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Grolier Club Exhibitions

Brave New World



Sebastian Carter (b. 1941). London: Trefoil, 1987. Quarto.

The twentieth century was a remarkably fruitful era for type design. Artists such as Frederic W. Goudy, Adrian Frutiger, and Hermann Zapf each designed dozens, if not more than a hundred, fonts, joining the pantheon of great type designers from the past. There were others, such as Bruce Rogers and Jan Tschichold, who only designed a small handful of typefaces, and just one major type each (Centaur in the case of Rogers and Sabon for Tschichold), but whose isolated single effort reached classic status almost instantly.

The mini-biographies in this book, informed, succinct and well-illustrated, provide an excellent introduction to the work of seventeen of the finest twentieth century practitioners in the field.

LENDER: Sebastian Carter

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David Pankow, editor. New York: American Printing History Association, 1998. Octavo.

Not all types are common commercial products. Some of the finest type designs ever made were produced for proprietary use by a single press or designer. Several of these, such as William Morris’ Golden type, Emery Walker’s and T.J. Cobden-Sanderson’s Doves font, and Bruce Rogers’ Centaur, are shown elsewhere in this exhibition. The latter is included among the approximately two dozen type designs discussed in American Proprietary Typefaces.

On display is one of 120 special copies containing inserts printed from rare metal American proprietary types.

PROVENANCE: David Pankow


John Randle. Risbury: The Whittington Press, 1990. Folio.

Offset lithography and photocomposition overtook letterpress and metal typesetting at a rapid pace through the 1960s and 70s. The type and type-producing equipment used by printers and typefounders over the course of many decades became obsolete practically overnight, with much of this precision, once-precious machinery dumped as scrap metal. It was left to various small presses and hobby printers to rescue what they could. Today, one of the largest collections of Monotype matrices is at the Whittington Press in the Cotswolds, a couple of hours outside of London.

LENDER: The Grolier Club



Peter Karow (b. 1940). Hamburg: URW Verlag, 1987. Octavo.

Peter Karow invented the concept of outline fonts, digitized using the Ikarus system based on bezier curves. Outline fonts allow for a great deal of modification from one master, so they can be adjusted on the fly for low-resolution computer monitors, sloped, thickened, or otherwise manipulated. Also, outline fonts do not require large amounts of computer memory. Today nearly all type is created using the principles presented here, more than thirty years ago.

Almost perversely, on the cover of the book is shown a free, rough-textured calligraphic piece on deckle-edged paper by the calligrapher and type designer Jovica Veljovič. The letterforms created by the calligrapher’s pen, as reproduced here, are about as far away as you can get from computer-aided digital character generation.

LENDER: Jerry Kelly



Alexander Lawson (1913–2002). Boston: David R. Godine, Publisher, 1990. Octavo.

Unfortunately, the title of this otherwise excellent volume is misleading. To start with, it is not about “a” typeface; the book contains chapters on 29 different types, dating from around 1910 to 1960, and it discusses many more along the way, as well as more fonts contained in a couple of general chapters on blackletter fonts, script and decorative typefaces, and type making. Also, it is not the “anatomy” of the types which Lawson writes about; instead, there are encapsulated histories of the type designs under consideration.

PROVENANCE: David R. Godine



Robert Bringhurst (b. 1946). Vancouver: Hartley & Marks, 1992. Octavo.

The Chicago Manual of Style, supplemented by Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style, has long been the standard regarding editorial style in America. But as far as typography goes, there was no such universally accepted guide, until Robert Bringhurst, a Canadian poet, book designer, translator, and typographer, published The Elements of Typographic Style over a quarter of a century ago. The book filled a gaping void, and was an instant success, vaulting Bringhurst to the top of the heap when it comes to writers attempting to clarify and rationalize the field of typography. The type designer Jonathan Hoefler has called it “the finest book ever written about typography.”

PROVENANCE: From the library of the author, Robert Bringhurst


Erik Spiekermann (b. 1947), E.M. Ginger. Mountain View [sic]: Adobe Press, 1993. Octavo.

Unlike just about every other book in this show, Stop Stealing Sheep is aimed at the amateur typesetter and beginning students of graphic design. Of course, with the advent of “desktop publishing,” today just about everyone is a typesetter.

Spiekemann is an internationally-known graphic designer, with a few type designs to his credit. E.M. Ginger is a writer and editor who has been involved with many typographic publications.

