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Typo: A Monthly Newspaper and Literary Review, Volume 4

Design in Typography. The 'Preciosa' Combination And Ribbon

page 113

Design in Typography. The 'Preciosa' Combination And Ribbon.


We have already, in considering the development of Ribbon and Tablet designs, described and illustrated a series (that of Bruce, of New York), in which founts of type were combined with the Ribbon, and the letter and design were inseparable. We mentioned a suggestion made at the time by the writer of these articles, that the value of the design would be greatly increased if the beaded pattern could be produced separately to combine with the end-pieces, leaving an opening to admit any style of type; and further, that an advance in this direction was soon afterwards made by MacKellar in the « Zigzag » Combination. We now come to the only combination in which this idea has been thoroughly, systematically, and scientifically developed—the « Preciosa » and « Schildschrift, » produced in 1882 by Messrs Schelter and Giesecke, of Leipzig.

As we do not possess this beautiful but costly series, we cannot do more than show a few of its accessories, and describe its principle. The border was a bead-pattern with a unit of 3-point, justifying to a single unit, and provided with numerous appropriate head-pieces, centre-pieces, and exterior ornaments. Some of these we show:—

Appropriate founts, on 24-, 18-, and 12-point, were cast for the interior of the tablet space. It was necessary that each letter should be set to a 3-point unit, and in the 12-point size some little distortion is apparent, the C and S, for example, being somewhat extended, and the R and Y disproportionately condensed. As the fount was intended for color-work there was a quadruple supply of the letters: (a) the letter in white on stippled ground; (b) the same on solid ground; (c) the solid letter; (d) a shade, or imperfect letter to produce the effect of blocking. The ornamental ends and centres, on the same principle, were cast in triplicate. The effect, as shown by the founders, worked in two or three harmonious colors, in perfect register, was very fine. Some years afterwards these founts were supplemented by a « Schmale » or condensed series, on the same bodies as the original, with the addition of a 36-point fount. The (d) or shade section in these founts was made a perfect letter by the addition of a hair-line—a decided improvement. The new founts were adapted to the same accessories as the original series, and supplemented with some very large and fine ornaments intended for the 36-point fount.

This series stands alone, and is a valuable addition to the resources of the typographer. Though named « Shieldtype, » it is more in the nature of a tablet design, and has none of the properties of the ribbon. But it occurred to the New York firm of Conner's Sons, who purchased the American rights to this series, to extend and adapt it to a ribbon combination, and the result, which appeared in 1886, was a somewhat curious composite design. To the « Preciosa » proper Messrs Conner first added the following four characters:— then the following ribbon pieces:— some elliptical ornaments from Schelter & Giesecke's Architectural series, and the following accessories:—

Fifty characters in all.

The chief original feature in Conner's ribbon is that it will turn at a right angle. The wide end-pieces enable a 30-point line to be set inside. The solid angle-pieces are for the « Schildschrift » in color-work. The design is in several respects defective; but chiefly in the matter of one-sidedness, so characteristic of American combinations. If the ribbon turns down at one end it must turn up at the other, and a symmetrical and well-balanced design cannot be constructed. There are, however, cases in which it may be used with excellent effect, and to the printer already possessing the « Preciosa » it will be specially useful, as enlarging the capabilities of that valuable design.