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Re: [PPLetterpress] RE: Type size variations in text.

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  • Gerald Lange
    David, and others Because it was done line by line my suspicions were that it was some kind of technique that might be unique to linecasting, but someone
    Message 1 of 8 , Feb 15, 2006
      David, and others

      Because it was done line by line my suspicions were that it was some
      kind of technique that might be unique to linecasting, but someone
      pointed out that switching out the matrices would not be a very
      efficient. It was not done for effect as the transitions are rather
      subtle. Having said that and examining the composition, which was not
      much to write home about, I still don't quite get it as the seeming
      attempt at justifying lines didn't eliminate widows or rivers or any of
      the other traits of bad composition. It is only a 24 page booklet so it
      is hard to imagine that it was done to eliminate errors as well, since
      there would be no reason to then alter the size of the line as opposed
      to resetting the paragraph.

      Bit of a mystery to me, and the answer lies some 84 years back.

      By replicating, do you mean can I show it to you? Well, not without
      breaking client confidentiality. Or do you mean can I replicate the
      setting. I could digitally, bit embarrassing to do so but if that is
      what the client wants, that is what I will do. Did I also mention that
      the original presswork wasn't all that great? But I don't know that it
      is doable anyway as there are at least eight halftone photographs. While
      I can eliminate moire problems, I doubt I can find a letterpress book
      printer willing and capable of printing 1,000 of these. I can't do it
      and the printers I have contacted have all sympathetically bowed out. It
      also has a leather binding with stamping techniques no longer practiced.
      Likely, a reproduction of sorts, rather than a replication is all that
      is possible, at least in terms of cost.

      Gerald



      David Goodrich wrote:

      >Gerald,
      >This is fascinating. How do you suppose it was done? Is it a matter of
      >using different sizes of the same type family (some body types are available
      >in one point increments) or do you think it was done photographically?
      >
      >I would offer the suggestion that it may be a matter of making corrections
      >when the printers were too lazy (or cost conscious) to reset the rest of the
      >paragraph as would be necessary if they had left out a word or needed to
      >take out something. This would be particularly true of linotype.
      >
      >In any event I suspect it was meant to go unnoticed.
      >
      >Will you replicate this?
      >
      >David.
      >
      >Message: 11
      > Date: Tue, 14 Feb 2006 00:20:51 -0000
      > From: "Gerald Lange" <bieler@...>
      >Subject: Type size variation in text
      >
      >I recently received a request for the replication of an early 1920s
      >booklet and I am a bit perplexed by the typesetting. A number of
      >random lines are set in a slightly larger or smaller size of the
      >typeface. This appears to have been done so not for effect but more as
      >a way to justify the line. I've never seen this type of treatment
      >before. I'm curious if this is an uncommon trick related to line
      >casting as I can't imagine this would be as easily facilitated in hand
      >setting.
      >
      >Gerald
      >
      >
      >
      >
    • dadexter1
      Ray, Tina, Gerald, and Group I have a copy of the 1988 David Godine photo facsimile of the 1936 edition of Gill s book. Here are a couple of interesting
      Message 2 of 8 , Feb 16, 2006
        Ray, Tina, Gerald, and Group

        I have a copy of the 1988 David Godine photo facsimile of the 1936 edition of Gill's book.
        Here are a couple of interesting extracts:


        From the introduction to the Godine reprint by Christopher Skelton

        "The frequent use of ampersands and the occasional contractions such as `tho'' and `sh'ld'
        may jar, though not as much as one practice abandoned in the 1936 printing shown here.
        In the first edition the final few letters of some words were set in a smaller size in order to
        fit them into the line, a very time-consuming practice when hand-setting. Although
        technically feasible using Monotype hot-metal machine composition and now [1988!]
        easily achieved with film-setting, it remains a distracting way to achieve equal word
        spacing. The use of paragraph marks instead of indented lines, although idiosyncratic
        today, has distinguished precedents and adds to the evenness and consistency of the
        pages."


        From Gill's introduction to the 1936 re-write

        "Six years is a considerable time in human life, and if it be true that the witty remarks one
        makes at a dinner party seem peculiarly foolish the next morning, how much more does
        the enthusiasm of 1930 appear foolish in 1936."


