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Typo: A Monthly Newspaper and Literary Review, Volume 4

Recent Specimens

page 103

Recent Specimens.

Still they come!—the new additions to our library of specimens. This month we have three handsome volumes from our friends on the Continent of Europe. The largest is the fine complete specimen-book of the old-established house of Brendler & Marklowsky, Vienna, whose beautiful periodical, Wiener Typen, we noticed in our April number. It is a stout and substantially-bound volume, large octavo size, and the different sections of the book are prefaced by beautifully-illuminated title-pages. The first section consists of « Fraktur, » or German type, « Schwabacher, » and plain and ornamental old English, including the « Caxton » series. The second section, « Antiqua » —a large book in itself—contains a full variety of romans, italics, fancy styles, and scripts. Section 3 is devoted to Greek, Hebrew, and Russian, and contains the largest collection of these faces that we have yet seen. Besides the ordinary Hebrew, a somewhat different form is shown under the name of « Weiberdeutsch. » We have not only the ordinary Greek founts and large titlings, but every variety of fat-faced, clarendon, antique, expanded, condensed, sloping, sanserif, and fancy, not even omitting the Elzevir romau and modern latin styles, and scripts. These, we imagine, are for modern Greek, and the job printer in that language will find as many styles as his colleague who uses the roman character. The same remark applies to the Russian founts. In fact, the founder has adopted the sensible and economical fashion—which no English house seems ever to have thought of—of making the characters for the Roman, Greek, and Russian interchangeable. Thus, for example, the character A with the same power, and the characters H and P with different powers are used in all three alphabets, and to complete a Greek or Russian fount all that is necessary is to cut a sufficient number of extra sorts to correspond. This seems to have been done systematically throughout. It is specially noticeable in the pretty « Brendler » script. The identical face turns up three times—first as an ordinary script, secondly as a Greek, and thirdly as a Russian. In all cases the figures, flourishes, and corresponding letters are identical. Strangely enough, no German script appears in the volume. No doubt all the German founders cast this face, but few show it in the ordinary books. Probably it is dying out, though we occasionally have to decipher it in manuscript in our correspondence from Germany. Besides the ordinary Russian character a series of old Slavonic is shown, under the name of « Cyrillische. » Section 4 contains borders, corners, and ornaments—many of them old familiar friends. The Pompeiian combination of twenty characters—which we found very useful last year in illustrating the elements of border-designs—is, we find, supplemented by a second series of forty-three characters, and, more important still, by a number of mitred sorts (half-square) for which we have often wished, and which (in chapter xxvii of these articles) we described as a desideratum—having then no idea that they could be obtained. With five of these, to supplement the twenty sorts of the original, we could produce almost any variety of shaded groundwork designs. The « Renaissance » border— something like the well-known Florentine—is a good design with only thirteen characters. The fifth and last section contains initials, signs, and vignettes. The finest series of initials is the « Olympic, » already noted by us. From the few examples in Wiener Typen we supposed that the large and small series differed only in size; but from the full specimens we note that though the figures are the same, they differ in the draperies, many of the larger series being nearly or entirely nude, while all the figures in the smaller series are draped. The numerous vignettes, calendar-heads, carnival designs, religious subjects, &c, do not call for much remark.

From Emil Berger, of Leipzig-Reudnitz, we have two volumes. The octavo, neatly bound, follows the general rule of recent German specimen-books, being classified into sections, each with illuminated title. It begins in the usual manner with a fine display of « Fraktur » and romans. To each body-fount a figure is appended, showing the number of lowercase letters to the line, set in alphabetical order. Each page has a red-line border, with rule corners, and a panel at the top for heading. There is a good variety of Russian and Greek founts, the latter including some good fat-face styles. There are ten Greek titlings, in all of which the Σ seems disproportionately extended, and in the 6-point, not only is this the case, but both Σ and ∆ are a little out of line. This strikes us as strange, especially as all the other letters are uniform in style. There are some beautifully-cut founts of Hebrew and Rabbinical. The selection of fancy styles, scripts, and old English is particularly rich, and there are good music founts also. There are four very good series of two-letter monograms—the only other founder we know who shows monograms is Klinkhardt. There are 176 pieces (including coronets) in a series, and one—Series 3—contains 259. Another specialty is a very pretty series of six initial-frames. A combination in four sections— white figures on a black ground-is headed « Kopfleisten, » implying that it is specially designed for headpieces. In the matter of combinations this founder, like a wise householder, brings forth from his treasures things both old and new—and in truth among the old borders there are some not easily « rubbed out. » The vignettes chiefly inspire us with the idea that steamboats and locomotives in the Fatherland are of an extremely old-fashioned type—the latter are nearly as primitive as George Stevenson's « Rocket. »

A fine quarto volume from the same house contains many of the same faces as the octavo, as well as those of the house of Gustav Reinhold, of Berlin, which is now united with that of Berger. We note in addition a very pretty original series of fancy roman, with lowercase, in five sizes. It has no distinctive name, but the series is numbered 2092-7. New to us also is a good eccentric letter with lowercase, 2103-7. Two other original series, on much the same lines, 429-33 and 434-8, are excellent letters; so also is 2144-8 (« Schiller » ) a condensed Italian with flourished caps. The numerous fine original combinations shown in this book were noted by us some months ago. The beautiful outline headpieces, series 2 and 3, deserve special mention. In the British Printer, just to hand, we note a pretty series of « Pictorial Ornaments » by the same firm.

