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Calligraphy and deep impression

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  • Gerald Lange
    We often see script typefaces mixed with roman typefaces and rarely think anything of it. I have a couple of high end invitational card clients who do this
    Message 1 of 9 , Sep 2, 2007
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      We often see script typefaces mixed with roman typefaces and rarely
      think anything of it. I have a couple of high end invitational card
      clients who do this routinely. The other day I was processing some
      plates and I suddenly remembered what the respected calligrapher Ismar
      David had once said about this.

      Back in 1984, I had given a workshop at a calligraphy conference, had
      printed a special broadside for the event, and the covers for the
      convention catalog. At dinner one of those nights, I was seated next
      to David and his adoring minions and one of them passed over the
      broadside to Ismar and sweetly said, look what Gerald printed for us.
      David, who simply could never restrain himself, yelled out
      "disgusting." The minions dropped their heads.

      I knew what he meant though, it wasn't my calligraphy but I was the
      ignoramus who was so disrespectful of tradition that I would take a
      pen-based letterform and impress it into the paper.

      Well, the times have changed, but I wonder if today's designers ever
      even think about this "travesty" of technologies.

      Gerald
      http://BielerPress.blogspot.com
    • Peter Fraterdeus
      Hi Gerald ... I have a gorgeous piece printed in 1567 which does exactly that. (I ll post it somewhere, when I have a chance) Of course it s a headline, and it
      Message 2 of 9 , Sep 3, 2007
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        Hi Gerald

        At 8:52 AM -0500 3 09 07, you wrote:
        >
        >I knew what he meant though, it wasn't my calligraphy but I was the
        >ignoramus who was so disrespectful of tradition that I would take a
        >pen-based letterform and impress it into the paper.

        I have a gorgeous piece printed in 1567 which does exactly that.
        (I'll post it somewhere, when I have a chance)
        Of course it's a headline, and it was carved in wood, not photo-engraved.

        However, the earliest western books were exactly that, all calligraphy, carved in wood, and printed on paper.

        Sheesh, and people wonder why humans are always at war.
        Seems like there are far more disgusting things to worry about.

        I hope Mr David didn't damage your self-respect, as you are firmly in an ancient tradition here.
        Clearly, there are parameters outside of which one might choose to step lightly, historically speaking, but come on. The first person to write a story on scraps of animal hide was probably met with the same reaction or worse, from the bards who claimed that writing itself was disgusting. (see Socrates on Hermes : http://www.fraterdeus.com/qmlqblog/archive/2005/10/06/musings)

        Happy Labor Day, all!

        Peter

        AzByCx DwEvFu GtHsIr JqKpLo MnNmOl PkQjRi ShTgUf VeWdXc YbZa&@
        {ARTQ: Help stop in-box bloat! Always Remember to Trim the Quote!}

        ExquisiteLetterpress http://www.exquisiteletterpress.com
        --
      • Gerald Lange
        Hi Peter Well, Socrates was right though was he not? I recall the story of a Greek actor who was able to identify the bodies of theater goers after an
        Message 3 of 9 , Sep 3, 2007
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          Hi Peter

          Well, Socrates was right though was he not? I recall the story of a
          Greek actor who was able to identify the bodies of theater goers after
          an earthquake crushed the audience, simply because he had memorized
          their sitting arrangements during the play. There is a term for the
          type of memorization practiced in the middle ages prior to printing,
          of course, I can't recall what it is!!!

          Tiniest of correction here and for your interest. The wood block
          printed book is actually thought not to have preceded the printed book
          (movable type). None have been dated as such. There are examples of
          printing from wood that do precede metal type by well over half a
          century but the idea of printing in traditional book form apparently
          never took hold. The sequence is, supposedly, that once the printed
          book created a hierarchy in production method, the wood block books
          appeared and quickly established themselves at the lower level of
          access and pricing. Rather than be done away with by printing as is
          commonly thought, the written manuscript (especially in illuminated
          form) rose to the top of the hierarchy and held that position for near
          a century.

