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Typo: A Monthly Newspaper and Literary Review, Volume 3

Specimens of Printing

page 36

Specimens of Printing.

Excellent specimens of art-printing have reached us from various quarters during the past two months. From the office of the McKeesport Times, Philadelphia, we have a pretty « booklet » of new-year greetings with tastefully-displayed advertisements. The cover, in three colors, is very good. The same establishment sends us a sixteen-page quarto pamphlet showing some of its latest productions in job-work. A photo-electro portrait, and another portrait in photo-etching, reflect the highest credit on the gentlemen in charge of the press-room. In fact, the presswork throughout is faultless. The work is in the latest American style, but without the studied eccentricity which is now so common. We might, if we were disposed to be critical, take exception to the green stars spotted over the introductory circular—they are too suggestive of the manner in which literature is treated by the London trunkmakers. The title-page of the Union Savings Fund report, with the main line in red, is an excellent piece of work, and not beyond the range of the ordinary comp in any well-equipped office. The Mendelssohn Club programme, in two colors, is neat and effective, and in this and other jobs two-color initials and ornaments are introduced with excellent effect. The firm's own billhead is simple and effective, and there is scarcely a job in the book from which an observant workman might not gather a « wrinkle. »

Specimens of Letterpress Printing is the title of a quarto book of about forty pages, sent to us through our London agents by Messrs Raithby & Lawrence, art printers, Leicester. The cover is a striking piece of letter-press, in gold, green, and black, on a deep chocolate-brown paper, set in various sizes of « Mother Hubbard, » with two-color missal initials, and fantastically adorned with « Chaostype. » The half-title, also in « Mother Hubbard, » with initial in two colors, is very simple and tasteful in arrangement. The frontispiece is a beautiful engraving of « Cinderella, » with unobtrusive border in gray tint. The title-page is in various sizes of « Karnae, » with gray groundwork, two bright panels of « Chaostype, » and a realistic butterfly, in bright colors. A simple and very effective piece of work is a circular on a white scroll, laid cornerwise on a mottled pink tint-ground. A church membership card, German borders and American fancy letters, in gold and purple brown, is very handsome. The title of the International Specimen Exchange, vol. ix, is a very harmonious piece of work, in two colors—a heavy border (the « Holbein » ) in dark yellow, and the whole of the letter-press in black, set in various sizes of « Karnac. » These, and several artistically-displayed cards, are the pieces of work that strike us as calling for special notice. In every case the quality of the ink and of the presswork is of the best. The style of the display, in the whole, is after American models, but less unrestrained. The borders, initials, and ornaments, are chiefly German, and we note one very pretty set of German ornaments that we have not as yet seen in any of the specimen-books.—The business people in the colonies flatter themselves that they are of a « go-ahead » disposition—but as regards advertising they are a long way behind. We do not know a business firm in New Zealand that would be willing to pay for such work as we see in this book. « As cheap as possible » is the almost invariable instruction—and under such conditions there is little encouragement for the exercise of artistic skill.

From the office of l'Intermédiare we have specimens of four jobs, the result of a prize competition. The copy is the same in each—a punning menu of a printers' dinner; but the treatment is exceedingly diverse. They are all specimens of ingenious rule-work, and three out of the four of careful color-printing. The first and second prize specimens must have given the judges some difficulty. No 1 is a fine piece of work, all in one page, with a very original rule-work border. No. 2, four pages, is more elaborate, and exhibits great ingenuity, and is in every way a credit to the designer. The little caricature Egyptian ornaments illustrating the bill of fare are inserted in a way that shows considerable sense of humor. No. 3, in black on a pink card, is a clever piece of rule-work. The spiral round the columns is striking, but the general effect does not seem to repay the large amount of skill and labor bestowed. No 4 is very tasteful both in composition and arrangement of tints. All four are distinguished by originality of design and excellent workmanship.

Messrs Mills, Dick, & Co., Dunedin, send us a neat engraved business card, in four printings. The initals are brought out in carmine on a, pale blue tint ground, and the remainder of the lettering is in chocolate-color and black.

Messrs Foster, Roe, & Crone, whose « art fakes » we noticed in our issue of October, 1887, have sent us a finely-printed book of 64 pages, containing some hundreds of their original ornaments, and specimens of work in which these are employed. It is the most remarkable example of art printing we have ever seen, and exhibits extraordinary versatility of style and fertility of invention. The cover, in four colors, in which the jagged letters in gold burst like forked lightning from a cloud, is about the finest piece of American eccentric printing yet produced. The sub-title, in blue, is one of the quietest and most subdued pages possible, the two plain lines being relieved by two bands of stipple border, edged with brass-rule. The roughly-drawn ornaments need to be seen to be appreciated;—some of them are monstrosities: and the numerous caricatures of Egyptian art are ludicrous in the extreme. The jobs in this book demonstrate that the wildest eccentricities that typefounders have designed may be turned to effective use. But how many compositors could do it? There are some wonderful color effects, often produced by printing various irregular borders one over the other. This will answer for « Astral » and « Foster » ornaments, and others of the kind; but when, as in Berger & Wirth's advertisement, a band of border is printed across a design showing human figures and trees, the ornaments are mutually destructive. Some of the ground tintwork is exceedingly fine—in other examples, it is suggestive of a wall in neutral tint, against which an egg has been dashed. There are some admirable effects in rule-work. Every page evidences thought and study, both in the composing-room and press department, and there is not an advertisement in the book which does not compel attention.