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Typo: A Monthly Newspaper and Literary Review, Volume 5

Design in Typography — L. — A Typographic Fantasy

page 13

Design in Typography
A Typographic Fantasy.

Before proceeding further with the consideration of the later developments of the Banner design, we will turn aside to the examination of one of the most recent of modern combinations—one which will be new to nearly all our readers. While adhering generally to the systematic treatment of our subject as laid down in one of the earlier chapters, we have at times found it both pleasant and profitable to stray from the immediate point under consideration. In the present case, a novelty has reached us, from a far-away city on the Continent, and while it is still fresh we will deal with it, feeling sure that it will be of more immediate interest to artistic printers than those designs which—though quite necessary to our scheme—have been more or less familiar to them for several years past.

The house of Rudhard, Offenbach-on-the-Main, is known to us only by a parcel of specimens received eighteen months ago, and by a quarto specimen-book just to hand, and more fully noted elsewhere. The borders shown in the earlier specimens were for the most part marked not only by artistic and delicate execution, but by a classical repose and dignity. Of quite a different stamp is the « Humoristische-Fantasie » combination, a font of which accompanied the specimen-book, and which consists of the fifty characters set forth in the synopsis in the preceding column.

The quaint conceits of this little design are in the latest German style. The large figure-pieces give the key to its motive. The cook, the waiter and waitress, are appropriate to the artistic class of bills-of-fare; the musical and dancing figures, to program-work; and the baby-sportsman, the boy butterfly-hunting, and the children with the flowers, are specially applicable to open-air festivities. The numerous smaller subjects are all in harmony with the main design. The figures are all decorative rather than realistic, sketched with a light and graceful hand, and full of gentle humor. The subjects are cosmopolitan; unlike those of trolls, gnomes, babies in slippers or borne by storks—intelligible only to those versed in Teutonic folk-lore.

Every combination border, however, has to be judged by a standard quite apart from the artistic, and that is the mathematical. Before the compositor has put half-a-dozen pieces together, the questions arise—؟How do these combine? ؟How do the lines adapt themselves to the work in hand? Fifty pieces, in most cases, should more than satisfy the required mathematical conditions; but in this instance the variation in size has to be considered. It is much easier to meet all geometric requirements in a border on one or two bodies than in the case of one like this, which is on eight—for there are pieces to 6·, 12·, 18·, 24·, 30·, 36·, 66·, and 72·.The problem has been well considered, and all the points of contact are judiciously arranged, so that the pieces may be combined with the minimum of trouble in justification. However, it is here that the border does in a measure fall short.

It is scarcely possible to look at it without thinking of the old and delightful « Ivy. » In one sense these borders are complementary. Just where the Ivy is weak—in the absence of large pieces—this is strong. The strong point of the Ivy, the forty little characters providing for every possible combination from the four central and four corner points, is not found in the present combination. The two would not combine in the full sense, as the leaves and flowers in the design before us are not ivy; but the numerous sprays and tendrils in the older combination unprovided with leaves, would supply all the geometrical deficiencies in the border before us. For there are deficiencies. In the smaller and many of the larger characters, the division into lefts, rights, and centres is well maintained; but there is no piece smaller than 12· x 6· The compositor will not have it long in hand before he wishes for a 6· x 6· piece to continue or connect one of his lines. A piece of primary importance is the quadrant corner, on 12· x 12· body, carrying a line to opposite corners of the quarter-square, 6· x 6·. It is practically absent, these two characters only imperfectly supplying its place. They may be in some cases be used for , but their real purpose (when used connectively) is for the square and half-square diagonals, / and / respectively. It may be that the printer is supposed to be already supplied with some smaller combination; for with the Ivy as an adjunct, every possible problem of construction could be overcome. An oversight on the part of the artist is manifest in the one-sidedness of the figure-subjects. Of nine single figures, two are full-faced, seven turn more or less to the right, and not one to the left. This prevents them from being neatly paired.

These deficiencies are trivial, and it must be borne in mind that the combination is not a formal border. Its chief use is for a pretty fancy corner or vignette to fill an open space in ticket or program, and we know of no type-combination better suited to the purpose. The construction of a vignette or the decoration of an initial, which, with the Ivy, would occupy an hour, could be done in five minutes with this little combination, while the child-figures and animal-subjects impart an interest which a design consisting of foliage only does not page 14possess. Note the graceful drawing of the birds, the vigorous life in the miniature figures of the frog, the squirrels, and the hare, the two cats—prowling and meditative, the unguarded nest, the bird-sentry sounding his call of alarm, and the crowing cock. Only an observer and lover of nature could have woven so many quaint fancies into so simple a scheme of decoration, and the combination—apart from the examples shown in the founder's sheet—is full of suggestions to the artistic compositor.

It gives us pleasure to be able to lay before our readers so novel and so pretty a series, and we do not doubt that many of them will lose no time in adding it to stock. We would recommend them to obtain at the same time a supply of justifiers, as the standards of the German foundries, though nominally the same, vary quite sufficiently to cause difficulty in accurate work, where the border of one house is spaced with the quads of another.

According to Texas Siftings, four periodicals are born and two die daily in the United States.