          David seems never to have had a problem with his work being reproduced
          via the offset process, as he was well published. As an aside, Ieuan
          Rees spent the entire week of the conference out in the courtyard
          cutting letterforms into stone.

          Gerald
          http://BielerPress.blogspot.com



          --- In PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com, Peter Fraterdeus <peterf@...> wrote:
          >
          > Hi Gerald
          >
          > At 8:52 AM -0500 3 09 07, you wrote:
          > >
          > >I knew what he meant though, it wasn't my calligraphy but I was the
          > >ignoramus who was so disrespectful of tradition that I would take a
          > >pen-based letterform and impress it into the paper.
          >
          > I have a gorgeous piece printed in 1567 which does exactly that.
          > (I'll post it somewhere, when I have a chance)
          > Of course it's a headline, and it was carved in wood, not
          photo-engraved.
          >
          > However, the earliest western books were exactly that, all
          calligraphy, carved in wood, and printed on paper.
          >
          > Sheesh, and people wonder why humans are always at war.
          > Seems like there are far more disgusting things to worry about.
          >
          > I hope Mr David didn't damage your self-respect, as you are firmly
          in an ancient tradition here.
          > Clearly, there are parameters outside of which one might choose to
          step lightly, historically speaking, but come on. The first person to
          write a story on scraps of animal hide was probably met with the same
          reaction or worse, from the bards who claimed that writing itself was
          disgusting. (see Socrates on Hermes :
          http://www.fraterdeus.com/qmlqblog/archive/2005/10/06/musings)
          >
          > Happy Labor Day, all!
          >
          > Peter
          >
          >
        • Mike Anderson
          David must have thought that the Gutenberg Bible was also disgusting, since it to was a copy of the pen-based hand of the time - Gutenberg and staff used a
          Message 4 of 9 , Sep 3, 2007
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            David must have thought that the Gutenberg Bible was also "disgusting," since it to was a copy of the "pen-based hand" of the time - Gutenberg and staff used a manuscript, penned by a scribe (or monk), as their exemplar. Sometimes I feel the "great," or those who believe themselves to be the "great" forget their roots.



            Mike



            ----- Original Message -----
            From: Gerald Lange
            To: PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com
            Sent: Monday, September 03, 2007 2:59 AM
            Subject: [PPLetterpress] Calligraphy and deep impression


            We often see script typefaces mixed with roman typefaces and rarely
            think anything of it. I have a couple of high end invitational card
            clients who do this routinely. The other day I was processing some
            plates and I suddenly remembered what the respected calligrapher Ismar
            David had once said about this.

            Back in 1984, I had given a workshop at a calligraphy conference, had
            printed a special broadside for the event, and the covers for the
            convention catalog. At dinner one of those nights, I was seated next
            to David and his adoring minions and one of them passed over the
            broadside to Ismar and sweetly said, look what Gerald printed for us.
            David, who simply could never restrain himself, yelled out
            "disgusting." The minions dropped their heads.

            I knew what he meant though, it wasn't my calligraphy but I was the
            ignoramus who was so disrespectful of tradition that I would take a
            pen-based letterform and impress it into the paper.

            Well, the times have changed, but I wonder if today's designers ever
            even think about this "travesty" of technologies.

            Gerald
            http://BielerPress.blogspot.com





            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Gerald Lange
            Mike Well, they certainly had to use something for their copy, now didn t they!? (where is that interrobang when you need it?) Interestingly, Peter Schoeffer
            Message 5 of 9 , Sep 3, 2007
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              Mike

              Well, they certainly had to use something for their "copy," now didn't
              they!? (where is that interrobang when you need it?)

              Interestingly, Peter Schoeffer was working at the Sorbonne as a
              manuscript copyist just prior to his work on the Bible. Thus he was a
              crucial addition to the team; especially so since the edition had to
              look as if it was written by hand (or so it has been suggested). I doubt
              mentioning that to Ismar would have furthered the cause though, since
              "impression" was the insurmountable problem facing the early printers.

