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Typo: A Monthly Newspaper and Literary Review, Volume 3

Design in Typography. Borders.—Centre-Pieces and Stop-Pieces

page 57

Design in Typography. Borders.—Centre-Pieces and Stop-Pieces.


From the consideration of purely elementary forms—the dot, the line, the corner, and the diagonal—we proceed to those ornamentations and developments of the design which distinguish the combination from the plain border. And though the centre-piece (and its allied form, the stop-piece) are not among the primary requisites of a good combination, they are so closely associated with the corner as to follow in natural sequence. It is, however, the ornamental, and not the plain corner, with which they correspond.

The leading points at which a border may be decorated are eight. First, the four corners. But if the border surround a large page, and the corners be freely decorated, an appearance of nakedness results as regards the rest of the design. This suggests ornamentation at the sides, and the centres of the four lines are the proper places for decoration. Here the border may expand, or be decorated with external ornaments, in all cases corresponding with the corners. If further decoration is desired, it should come exactly midway between these points, and should, where possible, be subordinated. Taking the following line as the side of a border, we find the points of decoration to fall thus:—

Here is an example of a border thus ornamented:—

Of course the division into halves is not absolutely essential (though we always prefer it for the main ornament B—the centre being the only point equal in importance to the corner), and the ornament may with equal propriety be thus distributed:

A c c B c c A

There are two ways of swelling or expanding the border at the corners. One is the method of the designer, who elaborates the pattern itself by curving, doubling, or interlacing, as in the ribbon border above, or in the following:—

This necessitates the devising and casting of those special pieces which constitute a « combination » border in the ordinary sense of the word. The other method is that of the compositor, who enforces the design by the addition of internal or external ornaments (or both), which may have no direct relation to the border itself. For example:

In this kind of work, care must be taken to avoid discordant effects.

The relation of the ornamental corner and centre-piece is very noticeable in certain combinations, where the same piece, with the aid of a square corner, is made to fill both offices. There are many examples in the old French borders:

Closely allied to the ornamental corner in combination work, is the stop-piece—an often-forgotten, but very useful sort. The following is an example of a character which is available in either capacity:

We have often, in a card or programme, found the stop-piece very useful in giving a good finish to a border left open in the centre to admit an emblem or device too large to be included within the limits of the border. Figgins's « Imperial » combinations contain excellent examples of specially-designed centres and stop-pieces. In another combination (French)—the « Flexible Lace » of Figgins, and « Series No. 2 » of Caslon, there is a valuable character, which, while not of any special importance in the series to which it belongs, will suit almost any combination, enabling it to be used with brass rule, and which is also admirably adapted for a finish to Oxford corners. It is singular that so very few of the principal combinations are provided with a character of this description, which is often required to bring a design to a neat and appropriate finish. We show this piece, first with its own border, and afterwards in some of its adaptations to other combinations: