Posts Tagged ‘typography’

Grand Gargantua: a photographic history of typography from the 15th to the 19th century

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Ooooooo. This is going to be neat.

Paul Dijstelberge, a bibliographer and an Associate Professor at the University of Amsterdam, and his colleague John, Editor of the I Love Typography blog, are producing a unique history of typography: they are taking high-resolution images of 50,000 printed works from the 15th to the 19th centuries, tagging them, and posting them online with commentary. Their project is called Grand Gargantua and will occupy them over the next few years. All images will show samples of printing from the University of Amsterdam library. Click here to see a sample of the images they’ve taken so far.

It will be interesting to see the extent to which Paul and John annotate each specimen. For now, it’s fun to run your fingers through the flashing jewels of this collection.

— Paul Razzell

The private-press spirit in a nutshell

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

“I decided simply to publish an edition, if for no other reason than that I would then have a copy myself.”

This quote, from Jason Dewinetz of Greenboathouse Press, really sums up the private-press spirit. The edition Jason is referring to is Felice Feliciano’s Alphabetum Romanum, “an instructional treatise on the correct rendering of Roman capital letters, written by Feliciano in 1463.” Jason is redrawing Feliciano’s letters from scratch, and will issue a new edition of the work in the (hopefully) not-too-distant future. You can learn more about Jason’s work on the Alphabetum Romanum and other Greenboathouse Press projects on his blog.

Above: A page from the original 1463 manuscript (left), the 1960 Officina Bodoni edition (centre) and a working drawing for the Greenboathouse Press edition (right).

—Paul Razzell

Jim Rimmer’s typefoundry finds a new home

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

This past Sunday several hundred people gathered at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver to celebrate the memory of Jim Rimmer, typographer, typefounder, printer, and graphic artist.

Since Jim’s passing in January of this year, many people in the printing, typography, and fine press communities have been worried — and with good reason — that Jim’s typefounding and casting knowledge would pass on with him.

It was an exciting moment, then, when the young and energetic Jason Dewinetz of Greenboathouse Press announced in his eulogy that much of Jim’s typefounding and printing equipment will not be moved to a museum or university archive. Instead, Jason has arranged to purchase this equipment from the Rimmer family and move it to Vernon, B.C., where it will continue to be used in the production of finely printed books. We couldn’t hope for a better home for this equipment.

Jason’s announcement was a relief to many, just as it was a relief to learn several years ago that Richard Kegler of P22 Typefoundry had purchased the rights to distribute Jim’s digital font library, thereby relieving Jim of the task of promoting his own work—something Jim seemed constitutionally unable to do.

It is great to see Jim’s legacy passed on in such a tangible way.

Two documentaries about Jim Rimmer in the works:

Many of you already know that Richard Kegler is finishing work on a documentary film about Jim Rimmer called Making Faces: A Documentary on Cutting Metal Type. See

There is another Rimmer documentary in the works: Ryan Mah, who apprenticed with Jim, filmed Jim at work every Sunday for three years. This footage is now being edited and From Lead to Gold: A Portrait of Jim Rimmer will appear this fall. You can watch the trailer here:

Rimmer from Ryan Mah on Vimeo.

We’ll report on both of these films when they are released.

— Paul Razzell

Russell Maret presents the fruits of his Roman alphabetical investigations

Friday, April 9th, 2010

Lecture title: Notes of an Alphabetical Fetishist: Lettered in Rome

Place: Butler Library Room 523, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, 535 West 114th St.
New York, NY 10027

Date: April 20 at 6:00 p.m.

From the Columbia Rare Book & Manuscript Library:

Russell Maret will discuss his recent alphabetical investigations and experiments conducted while a fellow of the American Academy in Rome. Russell’s initial intention in Rome was to document and analyze lettering in the catacombs. Upon arrival, however, he was quickly diverted by the great variety of classical lettering styles; and what began as an inquiry into non-Imperial lettering developed into a more playful study of diverse alphabetical “themes.” Join Russell for a tour of what he found in Rome and what he made as a result.

— Paul Razzell

Typefounding on the frontier: The first Canadian types

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009


Imagine you are a 19th-century English missionary posted to a remote community in Manitoba, then part of Upper Canada, and your job is to evangelize the natives—only half of whom can read English. There are several local languages but they share no common orthography and there are no printed prayer books, Bibles or other materials in the languages of the locals. How, then, do you preach the gospel? James Evans (1801–1846) was just such a missionary and admirably rose to this challenge, learning several languages, inventing a new system of orthography and, in the true frontier spirit, producing his own type from bullets and the lead lining of tea chests. These were the first Canadian types. Matrices were made by carving letterforms in endgrain Oak, ink made from lampblack and fish oil, paper made from birch bark, etc.

If you’re curious about Evans’ work, you’ll be interested in the experiment Ross Mills carried out over at Tiro Typeworks: Ross, a type designer who works in the digital medium (and, with his Tiro partner John Hudson, has created digital fonts for the Canadian syllabic scripts Inuktitut and Cree) has tried to duplicate Evans’ method of fashioning matrices, type, and paper and has recorded the experiment in photos, which you can see here. Read more about Evans’ evangelical work here.

—Paul Razzell

“Dearth of Typographic Expression in E-books”

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009


“As books make the leap from cellulose and ink to electronic pages, some editors worry that too much is being lost in translation. Typography, layout, illustrations and carefully thought-out covers are all being reduced to a uniform, black-on-gray template that looks the same whether you’re reading Pride and Prejudice, Twilight or the Federalist Papers.”

E-books may not be ugly forever, but for now the dull-grey template is going to have to do. Read the full Wired article here. Interesting to see book design and typography make the news.

—Paul Razzell

Typographic tour of London

Monday, April 6th, 2009

A Typographic Survey of the City of London from Michael Bojkowski on Vimeo.
— Paul Razzell

Mayor proclaims April 25th 2009 Typography Day in Vancouver

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009


Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson has proclaimed April 25th ‘Typography Day’ in acknowledgement of the conference ‘Justified West: A day of typography,’ which will be held on April 25th, 2009. The conference is hosted by the new Advanced Typography program at Langara College (in Vancouver) and takes place at the Plaza 500 Hotel in Vancouver from 9am to 6pm. Read more.

— Paul Razzell