From Sir Charles Reed and Son, of the Fann-street Foundry, we have specimens of « Clarendon Antique, » in three sizes, without lowercase. It is not unlike the « Wide » and « Condensed Latin » styles of Stephenson and Blake in its general contour; in width it is about the same as ordinary roman. « Maltese Shaded » is a decorated fancy roman of the old-style type, the caps adorned with flourishes. We recognize the face as that of Weisert's « Rhenania, » noted by us last year. « Inset Corners » (6 characters) are torn and turn-down corners on a solid ground. They are all the same size, about 4 ems pica square, and are so designed that any four may be used together. They are simple and effective.

H. Poppelbaum, of the Krebs Foundry, has brought out another pretty series of art vignettes, including pierced and sectional ornaments; also a charming series of Gothic initials, for one and two colors, with filigree ornaments for borderings and drop-pieces. The latter are so close an imitation of Schelter and Giesecke's series 67 that they might easily be mistaken for it; but not one character is exactly the same.

The Actiengesellschaft für Schriftgiesserei und Maschinenbau, of Offenbach-on-the-Main, has brought out a series of illustrated corners and centres, under the title of the « Gnome » border. We have not seen the complete specimen, but the four grotesque figures shown in an advertisement in a trade contemporary, are delightful examples of humorous design.

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English, American, and foreign founders have been vieing with each other lately in the production of artistic vignette ornaments; but we have seen none to surpass a new series shown by Harry Mitchell and Co., 12, Queen-street, Edinburgh—a name new to us. A printer who has laid in a stock of the beautiful menu and programme electros produced by this firm would find little use for the ready lithographed cards so freely used by colonial typographers.

« Wave » is a new modified sans, shown in four sizes by Farmer, Little, and Co. The lines are slightly waved throughout, giving a quaint appearance to the letter, which is bold and legible. There is one word-ornament, which is somewhat too large to look well.

« Amoret » initials are always in favor, and the latest we have seen is a very artistic alphabet in the Gothic style, the letters about ten-line, shown by the J. E. Mangan Company, St. Louis. The letters are in two styles, open, and black with white outline. We decidedly prefer the open style. Each initial has a beautiful floral decoration, and the little figures are as pretty as those in Poppelbaum's charming series. The same firm also show a choice and very varied selection of book-ornaments. They announce that a complete catalogue will shortly be issued. Goahead printers should look out for it.

« Harvard Italic » is a new fat-faced old-style job-letter produced by the Boston Foundry. Apart from ordinary use in old-style display, it is well-suited for emphasising words and sentences in circulars set in ordinary old-style italic.

Messrs James Conner's Sons, New York, show three new job-styles. « Forge » is a heavy letter, bearing some resemblance in thickness and general effect to MacKellar's « Keystone, » but with a pronounced old-style character about the caps which is altogether wanting in the lowercase. « Tremont » is a pleasing variety of ornamented latin, the A, Y, R, and similar letters projecting beyond the line: the figures, however, do not harmonise with the letter. It should become popular, and the printer is not likely to say, « What could have induced me to buy that fount? » We cannot say as much for « Randall, » something in the « Modoc » style, but not quite so distorted. Nevertheless, the alternative D, E, or P, either cap or lowercase, quite spoil any line where they appear. There are rationally-formed letters for those who prefer them. A word-ornament is supplied, exactly the size and style of a lowercase letter, and in form irresistibly suggesting the character æ!

The Keystone Foundry has hitherto kept clear of eccentrics; but this particular « grippe » has seized it at last, as evidenced by « Cellini » and « Remus. » The first is a wide flourished light-face old-style roman, possessing no special feature of originality; the other is very cranky—a kind of « Modoc, » only, wherever possible, the serif is replaced by a projecting line with the end curled up. It is not a style that would attract Typo's dollars.

Barnhart Bros. & Spindler show a full series of « Bisque, » 10- to 72-line. It is a plain condensed latin. One peculiar feature is, the disproportionately large lowercase. The descenders are atrophied almost to the vanishing point, and there is very little room for the ascending lines. This is overdone, and somewhat mars an otherwise excellent face. « Grant No. 2 » differs from No. 1 only in possessing lowercase. It is a grotesque heavy condensed, the lowercase letters, like those of « Bisque, » being very large. « Outline Stars, » five-pointed, in ten sizes, make very pretty light decorations.

Schelter and Giesecke's novelties include a set of 27 line-ornaments of large size, heavy, and in outline. They are very like the « Palm-metto » and « Contour » ornaments of Marder, Luse, and Co.

It seems somewhat late in the day for a new « Japanese » combination, but such a one has been produced by Julius Klinkhardt, under the title of the « Mikado, » series 69. It contains 74 characters, any of which may be had separately if required. It comprises two good bamboo borders, and a great number of little vignettes, well adapted for corner- and centre-ornaments. It is an exceedingly pretty and artistic production.

Ferdinand Theinhardt, a celebrated founder of Berlin, has produced a beautiful combination of 39 characters, for one, two, or three colors, entitled the « Italian » border. He has also brought out a charming series of « Italian » initials with drop-pieces, in two sizes, harmonizing with the border. The initials are open old-style roman, with very beautiful Gothic groundwork. We should much like to have this founder's specimen book, and to receive sheets of his novelties as they appear.