The title of the book refers to something said by the American type designer Frederic W. Goudy when he was shown letterspaced lowercase gothic letters (“Anyone who would letterspace blackletter would steal sheep.”). The point is: do not do this, it is wrong!

LENDER: Jerry Kelly



John Dreyfus (1918–2002). Boston: David R. Godine, Publisher, 1994. Octavo.

John Dreyfus succeeded Stanley Morison as typographic advisor to both the Cambridge University Press and British Monotype Corporation. Indeed, his first published article was a survey of Stanley Morison’s work as a typographer (1947). He would go on to collaborate with, and write about, Bert Clarke, Saul Marks, Hermann Zapf, Giovanni Mardersteig, and most of the other major typographers of his time. He was also a founding member of the Association Typographique International (ATypI), an organization established to secure copyright protection for typeface designs (ATypI has been, alas, unsuccessful in attaining that goal).

PROVENANCE: David R. Godine



Alan Marshall (b. 1949), editor. Lyons: Musée de l’imprimerie et de la banque, 1995. Octavo.

Much of the technology Gutenberg developed for replicating texts remained unchanged for almost 500 years. But things were bound to change. Phototype, whereby letters were generated photographically, became practical for large-scale commercial use around mid-century.

The first patent for photocomposition dates back to 1896, but that patent did not result in a commercially viable product. Advances were made throughout the twentieth century, but it was only with the Lumitype machine of 1944 that a text composition device became accepted to any extent by industry. Within a few decades digital type would completely eclipse phototype composition.

LENDER: Jerry Kelly



Hendrik D. L. Vervliet (1923–2020). Leiden: Brill, 2008, two volumes. Quarto.

The style is known as renaissance roman arguably reached its apogee with the great French punchcutters of the sixteenth century; notably Claude Garamond, Robert Granjon, and Simon de Colines. This book, a collection of thirteen essays by Hendrik D.L. Vervliet, a librarian at the University of Antwerp and professor at the University of Amsterdam, provides correct attribution and documentation for 144 roman, 67 italic, 1 gothic, 38 Greek, 14 Hebrew, 8 Arabic, Cyrillic, and Syriac, and 15 music types produced from 1478 to 1621 by superlative French punchcutters.

LENDER: The Grolier Club



Steven Heller (b. 1950), Louise Fili (b. 1951). San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1999. Quarto.

From Gutenberg until the nineteenth century the overwhelming majority of type was made for text setting. But in the mid-1800s the new field of advertising evolved. This led to the development of whole new categories of typefaces, such as sans serif, clarendon, egyptian, shaded type, decorated type, etc.

Typology reproduces examples of advertising display types in use through a period of a century and a half, from poster types of Victorian England to grunge digital fonts of the 1990s. This is one of dozens of compilations assembled by Steven Heller, the foremost authority on modern graphic design, and his wife Louise Fili, a renowned, award-winning designer.

PROVENANCE: From the authors to Jerry Kelly



Adrian Frutiger (1928–2015). Edited by Heidrun Osterer & Philipp Stamm. Basel: Birkhäuser, 2009. Folio.

“The creation of type in the latter half of the twentieth century was considerably influenced by the Swiss type designer Adrian Frutiger. His typefaces are amongst the most successful of contemporary classics.” This opening paragraph from the front jacket flap of this hefty volume comprehensively sums up Frutiger’s contributions to typography.

Frutiger was born in Switzerland, but spent most of his working life in France, where his first typeface, Président, was produced by the Deberny & Peignot type foundry in 1954 (though the beginnings of this design date back to 1952). It was the sans serif type family Univers which became the first huge success for Frutiger.

LENDER: The Grolier Club



Mark Argetsinger. Boston: David R. Godine, Publisher, 2020. Folio.

Though published less than a year ago, Argetsinger’s magnum opus is destined to become a classic in the field. Argetsinger is an expert on the subject of typography, well suited to tackle the enormous task of an overall review of the art, from its beginnings through to today’s digital permutations. 

One of the most valuable segments of this book is the illustrated timeline of mechanized typesetting, up to digital character generation and desktop publishing, which includes discussion of font formats, type manufacturing companies, etc. 

Aside from detailed discussion of important typographic issues, A Grammar of Typography dares to delve deep into editorial matters. 

PROVENANCE: David R. Godine