              Gerald
              http://BielerPress.blogspot.com


              Mike Anderson wrote:
              > David must have thought that the Gutenberg Bible was also "disgusting," since it to was a copy of the "pen-based hand" of the time - Gutenberg and staff used a manuscript, penned by a scribe (or monk), as their exemplar. Sometimes I feel the "great," or those who believe themselves to be the "great" forget their roots.
              >
              >
              >
              > Mike
              >
              >
              >
              > ----- Original Message -----
              > From: Gerald Lange
              > To: PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com
              > Sent: Monday, September 03, 2007 2:59 AM
              > Subject: [PPLetterpress] Calligraphy and deep impression
              >
              >
              > We often see script typefaces mixed with roman typefaces and rarely
              > think anything of it. I have a couple of high end invitational card
              > clients who do this routinely. The other day I was processing some
              > plates and I suddenly remembered what the respected calligrapher Ismar
              > David had once said about this.
              >
              > Back in 1984, I had given a workshop at a calligraphy conference, had
              > printed a special broadside for the event, and the covers for the
              > convention catalog. At dinner one of those nights, I was seated next
              > to David and his adoring minions and one of them passed over the
              > broadside to Ismar and sweetly said, look what Gerald printed for us.
              > David, who simply could never restrain himself, yelled out
              > "disgusting." The minions dropped their heads.
              >
              > I knew what he meant though, it wasn't my calligraphy but I was the
              > ignoramus who was so disrespectful of tradition that I would take a
              > pen-based letterform and impress it into the paper.
              >
              > Well, the times have changed, but I wonder if today's designers ever
              > even think about this "travesty" of technologies.
              >
              > Gerald
              > http://BielerPress.blogspot.com
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
            • Peter Fraterdeus
              ... He was right, absolutely! I m trying to remember about what :-) ... Yes, the house of memory technique. I can t remember the term either, but I m sure I
              Message 6 of 9 , Sep 3, 2007
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                At 6:50 PM +0000 3 09 07, Gerald Lange wrote:
                >Hi Peter
                >
                >Well, Socrates was right though was he not?

                He was right, absolutely!
                I'm trying to remember about what :-)

                > I recall the story of a
                >Greek actor who was able to identify the bodies of theater goers after
                >an earthquake crushed the audience, simply because he had memorized
                >their sitting arrangements during the play. There is a term for the
                >type of memorization practiced in the middle ages prior to printing,
                >of course, I can't recall what it is!!!

                Yes, the house of memory technique. I can't remember the term either, but I'm sure I left it here under the potted palm in the entryway! Iamblicus writes about the Pythagorians using this. Similar was the practice of the poets and bards prior to writing (as Socrates implies) But that's not the middle ages... hmm.

                >Tiniest of correction here and for your interest. The wood block
                >printed book is actually thought not to have preceded the printed book
                >(movable type). None have been dated as such.

                Ah, now that you bring it up, I recall some discussion about this question.
                Nonetheless, I'd have to wonder, since the oriental book had been made this way for centuries, why it would not have found use in the West, what with the Silk Road and Marco Polo, et al.

                > There are examples of
                >printing from wood that do precede metal type by well over half a
                >century but the idea of printing in traditional book form apparently
                >never took hold. The sequence is, supposedly, that once the printed
                >book created a hierarchy in production method, the wood block books
                >appeared and quickly established themselves at the lower level of
                >access and pricing. Rather than be done away with by printing as is
                >commonly thought, the written manuscript (especially in illuminated
                >form) rose to the top of the hierarchy and held that position for near
                >a century.

                Indeed, and to some degree still holds it.
                Interesting that Letterpress, having been given up for dead by commercial interests, now hold a very strong second in line after unique calligraphic mss for top of the contemporary book heap.


                >David seems never to have had a problem with his work being reproduced
                >via the offset process, as he was well published.

                Exactly. I just don't get what the bug is in some bonnets.
                Sheesh.

                >As an aside, Ieuan
                >Rees spent the entire week of the conference out in the courtyard
                >cutting letterforms into stone.

                Ieuan is like that ;-)
                I suggested to the ATypI that they have him to the Brighton conferernce coming up this month.
                He will in fact be speaking, and I hope, carving given an opportunity.

