A tradition of fine hand-cut memorials exists in the UK. I was once a small part of that heritage, being commissioned to create bespoke headstones and other memorials for clients. Over the last week as part of a effort to simplify my ever growing lettering collection and archives I came across these images of mine, all made in England and pre-dating 2004 which was when we moved to Australia. I would often use both sides of the stone with the client providing a piece of prose or poetry appropriate to the person being memorialised which I’d carve on the reverse. These three examples show this, the first and third in green slate, the middle one in Welsh black:
I also made this piece for the courtyard of a church in Essex, England. It is limestone and slate.
Alas, there is, as far as I can discern, such a tradition in this part of the world. Maybe I should start one…
Also see this post on Percy Smith. Also see my page on sculptural items.
A reader recently identified the typeface I commented upon in this post as being Ashley Crawford, and not Neuland as I had then speculated. Thank you Marvin.
The face was designed by Ashley Havinden, a noted designer of that period and produced by Monotype as Series 238 and 279 (the later for the plain font). Image from Encyclopaedia of Typefaces, Blandford Press, 1953 as in my copy of Specimens of the Type Faces, Borders, Ornaments, Rules and Other Material cast on ‘Monotype’ Type Composing and Casting Machines, The Monotype Corporation, n.d it is not included, although ‘single specimen sheets…may be obtained on application’.
To correct the earlier misinterpretation here is Neuland used in another ad (taken from The Typography of Newspaper Advertisements, Meynell, F, 1929).
Two images leapt out at me today while browsing typography now, the next wave (North Light Books, 1994 pbk edition). The first one of machine-generated stone carving (naturally, being a stone carver); the second a font called Prototype, this because the illustration stated it was an amalgam of other typefaces including Perpetua and Bembo.
At the time I did not note the connection and it was only a few moments ago when reading Brnbrook’s entry in Typography, when who how (Konemann, 1998) that I came to realise he was behind both.
For more go to http://www.virusfonts.com
Making pictures from type goes back a long way – how long I can’t answer and I haven’t done the research but believe me it is a long time.
On the occasion of the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Frances (as she was then) on 29 July 1981 I and a colleague put together this offering – the additional inscription The only safe fast breeder is a Royal (in Times New Roman, letterpress) added when the pregnancy was announced in 1982 (Prince William was born on 21 June 1982) and alludes to concerns over nuclear reactors – 1982 was also the year the UK went to war with Argentina over the Falklands.
Now McDonald’s have caught on.
Though they may show promise – and are clearly done on computer – compare and contrast (as my English teacher at secondary school used to say to us) this 1953 effort by Dennis Collins of Queen Elizabeth II.
It comes from Typewriter Art, 1975, London Magazine Editions (another item to be added to your ever lengthening Christmas wish list). This piece was done on a typewriter and Collins notes: ‘The Queen’s portrait … [was] done on an old portable on which spaces could not be finely adjusted – this accounts for the horizontal white strips across the face…’ (For an earlier post on typewriter art see here.)
Collins (born 1912) was a notable cartoonist who did ‘The Perishers’ comic strip for the Daily Mirror from 1958 to 1983. If you know more about Collins please let me know.
Note – the lettering on the Charles and Diana card was done with Letraset.
It’s always a joy to pick up a book, any book, and find a colophon describing the typeface used in the publication. This most recently happened to me when I bought a copy of Geoff Dyer’s novel Out of Sheer Rage (Canongate Books, 2012). The typeface selected for the edition is Goudy Old Style, designed, it is noted, by ‘Frederic W Goudy, an American type designer, in 1915. It is a graceful, slightly eccentric typeface, and is prized by book designers for its elegance and readability’.
OK. Slightly eccentric took me to my bookshelves to see what others have written about Mr Goudy. What does Updike have to say? He writes of Kennerley, another of the designer’s faces commissioned in 1911 by Mitchell Kennerly: ‘[it] is a freely designed letter which has been much praised in many quarters. Its capitals are excellent but the lower case roman, except perhaps in 10-point, seems to “roll” a little; and, as was said of another of Mr Goudy’s types, “when composed in a body, the curves of the letters – individually graceful – set up a circular, whirling sensation that detracts somewhat from legibility. That is to say, the curves are perhaps too round and soft, and lack a certain snap and acidity”.’ (Printing Types, vol II. 2nd ed, 2nd printing, 1937.)
My Oh My. They were savage critics back in the twentieth century.
What has Carter to add? ‘Goudy died in 1947,’ he concludes, ‘heaped with honours…His faces are not widely used for the setting of books: they do not fulfil the customary demands of reticence for such purposes. But for displayed work and advertising design they have always been deservedly popular’. (Twentieth century Type Designers, 1987.) Carter also notes how Goudy made a new fount, that is cutting the matrices by hand and giving them to Updike the same day – Updike having called for lunch (this was 1933) and complaining he couldn’t find the right size or style for a title page he was then designing. Now that’s what I call a good lunch.
Another writer, BH Newdigate, says of Goudy’s Kennerley face (this written in 1920): ‘…[it] is perhaps the most attractive letter which has been placed within the reach of British and AMerican printers in modern times.’ Times change.
Having noticed recent interest in a post first made in September 2011, I belatedly follow up with another taken during my productive vacation the other month. Regular readers will have noted my comments on Dorrigo (click here if you missed them), but on the way to that township we went through the larger outpost of Bellingen (30.4333° S, 152.9000° E).
It was in this place that I spotted the rather wonderful cast-iron lettering shown here, which adorned, by the looks of it, a late-nineteenth haberdashery shop (the sort of emporium that sold everything to the local population unable to make the trip with any frequency to a city).
Now I have been scouring my books, in particular Bartram’s The English Lettering Tradition from 1700 to the present day (Lund Humphries, 1986) and Nicolete Gray’s Lettering on Buildings (The Architectural Press, 1960) and XIXth Century Ornamented Types and Title Pages (Faber and Faber, 1938) and make the observation that what we have here is what the former describes as ‘decorative’ and the latter as ‘Tuscan style’, though most definitely Victorian in origin. (For more on Gray see here.)
Its origin, she continues, may be traced to fourth century Rome and ‘one of the greatest of letterers, Furius Dionysius Filocalus. The name is undoubtedly a pseudonym and expresses the man’s attitude to his work: conscious, devoted and expressionist’. This example (below) comes from the Catacomb of St Calixtus, Rome and is taken from Lettering on Buildings – a must read for any serious student of typography.
The other images above are taken from Lettering and XXIXth Ornamented (another volume to add to the Christmas wish list).
So, from Bellingen to Rome in one fair sweep.