) as much as cultural restrictions. Casting technology was fairly restricted to medallions, coins, etc and written technologies were restricted to pliable and "mobile" substratum. I've really not found much historical consideration at all about why the connection was not made.

                        But it would seem that Tradition (and the restrictions held in this regard) kept sculptural and script like letterforms quite separate. Artifactual evidence reveals that the Egyptians had three sets of the written language, each had its own usage in the social/cultural hierarchy and each with its own separate technique/process for delivery. This hierarchical separation can be seen to be carried along into other cultures that evolved from this, including the Greek and Roman cultures, as well as into medieval Europe. Script like faces were always at the lowest stratum, but somehow managed to persevere through the ages,
                        probably because of this.

                        It would seem that important early European political/religious documents were to be written in a certain hand on papyrus rather than parchment, later on, parchment rather than paper. This had little to do with the quality of the technique/process/substratum. But rather, tradition. The early split editions of printing, using both parchment and paper, are part of this. Even though it was much more difficult to print on parchment and it is not well suited to the process, the practice continued. The parchment edition, though often not as well printed, was considered the traditional method of choice for the higher end market. Perhaps also because the illuminated manuscripts, which held the high end book market for near a century following the development of printing, were themselves commonly produced on parchment.

                        With the development of paper in Asia, there was early on some successful castings of letterforms that were printed. But the problem there, not faced by the Romans, was that the character set required was far too large to allow the process to take hold and have universal application.


                        In regard to your previous statement on the roman alphabet, it may very well be that the evolvement backward of the textura into the roman letterforms as seen in the transitional work of the early printers during the period of incunabula, had very little to do with the sculptural forms surrounding them (the letterforms on the columns seem to have had little influence or effect on the local populace for well over the previous millennium!!!), but rather that the marriage of the Carolingian minuscule and Roman majuscule is more a case of working with, and emulating, Renaissance manuscript materials (which themselves reveal a consideration of the Roman majuscule form).

                        Gerald

                        >Intriguing that the Romans had
                        >learned to cast metal letters but never thought of printing from them.
                        >
                        >David.
                        >
                        >
                        >
                      • Rufo Noriega
                        Yes, I really liked Counter Punch ; it rearranged my thinking regarding the way type could be designed. I never saw how the sometimes contrived nature of
                        Message 11 of 14 , Jan 1, 2005
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                          Yes, I really liked "Counter Punch"; it rearranged my thinking
                          regarding the way type could be designed. I never saw how the sometimes
                          contrived nature of twentieth century text fonts could have something
                          to do with the fact that most contemporary fonts are drawn designs,
                          which would be more open to arbitrary idiosyncrasies than a punch cut
                          based on a common counter. The latter method limits one's design
                          options but, God, what a wonderfully practical & satisfyingly tactile
                          way of focusing a typographic design. It's a way of going about things
                          that I can't imagine a design school student or teacher wanting to try
                          - most schools like designing to be free of limitations.

                          I'm curious if Smeijers has punch-cut a font and finished it digitally
                          on a fontlab or fontagrapher program. If he's right in thinking that
                          the early design of fonts is more of a sculptural rather than graphic
                          process, and that with practice and learning of right techniques one
                          could learn to make tactilly with punch and counter punch a font
                          family as quickly as one could design it visually on paper or via a
                          font program, it's conceivable that one could then scan smoke proofs of
                          all the punch-cut letters into a computer and create a digital font for
                          mass use that is much more solid a type form than a computer-only
                          design. Like polymer plate letterpress, it seems like great way of
                          using present technology to preserve - or in this case revive - an art
                          form & keep it relevant with the current techniques of design. And by
                          thus remaining relevant, older typographic design has a better chance
                          of influencing future typographic thought.

                          Oh, and to Paul: I'm reading Harry Carter's "A view of early typography
                          (up to about 1600)" originally put out by Oxford UP in 1969. The
                          version I have is a 2002 reprint by Hyphen Press (yeah, them again).
                          It's a compact trade paperback clocking in at about 150 pages (126 of
                          it text) based on a series of lectures Carter gave at Oxford in 1968.
                          His prose is great - no stodgy dry lecture here. Carter was a guy
                          whose love of typography is infectious; you get drawn in as he traces
                          the origins of the early printing industry and the spread of roman and
                          blackletter across Northern Europe. So far a ripping yarn.

                          And what bully would dare kick sand your way if you're walking around
                          swinging a big-ass book like "Printing on the Iron Hand Press"? A book
                          like that could do some real damage.

                          Rufo


                          On Thursday, July 1, 2004, at 09:10 AM, <jranneba@...> wrote:

                          > Hello,
                          >
                          > I am reading "Counter Punch: Making Type in the Sixteenth
                          > Century, Designing Typefaces Now" by Fred Smeijers.� So far,
                          > pretty interesting!
                          >
                          > Joe
                          >
                          > ---- Original message ----
                          > >Date: Thu, 01 Jul 2004 11:49:26 -0400
                          > >From: "Paul W. Romaine" <romaine@...>�
                          > >Subject: [PPLetterpress] Summer reading....�
                          > >To: PPLetterpress <PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com>
                          > >
                          > >�� Hello folks,
                          > >
                          > >�� Now that the July Fourth holiday is almost upon us
                          > >�� in the US, I have a
                          > >�� rather interesting request from someone writing an
                          > >�� article on summer
                          > >�� reading of recent books related to the history of
                          > >�� printing, type, books,
                          > >�� and all the arts of the book. Her "summer reading
                          > >�� list" has some "heavies"
                          > >�� as well as some light (weight) reading.
                          > >
                          > >�� What are you reading, planning to read or have
                          > >�� already read this summer?
                          > >�� And why? (And no jokes about bullies kicking sand in
                          > >�� your face for bringing
                          > >�� Richard-Gabriel Rummonds's _Printing on the Iron
                          > >�� Handpress_ [1988] or the
                          > >�� forthcoming _Nineteenth-Century Printing Practices
                          > >�� And The Iron Handpress_ !)
                          > >
                          > >�� Me? I'm reading the current issue of _Parenthesis_
                          > >�� journal of the Fine
                          > >�� Press Book Association, and some biographies of
                          > >�� Benjamin Franklin (for the
                          > >�� tercentenary). I also have a stack of old reading to
                          > >�� get to--mostly old
                          > >�� manuals.� If possible, I'll pass along comments from
                          > >�� our author.
                          > >
                          > >�� All best,
                          > >
                          > >�� Paul
                          > >
                          > >�� Paul W. Romaine
                          > >�� romaine@...
                          > >�� http://home.pipeline.com/~romaine
                          > >
                          > >����������������� Yahoo! Groups Sponsor����������������
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                          > >
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                          > >
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                          > >���� * To visit your group on the web, go to:
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                          > Joe Rannebarger
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