                Unfortunately, I'm not going to be there this year....

                P.



                --
                AzByCx DwEvFu GtHsIr JqKpLo MnNmOl PkQjRi ShTgUf VeWdXc YbZa&@
                {ARTQ: Help stop in-box bloat! Always Remember to Trim the Quote!}

                ExquisiteLetterpress http://www.exquisiteletterpress.com

                -:-*-:-*-:-*-:-*-:-*-:-*-:-*-:-*-:-*-:-*-:-*-:-*-:-*-:-*-:-*-:-*-:-*-:-*-:-*-:-*-:-*-:-*-:-*
                Peter Fraterdeus http://www.alphabets.com : Sign up for "MiceType"!
                Galena, Illinois Design Philosophy Fonts Lettering Letterpress Wood Type
                Dubuque, Iowa http://www.fraterdeus.com
                Photography Irish Fiddle Political Observation
                http://flickr.com/photos/pfraterdeus
                http://youtube.com/user/pfraterdeus
              • Gerald Lange
                Hi Peter I m not sure to what extent books and currency may have made their way via the Silk Road, but the books would not have been in codex form. Certainly
                Message 7 of 9 , Sep 3, 2007
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                  Hi Peter

                  I'm not sure to what extent books and currency may have made their way
                  via the Silk Road, but the books would not have been in codex form.
                  Certainly Europeans had seen some of these materials prior to the
                  development of Western printing but the main problem was that the worlds
                  of writing and those of metallurgy, casting of medallions, coins, etc.,
                  did not cross, probably because of social strata. Medallions and coins
                  had been cast using punches since classical times, perhaps before (e.g.
                  the Phaistos stone). Even the medallions that protected Marco Polo and
                  other westerns in their journeys, the paiza, issued by the Khan, appear
                  to have been cast from punches. It is uncertain if any of the Asian
                  paper materials that had been printed from cast type made their way to
                  Europe.

                  Gutenberg's political/social affiliation with the Mint seems to be the
                  only plausible connection as to where the two streams would have melded.
                  The plea from the Church for a form of mechanical writing to prevent
                  corruption in the copying of text was in place and likely the impetus.
                  All that was required was for someone to connect the dots.

                  Gerald
                  http://BielerPress.blogspot.com

                  > Ah, now that you bring it up, I recall some discussion about this question.
                  > Nonetheless, I'd have to wonder, since the oriental book had been made this way for centuries, why it would not have found use in the West, what with the Silk Road and Marco Polo, et al.
                  >
                  >
                • Peter Fraterdeus
                  Hi Gerald ... Yes, it s really fascinating to see the wax punches used by the Romans*, and consider how matters might have turned out if some enterprising
                  Message 8 of 9 , Sep 3, 2007
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                    Hi Gerald

                    At 4:17 PM -0700 3 09 07, Gerald Lange wrote:
                    >...Even the medallions that protected Marco Polo and
                    >other westerns in their journeys, the paiza, issued by the Khan, appear
                    >to have been cast from punches. It is uncertain if any of the Asian
                    >paper materials that had been printed from cast type made their way to
                    >Europe.


                    Yes, it's really fascinating to see the wax "punches" used by the Romans*, and consider how matters might have turned out if some enterprising Roman had thought to use multiples of these things to produce movable type -- rudimentary as it may have been -- 1500 years before Gutenberg

                    *I recall the example in Fred Goudy's "The Alphabet and Elements of Lettering"

                    However, the 'books' I was thinking of were the woodcut books, full pages from each block, regarding Mr. David's attitude about impressions from calligraphic originals, regardless of the form, scroll or codex.
                    As far as the codex, I'm not sure that it was exclusive to the West *, in any case, as there are plenty of examples of Oriental scrolls bound as 'accordion' books, or in fact, of accordions punched through and sewn. (Of which, I'm sure sure you are aware!)
                    However, I don't recall the time line of when these are known. Perhaps it's after contact with the West...