        At the risk of quoting Gill out of context, this might be a recantation of his superscript
        experiment (which I don't think helped his purpose), among other things; someone very
        familiar with Gill's work would have to make the judgement on that. But since he preferred
        equal word spacing and the ragged right, I think it's a fair guess that he may have evolved
        between editions. Evolved in some practices, if not in philosophy, for he writes in the 1936
        edition:

        " . . . But whereas the medieval scribe obtained his neat square page by the use of a large
        number of contractions (by this means words were made on the average very much
        shorter; and obviously short words are more easily fitted in than long ones) & and by the
        frank use of line-fillings—i.e., he boldly filled up a short line with an ornamental flourish
        or illuminated device—the modern printer obtains his square page only be the sacrifice of
        one of the most important constituents of readableness, even spacing between words. . . .
        "

        So he still championed even word space over even line length, and he still was looking
        back to traditions of earlier centuries.


        Was it also an homage? Looking at the sample scan from the 1931 edition, the letter
        groups chosen are similar to the ones seen in Elizabethan handwritten documents and
        personal letters ("tion," and the ends of commonly used "wh" words, for instance), where
        the letter group (sometimes itself abbreviated) appears as a superscript. I think I recall
        occasions where the entire contracted word was raised above the line, thus resembling a
        proofreader's insertion (without the accompanying caret). Since these usages occurred in
        handwritten, informal documents, was the rationale aesthetic, fashion, or perhaps itself a
        Renaissance homage to medieval book work?



        Returning a little closer to topic, it seems that the reasons for Gill's usage are different
        from those in Gerald's booklet. Certainly, each instance of unexpected type-size variation
        will have its own, possibly interesting story. In hand-set letterpress, one can assume
        aesthetics or limited resources as the cause, but also worth considering are the amount of
        experience of the printer, the purpose and budget and time frame of the publisher, and
        the physical situation. Even in handcraft, it might be a mistake to assume plan when panic
        might be the true motivator.

        Regards,

        David


        David Dexter
        dadexter@...

        --- In PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com, T Howard <hwrd_tn@...> wrote:
        >
        > I was wondering, when Gerald asked, if it was at all possible that they just ran out of
        sorts? I've seen it in places where it appeared it was done to justify (eg newspapers), but
        also in other printed material where there seemed to be no reason.
        >
        > But in Gill's book, the device adds a lovely quaintness to the page, doesn't it? In
        calligraphy, this device is one means of achieving balance and adding interest to the text.
        Makes one wonder if it was not done intentionally as homage to the old manuscripts.
        >
        > Tina
        >
        >
        > Raymond Nichols <rnichols@...> wrote: I have a 1st edition copy of Eric Gill's "PRINTING
        & PIETY: An essay
        > on life and works in the England of 1931, & particularly TYPOGRAPHY."
        >
        > In it groups of letters at the end of various words are treated as a
        > superscript. I don't believe it happens in any other edition of the
        > book. Stealing from this example I've used the idea of this in a
        > couple of design (offset, not letterpress) pieces I've produced to
        > 'ram' words into a line, but not as random as it appears in Gill's book.
        >
        > You can see a scan of a spread from the book with the link below. The
        > red underlines are my addition to help you see where they occur.
        >
        > . . . http://DEsigners.art.udel.edu/temp/gill-essay-type-size.jpg
        >
        > My copy of the book is uncut so I've not thoroughly read it (for the
        > money I paid for it I'm not about to take a knife to it), but it
        > appears that the majority of these occurrences happen toward the end
        > of the book rather than at the beginning.
        >
        > Ray Nichols
        > Raven Press at the University of Delaware
        >
        >
        >
        > Yahoo! Groups Links
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > ---------------------------------
        > Relax. Yahoo! Mail virus scanning helps detect nasty viruses!
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
      • Raymond Nichols
        With regard to David Dexter s note. Thanks for that effort in adding that information to my experiences and for the Godine reference. The Gill book was my
        Message 3 of 8 , Feb 16, 2006
          With regard to David Dexter's note.

          Thanks for that effort in adding that information to my experiences
          and for the Godine reference. The Gill book was my first fairly
          serious book purchase ($600). When I bought it I was a lot less
          knowledgeable. I didn't even realize it was an uncut book when I
          bought it. I've often wondered about the text.

          Ray
        • T Howard
          David, Thanks so much for the effort to research this, and the analysis. It caused a light to shine for me. I m not knowledgable about typography, so, tho I
          Message 4 of 8 , Feb 17, 2006
            David,

            Thanks so much for the effort to research this, and the analysis. It caused a light to shine for me.

