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Typo: A Monthly Newspaper and Literary Review, Volume 4

Recent Specimens

page 63

Recent Specimens.

Every month we have proofs of the increasing specimen-book, with supplementry sheets, in which we note many new and useful productions. At the end of the book we find a collection of the extras, peculiars, and accents cast by this house to long-primer, which occupies three pages, and represents some three thousand characters—and even then is not exhaustive, for the italic small-caps, plain and accented, with which our own fount is supplemented, do not appear. No other sizes are shown; but the liberal supply of extras to one fount may be taken to indicate a similar abundance of bookwork requisites on other bodies. Several new faces of body-letter are shown, maintaining the high reputation of the British houses for beauty and uniformity of cut. It is significant that the latest faces are modern—not old-style. Of substantial and serviceable job-letters, we note grotesque No. 4 from pearl to 8-line, antique No. 12, nonpareil to 8-line, and a new condensed sanserif, No. 5. We confess that we do not exactly know what class the term « grotesque » is intended to indicate. It appears to be synonymous with the well-understood word « sanserif. » Antique No. 1, with its sharp square serifs and almost uniform thickness of stroke, is probably newly cut, but after an old pattern, not much in favor now. Black No. 5 in six sizes, is a very handsome letter, with ornamental caps, in the modern German style. We find the « Celtic » series completed as low as brevier, the light and pretty « Corinthian » to nonpareil; and a new design (after the « Lafayette » style) entitled « Mexican, » in great-primer and double-pica. Two old-fashioned borders are shown, on great-primer and double-pica respectively. There are a number of vignettes (1045 to 1053) in the landscape style now in vogue, some of which are very pretty. We think this is only a passing fashion, the style of decoration being necessarily so foreign to the subject in most classes of work. The series of old-style headpieces has been enriched by some new and very beautiful designs. A set of six, (998-1003) 21-em measure, are conventional patterns in the mediseval style, with heavy stippled backgrounds and light borders. By the omission of the borders, a very good set to 19-em measure would be produced. A set of ten larger ones (1010-1019)—the same measure, but a full inch deep, are landscape subjects in a light sketchy style, suggestive of etched work. They represent fishing, ploughing, lake and canal scenery, &c. Nine smaller landscape studies (1020-1028), 20x5 ems, are exquisitely finished. Six more, the same size (1029-1034), are finely executed fanciful subjects, representing the adventures of nude infants with insects, crabs, &c, of colossal proportions.

Caslon has produced a new and striking combination, of 16 characters, under the name of the « Walls » border, which is deserving of the highest commendation, or open to damaging criticism, according to the way in which it is regarded. The idea is that of an ivied wall, with corners representing birds at the top, and ferns and insects at the foot, the whole surrounded by a nonpareil tint. The drawing and engraving are excellent, the only fault being a slight occasional irregularity in the tint at the points of junction. Ten years ago, this combination would have been far more highly esteemed than it will be now. It is not an artistic success, though a great improvement on the « Floriated » of the Central Typefoundry, the only other combination in any way resembling this. The artistic defect of the design is that it is neither conventional nor realistic. It is in the region of « type-pietures, » and is not a good picture. We are at a loss to account for the marginal tint This alone is sufficient to destroy the intended effect. The wall and ivy are sharply defined for the breadth of a great-primer all round, and then suddenly disappear, leaving a white space for the type. A realistic wall combination is quite practicable—in fact has been wrought out ere now simply with rule and tints. To be a success, it should cover the whole ground with the exception of so much as is cut sharply off by rule to represent a poster or board. To break the stiffness, ivy or other creepers might be made to stray over this boundary-line into the portion allotted to the text. Then the eye would be satisfied with the effect. Now that Caslon has cleared the way, something of this kind is sure to follow.

The Marr Typefounding Company, Limited, Edinburgh, send us a beautifully printed specimen of jobbing founts, eight pages quarto, three columns to the page. There is an admirable and varied selection of useful styles; among which we do not notice any with which we are not familiar. The nomenclature varies from that of other books. Thus Caslon's « Ecclesiastic » is shown under the name of « Saxon Black, » and « Lafayette » is styled « Ornate. » This is perplexing to the printer, who has already too many arbitrary names to bear in mind.

From M. Gustave Mayeur, Paris, we have a parcel of specimens noticeable as much for fine printing as for the high quality of the type. A little calendar, worked in tints and colors, with a Japanese fan in rule-work, is quite a gem, and brings in a remarkable number of borders and ornaments without overcrowding. Some of the business cards issued by the firm are enclosed, and are of tasteful and striking design. We have more examples of a specialty of this firm— some grand romans and italics after 17th and 18th century models, but cut with a uniformity and precision far beyond what the old engravers could accomplish. Sample types accompanying the specimens enable us to show all three sizes of the handsome « Algerian Ornate » noted by us last year. We were then unaware of anything special in the casting of this style; but we find it to be on an oblique body, with a marked peculiarity in the form, as described in another part of this month's issue. The bodies are 30-, 42-, and 56-point. This style will commend itself to tasteful job-printers.

The Lindsay Foundry, New York, send us card specimens of their new styles, most of which we have noted already. The pretty « Mathilde » appears in two smaller sizes, 18- and 12-point. « Edith » is a neat sans, the perpendicular lines projecting above and below the line. « Irene » is a wide shaded old-style tint-faced antique—a kind of letter that is now somewhat out of fashion. It is provided with word-ornaments.