                    *unless the technical definition precludes accordion books in favor of collections of signatures...

                    Not my area of expertise, but I'm interested ;-)

                    Ciao!

                    P


                    >

                    --
                    AzByCx DwEvFu GtHsIr JqKpLo MnNmOl PkQjRi ShTgUf VeWdXc YbZa&@
                    {ARTQ: Help stop in-box bloat! Always Remember to Trim the Quote!}

                    ExquisiteLetterpress http://www.exquisiteletterpress.com

                    -:-*-:-*-:-*-:-*-:-*-:-*-:-*-:-*-:-*-:-*-:-*-:-*-:-*-:-*-:-*-:-*-:-*-:-*-:-*-:-*-:-*-:-*-:-*
                    Peter Fraterdeus http://www.alphabets.com : Sign up for "MiceType"!
                    Galena, Illinois Design Philosophy Fonts Lettering Letterpress Wood Type
                    Dubuque, Iowa http://www.fraterdeus.com
                    Photography Irish Fiddle Political Observation
                    http://flickr.com/photos/pfraterdeus
                    http://youtube.com/user/pfraterdeus
                  • Gerald Lange
                    Hi I m not certain about the timeline in the evolution of the book form in various parts of the world, but I suppose I could walk over to my library; but it is
                    Message 9 of 9 , Sep 3, 2007
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                      Hi

                      I'm not certain about the timeline in the evolution of the book form
                      in various parts of the world, but I suppose I could walk over to my
                      library; but it is too hot to make the effort.

                      It's quite possible that some enterprising young Roman did come up
                      with a way to use multiple punches for such a purpose. The way it
                      worked out successfully though, is all that matters. 14th century
                      Europe, not the Roman Empire, not Asia, was prime for the development.

                      Printing preses were in existence—all that was required was to work
                      out the complexities of the hose. Punchcutting and casting technology
                      had been perfected. Paper had been used for writing, and for printing,
                      for some time. The casting properties of lead were clearly understood.
                      The use of ink for painting on metal was known. A well developed
                      knowledge of metallurgy and mechanics, an effective mercantile
                      structure, unrestricted trade channels, standardization of mechanical
                      parts and tools that could be used without specific application,
                      etc.—all in place.

                      All was there, it seems, except for the adjustable casting mould, the
                      tool that would allow letters to be spaced as if they were hand written.

                      Gerald
                      http://BielerPress.blogspot.com

                      --- In PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com, Peter Fraterdeus <peterf@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > Hi Gerald
                      >
                      > At 4:17 PM -0700 3 09 07, Gerald Lange wrote:
                      > >...Even the medallions that protected Marco Polo and
                      > >other westerns in their journeys, the paiza, issued by the Khan, appear
                      > >to have been cast from punches. It is uncertain if any of the Asian
                      > >paper materials that had been printed from cast type made their way to
                      > >Europe.
                      >
                      >
                      > Yes, it's really fascinating to see the wax "punches" used by the
                      Romans*, and consider how matters might have turned out if some
                      enterprising Roman had thought to use multiples of these things to
                      produce movable type -- rudimentary as it may have been -- 1500 years
                      before Gutenberg
                      >
                      > *I recall the example in Fred Goudy's "The Alphabet and Elements of
                      Lettering"
                      >
                      > However, the 'books' I was thinking of were the woodcut books, full
                      pages from each block, regarding Mr. David's attitude about
                      impressions from calligraphic originals, regardless of the form,
                      scroll or codex.
                      > As far as the codex, I'm not sure that it was exclusive to the West
                      *, in any case, as there are plenty of examples of Oriental scrolls
                      bound as 'accordion' books, or in fact, of accordions punched through
                      and sewn. (Of which, I'm sure sure you are aware!)
                      > However, I don't recall the time line of when these are known.
                      Perhaps it's after contact with the West...
                      >
                      > *unless the technical definition precludes accordion books in favor
                      of collections of signatures...
                      >
                      > Not my area of expertise, but I'm interested ;-)
                      >
                      > Ciao!
                      >
                      > P
                      >
                      >
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