            I'm not knowledgable about typography, so, tho I read with interest the frequent discussions about the design differences between metal and digital type,
            I rarely come away with much I can use at this stage.

            This, however, points up the singular principle that what is an effective device or approach in one form of craft often becomes only theatrical novelty in another (even if applied only through panic or experiment).

            My main interest is learning to print well with handset metal type. Better understanding the differing results gained through the different methods will help me apply the most appropriate principles for the medium I'm using. It will also help me better describe the results.

            Thanks again (and thanks to Gerald for opening the discussion!)

            Tina





            dadexter1 <dadexter@...> wrote: Ray, Tina, Gerald, and Group

            I have a copy of the 1988 David Godine photo facsimile of the 1936 edition of Gill's book.
            Here are a couple of interesting extracts:


            From the introduction to the Godine reprint by Christopher Skelton

            "The frequent use of ampersands and the occasional contractions such as `tho'' and `sh'ld'
            may jar, though not as much as one practice abandoned in the 1936 printing shown here.
            In the first edition the final few letters of some words were set in a smaller size in order to
            fit them into the line, a very time-consuming practice when hand-setting. Although
            technically feasible using Monotype hot-metal machine composition and now [1988!]
            easily achieved with film-setting, it remains a distracting way to achieve equal word
            spacing. The use of paragraph marks instead of indented lines, although idiosyncratic
            today, has distinguished precedents and adds to the evenness and consistency of the
            pages."


            From Gill's introduction to the 1936 re-write

            "Six years is a considerable time in human life, and if it be true that the witty remarks one
            makes at a dinner party seem peculiarly foolish the next morning, how much more does
            the enthusiasm of 1930 appear foolish in 1936."


            At the risk of quoting Gill out of context, this might be a recantation of his superscript
            experiment (which I don't think helped his purpose), among other things; someone very
            familiar with Gill's work would have to make the judgement on that. But since he preferred
            equal word spacing and the ragged right, I think it's a fair guess that he may have evolved
            between editions. Evolved in some practices, if not in philosophy, for he writes in the 1936
            edition:

            " . . . But whereas the medieval scribe obtained his neat square page by the use of a large
            number of contractions (by this means words were made on the average very much
            shorter; and obviously short words are more easily fitted in than long ones) & and by the
            frank use of line-fillings—i.e., he boldly filled up a short line with an ornamental flourish
            or illuminated device—the modern printer obtains his square page only be the sacrifice of
            one of the most important constituents of readableness, even spacing between words. . . .
            "

            So he still championed even word space over even line length, and he still was looking
            back to traditions of earlier centuries.


            Was it also an homage? Looking at the sample scan from the 1931 edition, the letter
            groups chosen are similar to the ones seen in Elizabethan handwritten documents and
            personal letters ("tion," and the ends of commonly used "wh" words, for instance), where
            the letter group (sometimes itself abbreviated) appears as a superscript. I think I recall
            occasions where the entire contracted word was raised above the line, thus resembling a
            proofreader's insertion (without the accompanying caret). Since these usages occurred in
            handwritten, informal documents, was the rationale aesthetic, fashion, or perhaps itself a
            Renaissance homage to medieval book work?



            Returning a little closer to topic, it seems that the reasons for Gill's usage are different
            from those in Gerald's booklet. Certainly, each instance of unexpected type-size variation
            will have its own, possibly interesting story. In hand-set letterpress, one can assume
            aesthetics or limited resources as the cause, but also worth considering are the amount of
            experience of the printer, the purpose and budget and time frame of the publisher, and
            the physical situation. Even in handcraft, it might be a mistake to assume plan when panic
            might be the true motivator.

            Regards,

            David


            David Dexter
            dadexter@...

