The Book Club of California celebrated its 235th publication with a lecture tour, of sorts, for members and friends up and down the Golden State during the month of May. Robert Bringhurst’s Palatino: The Natural History of a Typeface is an important and elegantly produced book that is as much about the typographer as it is about the typeface. Hosted at the new Hoffmitz Milken Center for Typography at Pasadena’s ArtCenter College of Design, Bringhurst gave an illustrated talk about his book, Hermann Zapf and the typographer’s sixty-year devotion to the Palatino typeface. Spanning the major eras in printing history, Zapf’s compulsion, dictated by his uncompromising attention to detail, resulted in Palatino being designed for foundry type, redesigned for film, and redesigned again for digital typography. Bringhurst’s exploration of these modifications was the impetus for the book and he shared some of the highlights during his lecture. As he explained, he wrote a natural history of a typeface through the life of Hermann Zapf. [Read more]
Does anyone have a good obituary of Morris Arthur Gelfand (1908-1998) that would give me a sketch of his career?
Richard M. Candee
Recent Taiwanese media stories about a letterpress shop for sale on the island have helped preserve an estimated 80,000 traditional Chinese letterpress lead type characters from possible destruction. These particular types are rare due not only to the transition to modern printing technologies but have been since the adoption of simplified Chinese characters following the Communist victory in mainland China. [Read more]
A school better known for its high-tech achievements has recently focused its students on building a low-tech wooden common press. Ten Massachusetts Institute of Technology students had the chance in Fall 2016 to participate in 21H.343 “Making Books: The Renaissance and Today,” an interdisciplinary class that integrated studies of history, rare books, and printing press construction. [Read more]
Via the contact form:
I am researching a series of books written by George Sand that were produced as limited editions by The De Vinne Press for George H. Richmond Co. between 1893 and 1897. Contemporary advertising indicates that the books in the set were limited to 750 copies each on Windsor paper. The copy I have of Fadette has a beautiful pictorial cover of a group of iris in gold on black cloth — it is very unusual — as it looks engraved and definitely has raised and sunken portions to it — almost as if the cloth had been carved. I would like to try to find out the method by which this dimensionality in the binding design was achieved as well as who designed the binding. For this, I assume I would have to have access to the De Vinne production records if they still exist.
Printing from Bewick’s block is not only an honor, but also a challenge to get a good print from a block that is not type high, but also wavy, dented and also in need of serious cleaning of dried ink left over from printers past.
For those unfamiliar with his work, Thomas Bewick (1753–1828) was an English engraver, illustrator, naturalist and author. He is remembered for the artistic beauty and technical quality of his wood engraving blocks, most of which are depictions of birds and rural life. [Read more]
This is the third in a series of posts that will appear throughout the year.
The process of researching wooden common presses for the sake of building a historically accurate reconstruction is an intensive one, to say the least. While most college students would have spent their Spring Breaks relaxing and goofing off, some of my teammates and I spent our break traveling through New England visiting printing presses. That’s not to say the trip wasn’t fun, but it was intense. We saw four presses in as many days and as many states. Three were original presses from the early eighteenth century (or possibly the late seventeenth, because the provenance of some isn’t clear), and one was a reconstruction made in 1950 from a design by Ralph Green, an engineer and amateur historian of printing presses. [Read more]
The American Printing History Association is currently accepting applications for the position of editor of its flagship publication, Printing History. The journal is published in print twice a year. This is a part-time position which pays the editor a stipend of $2500 per issue and has a term limit of five years. [Read more]
An interesting intersection of Deaf history and print history in America took place early in the nineteenth century. As is well documented by scholars Jack Gannon, John Vickrey Van Cleve, Susan Burch, and R.R. Edwards, among others, the story of the “silent,” or “deaf press,” had its modest beginnings in 1836, starting with the Canajoharie Radii (site of the Central New York Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb), a paper printed by a Levi S. Backus, for the benefit of both deaf and hearing readers. The success of this publication led faculty at the American Asylum for the Deaf (Hartford, Connecticut) to start a paper at that school, which later became The American Annals of the Deaf in 1847. The Deaf Mute, out of the North Carolina School for the Deaf, set up shop soon after, in 1849 (Gannon 238-250, Edwards 111-13). [Read more]