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Re: Calligraphy and deep impression

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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.



            --
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            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
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          • 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 5 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 6 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 7 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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