            --- In PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com, T Howard wrote:
            >
            > I was wondering, when Gerald asked, if it was at all possible that they just ran out of
            sorts? I've seen it in places where it appeared it was done to justify (eg newspapers), but
            also in other printed material where there seemed to be no reason.
            >
            > But in Gill's book, the device adds a lovely quaintness to the page, doesn't it? In
            calligraphy, this device is one means of achieving balance and adding interest to the text.
            Makes one wonder if it was not done intentionally as homage to the old manuscripts.
            >
            > Tina
            >
            >
            > Raymond Nichols wrote: I have a 1st edition copy of Eric Gill's "PRINTING
            & PIETY: An essay
            > on life and works in the England of 1931, & particularly TYPOGRAPHY."
            >
            > In it groups of letters at the end of various words are treated as a
            > superscript. I don't believe it happens in any other edition of the
            > book. Stealing from this example I've used the idea of this in a
            > couple of design (offset, not letterpress) pieces I've produced to
            > 'ram' words into a line, but not as random as it appears in Gill's book.
            >
            > You can see a scan of a spread from the book with the link below. The
            > red underlines are my addition to help you see where they occur.
            >
            > . . . http://DEsigners.art.udel.edu/temp/gill-essay-type-size.jpg
            >
            > My copy of the book is uncut so I've not thoroughly read it (for the
            > money I paid for it I'm not about to take a knife to it), but it
            > appears that the majority of these occurrences happen toward the end
            > of the book rather than at the beginning.
            >
            > Ray Nichols
            > Raven Press at the University of Delaware
            >
            >
            >
            > Yahoo! Groups Links
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            > ---------------------------------
            > Relax. Yahoo! Mail virus scanning helps detect nasty viruses!
            >
            > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            >








            Yahoo! Groups Links









            ---------------------------------
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            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • dadexter1
            You re welcome, Tina. Since I had the book right here on the shelf, the research was not too hard. Usually I just read the posts, but this time I felt I could
            Message 5 of 8 , Feb 17, 2006
              You're welcome, Tina. Since I had the book right here on the shelf, the research was not
              too hard. Usually I just read the posts, but this time I felt I could contribute something.

              Coming from the editor's direction, my knowledge of the craft is very limited, but haven't
              we all seen, in offset books from even venerable publishing houses, not only unexpected
              sizes due to hasty corrections but also broken descenders repaired apparently by a hand
              stroke of a pen or X-acto knife? Letterpress will have different explanations for its
              oddities, but in the realm of "mass presswork" I suspect the rationale will be much the
              same. The small letterpress printer, though, is engaging in a much richer craft (in my
              view), and aesthetics must be considered as a factor in any example of such work. So,
              even if type design discussions aren't helping you now--they eventually will.

