Tag Archives: typeface

Wednesday is time to typecast

Today we are listening to Martin Andrews from Reading University, and Richard Lawrence is also there to guide us through the practical.

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Richard, pensive in the background, Martin holding a stereo.

What can I tell you?

Type metal is an alloy of antimony, tin and lead. This is what the type is made from.

 

However the type punch is made of harder material, usually steel, because it is worked and used to punch an impression on a copper matrix, into which the type metal will be poured.

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There is a clever contraption that was invented in the 1500s to re cast type should you run out of letters.

You open it up and insert the copper matrix. You close it up and pour in the molten typemetal. Hey presto, here’s a letter.

 

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You can see Roberta (left)pouring the molten material in. It takes about a third of a ladle. Mindy, on the right, has opened the mold.

 

What if you want to copy a whole block? You might want to sell your design to others. You can use the dabbing technique. I have a few videos on my Instagram. But it goes along these lines:

  1. Place molten typemetal in a small non-flammable dish
  2. Wait until it is nearly set
  3. dab the wood block in it.

The block should come out intact, and you have a positive from which you can then make many negatives.Hey presto.

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So that’s about a block. What if you want to copy a whole plate? You can set it up in the chase and then take a copy of it with a flong.

Flong – that is a great Scrabble word. A flong is a large sheet composed of several damp pieces of paper, a bit like papier maché. You make an impression of the plate on this flong. After which you pour type metal over it, and you will get a negative from which you can make multiple copies. This saves wear and tear on the original.

You see Martin holding the papier maché flong. The blurry photo is because he was waving it around. Then at the bottom there is the newspaper version with its flong. The cyclinders on the table are the typecast flong used in machine printing (of newspapers).

It is amazing the sorts of things Richard and Martin found just lying out the workshop.

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The bindings of Paris printer Simon de Colines (Simoneum Colinarium)

This is a book blog, but for some time now I have been distracted with title pages, historiated capitals and pagination that form parts of the book.

While researching watermarks, and having a hard time finding paper makers amongst all the photos of watermarks, I had the thought that if I could relate the watermarks to the printers we could find out from where the papers came.

What has become apparent to me is that it was a very small world and everyone knew each other or were related in some fashion. The confusing aspect of printing is that sometimes they latinised their names and sometimes they didn’t. So a printer may have had many variant names.

Simon de Colines, or Simoneum Colinarium was an active Paris printer between 1520 and 1546, one of the first of the Renaissance. He worked exclusively for the University of Paris between 150 and 1546. Colines used elegant roman and italic types and a Greek type, with accents, that were superior to their predecessors. These are now called French old-style, a style that remained popular for over 200 years and revived in the early 20th century. Some of his typefaces have been the basis for many  later typefaces,  such as Garamond.

Let’s first examine bindings of his texts: “Orontii Finei Delphinatis, regii mathematicarvm professoris, de mundi sphaera, siue cosmographia, primave astronomiae parte.” Printed in Paris 1542.
RB 520 F495 (NLA)

This is a half binding but the corners are missing, more than likely a rebind. Leather spine with pastepaper sides, marbled paper endsheets.

“Lucanus,” RB Fitz 148 (NLA) Printed  Paris 1543 is a full calk binding with blind tooling on cover. It has recycled parchment manuscript as pastedown, and as you can see, sewn on 3 supports

and  “E Kaine diatheke” RB CLI 3106 (NLA) Printed Paris 1534 is also a rebind. It’s a reback, meaning that the spine (or back) has been redone. The spine panels are fully gold tooled and there is evidence of gold tooling on the bands. The edges are well gilt and it has double colour sewn endbands.

I am sorry some of these pictures are blurry; I think I need new glasses!

In addition to his work as a printer,  de Colines worked as an editor, publisher, and punchcutter. During his lifetime, he published over 700 separate editions (almost 4% of books published in 16th-century Paris). He used rabbits, satyrs, and philosophers as his pressmark. He married the widow of Henri Etienne, with whom he had worked, training his stepson Robert Estienne (Stephanus as he became known).

As with all printers he had variant names: Simonem Colinaeum,

Maybe now we can look at some title pages and some historiated capitals

I’m trying to see if the same letters were used in different books. De Colines printed in Greek and Latin. In the books I have seen, the large historiated capitals are found mainly in the first few sections. The next sections may contain factotums or much smaller capitals. The first volumes were paid much more attention than later volumes, where there were sometimes no historiated capitals at all. In the Orontii blank spaces were left for the later printing of larger capitals, which never eventuated.

But for this period, this dotted background is very typical.

Many printers also have what known as a printer’s device, a brand or logo. Often it gets passed down to the various people who take on the printing shop. Sometimes  during a printer’s lifetime a printer may have several devices at play.

 Latin motto TEMPUS (Time) HANC ACIEM SOLA RETUNDIT VIRTUS is translated “virtue alone withstands this blade”. Note the forelock on Time–so that one may seize Time by the forelock.

Another device is rabbits with the initial SDC. I have not yet found this one. See below:

Image courtesy POP Provenance Online Project  Woodcut for Simon de Colines device

Till next time

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