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Typo: A Monthly Newspaper and Literary Review, Volume 2

Design in Typography. — Head and Tail Pieces

page 63

Design in Typography.
Head and Tail Pieces.

The class of ornaments known as Head- and Tail-Pieces come into the general category of Vignettes. They form one of the great attractions of early works decorated by hand; and they are extensively and effectively used in the best modern printing. In the finer class of art books these ornaments are specially engraved, and adapted to the subject of each chapter; but in the great majority of cases, they are used from stock, and are entirely fanciful, without reference to the text. All the typefounders keep a miscellaneous assortment; and some of the German houses, such as Flinsch, Genzsch & Heyse, Klinkhardt, Schelter & Giesecke, Weisert, and others, make a specialty of this line, and keep an enormous variety, to which additions are continually being made. The chief rule in the use of these ornaments, is to be careful that the initials, head- and tail-pieces in a single page or piece of work harmonize in style.

Head-pieces (like tail-pieces and initials), may be divided into two classes—first, those enclosed within a parallelogram or other regular figure; and secondly, those which are free or irregular in outline. The first class is again subdivided into those with solid or stippled background, and those in which the background is white. In some specimen-books the same device may be found in three forms—enclosed in a boundary-line with solid background; in boundary line without ground; and free—the boundary line removed. As a specimen of the first class, we shew the following, from Reed:—

The following, from Figgins, is a good example of the head-piece without background:—

and the following, from Miller & Richard, illustrates the entirely open style:—

The first class are now imitated, and to some extent superseded, by a style of combination borders, at present produced only by the German foundries. In 1880 Messrs Schelter & Giesscke struck out a new line with their « Florentine » combination, since followed by the « Holbein, » « Akanthea, » and others admirably adapted for headpieces; and not a year has since passed without one or more borders of this class making their appearance in Germany. We may note Assmann's « Heraldic, » Weisert's « Venetian,! Woellmer's splendid and costly « Renaissance, » (188 characters), Flinsch's equally fine « Deutsche-Renaissance, » Klinkhardt's « Germania, » and Poppelbaum's pretty « Albrecht-Dürer, » an example of which we shew here, besides another on p. 65. The miniature specimen at the head of this article is composed from a border by Schelter & Giesecke. With two or three of these founts, the printer could construct head- and side-pieces, the combinations of which he could not exhaust in a life-time.

In centre-vignettes and tail-pieces the variety is greater still. They are made in all sizes, from a long-primer body or smaller, to large and handsome designs. They are occasionally enclosed in a triangle, square, circle, or oval; but more frequently the design is left free. The favorite form is a triangle, apex downwards.

In 1881, Julius Klinkhardt published his eleventh specimen-book of 22 quarto pages, entirely occupied with a new series of initials, head-pieces, and tail-pieces, specially designed by Professor Hugo Strohl, Vienna. French, German, Italian, Persian, and many other styles of art were represented. We shew two of these graceful designs:

In later specimens, the same house has shewn many new subjects. The following silhouettes, also by Klinkhardt, are from a series of eleven, cast in two sizes:

The following are a few of the smaller designs out of the great number shewn by Schelter & Giesecke: and these are from the large collection of the Flinsch Foundry:

Mayeur, of Paris, as we have already noted, shews a choice collection. Those in the English books are to a great extent of German design; but the two pretty national subjects, by Stephenson & Blake, shewn above, are original.

page 64

With the exception of Zeese of Chicago, and the Western Electrotype Foundry, St. Louis, very few American houses take the trouble to originate designs of this class, preferring to obtain them from Europe. In Messrs Conners' Sons' Messenger, to hand this month, there are two or three small sets of book-ornaments, somewhat black and rough in execution. A series of marginal vignettes, of a comic kind, represents the « brownies, » —which are a feature at present in American illustrated juvenile literature—in grotesque attitudes, running and tumbling. We do not like them. It would have been as easy, and more artistic, to have designed pretty and graceful figures, instead of ugly little monstrosities.

We have mentioned that an inexhaustible variety of beautiful head- and side-pieces may now be composed from combination borders and ornaments. The same holds good with regard to centre- and tail-pieces. Almost any modern combination may be appropriately made use of in this manner; and where light and graceful effects are desired, the « line ornaments » will be found to afford an indefinite variety.