              Regards,

              David

              -------------------------------






              --- In PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com, T Howard <hwrd_tn@...> wrote:
              >
              > David,
              >
              > Thanks so much for the effort to research this, and the analysis. It caused a light to
              shine for me.
              >
              > I'm not knowledgable about typography, so, tho I read with interest the frequent
              discussions about the design differences between metal and digital type,
              > I rarely come away with much I can use at this stage.
              >
              > This, however, points up the singular principle that what is an effective device or
              approach in one form of craft often becomes only theatrical novelty in another (even if
              applied only through panic or experiment).
              >
              > My main interest is learning to print well with handset metal type. Better
              understanding the differing results gained through the different methods will help me
              apply the most appropriate principles for the medium I'm using. It will also help me better
              describe the results.
              >
              > Thanks again (and thanks to Gerald for opening the discussion!)
              >
              > Tina
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              > dadexter1 <dadexter@...> wrote: Ray, Tina, Gerald, and Group
              >
              > I have a copy of the 1988 David Godine photo facsimile of the 1936 edition of Gill's
              book.
              > Here are a couple of interesting extracts:
              >
              >
              > From the introduction to the Godine reprint by Christopher Skelton
              >
              > "The frequent use of ampersands and the occasional contractions such as `tho'' and
              `sh'ld'
              > may jar, though not as much as one practice abandoned in the 1936 printing shown
              here.
              > In the first edition the final few letters of some words were set in a smaller size in order
              to
              > fit them into the line, a very time-consuming practice when hand-setting. Although
              > technically feasible using Monotype hot-metal machine composition and now [1988!]
              > easily achieved with film-setting, it remains a distracting way to achieve equal word
              > spacing. The use of paragraph marks instead of indented lines, although idiosyncratic
              > today, has distinguished precedents and adds to the evenness and consistency of the
              > pages."
              >
              >
              > From Gill's introduction to the 1936 re-write
              >
              > "Six years is a considerable time in human life, and if it be true that the witty remarks
              one
              > makes at a dinner party seem peculiarly foolish the next morning, how much more does
              > the enthusiasm of 1930 appear foolish in 1936."
              >
              >
              > At the risk of quoting Gill out of context, this might be a recantation of his superscript
              > experiment (which I don't think helped his purpose), among other things; someone very
              > familiar with Gill's work would have to make the judgement on that. But since he
              preferred
              > equal word spacing and the ragged right, I think it's a fair guess that he may have
              evolved
              > between editions. Evolved in some practices, if not in philosophy, for he writes in the
              1936
              > edition:
              >
              > " . . . But whereas the medieval scribe obtained his neat square page by the use of a
              large
              > number of contractions (by this means words were made on the average very much
              > shorter; and obviously short words are more easily fitted in than long ones) & and by the
              > frank use of line-fillings—i.e., he boldly filled up a short line with an ornamental flourish
              > or illuminated device—the modern printer obtains his square page only be the sacrifice
              of
              > one of the most important constituents of readableness, even spacing between words. .
              . .
              > "
              >
              > So he still championed even word space over even line length, and he still was looking
              > back to traditions of earlier centuries.
              >
              >
              > Was it also an homage? Looking at the sample scan from the 1931 edition, the letter
              > groups chosen are similar to the ones seen in Elizabethan handwritten documents and
              > personal letters ("tion," and the ends of commonly used "wh" words, for instance), where
              > the letter group (sometimes itself abbreviated) appears as a superscript. I think I recall
              > occasions where the entire contracted word was raised above the line, thus resembling a
              > proofreader's insertion (without the accompanying caret). Since these usages occurred
              in
              > handwritten, informal documents, was the rationale aesthetic, fashion, or perhaps itself
              a
              > Renaissance homage to medieval book work?
              >
              >
              >
              > Returning a little closer to topic, it seems that the reasons for Gill's usage are different
              > from those in Gerald's booklet. Certainly, each instance of unexpected type-size
              variation
              > will have its own, possibly interesting story. In hand-set letterpress, one can assume
              > aesthetics or limited resources as the cause, but also worth considering are the amount
              of
              > experience of the printer, the purpose and budget and time frame of the publisher, and
              > the physical situation. Even in handcraft, it might be a mistake to assume plan when
              panic
              > might be the true motivator.
              >
              > Regards,
              >
              > David
              >
              >
              > David Dexter
              > dadexter@...
              >
              > --- In PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com, T Howard wrote:
              > >
              > > I was wondering, when Gerald asked, if it was at all possible that they just ran out of
              > sorts? I've seen it in places where it appeared it was done to justify (eg newspapers),
              but
              > also in other printed material where there seemed to be no reason.
              > >
              > > But in Gill's book, the device adds a lovely quaintness to the page, doesn't it? In
              > calligraphy, this device is one means of achieving balance and adding interest to the
              text.
              > Makes one wonder if it was not done intentionally as homage to the old manuscripts.
              > >
              > > Tina
              > >
              > >
              > > Raymond Nichols wrote: I have a 1st edition copy of Eric Gill's "PRINTING
              > & PIETY: An essay
              > > on life and works in the England of 1931, & particularly TYPOGRAPHY."
              > >
              > > In it groups of letters at the end of various words are treated as a
              > > superscript. I don't believe it happens in any other edition of the
              > > book. Stealing from this example I've used the idea of this in a
              > > couple of design (offset, not letterpress) pieces I've produced to
              > > 'ram' words into a line, but not as random as it appears in Gill's book.
              > >
              > > You can see a scan of a spread from the book with the link below. The
              > > red underlines are my addition to help you see where they occur.
              > >
              > > . . . http://DEsigners.art.udel.edu/temp/gill-essay-type-size.jpg
              > >
              > > My copy of the book is uncut so I've not thoroughly read it (for the
              > > money I paid for it I'm not about to take a knife to it), but it
              > > appears that the majority of these occurrences happen toward the end
              > > of the book rather than at the beginning.
              > >
              > > Ray Nichols
              > > Raven Press at the University of Delaware
              > >
              > >
              > >
              > > Yahoo! Groups Links
              > >
              > >
              > >
              > >
              > >
              > >
              > >
              > >
              > >
              > >
              > > ---------------------------------
              > > Relax. Yahoo! Mail virus scanning helps detect nasty viruses!
              > >
              > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              > >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              > Yahoo! Groups Links
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              > ---------------------------------
              > Yahoo! Autos. Looking for a sweet ride? Get pricing, reviews, & more on new and used
              cars.
              >
              > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              >
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