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Castellar, John Peters and ‘Fine Print’

03/10/2011

Of those display faces I once owned, Castellar (not a great name – always sounds like a cheap cigar to me) rates among them. The face was designed by John Peters, whose short biography I came across in an edition of Fine Print (16, 1, spring 1990).

Those who do not know of this ‘magazine’ (not the word to use for such an illustrious publication, subtitled ‘The Review for the Arts of the Book’) then now is the time to search out back copies. I only have a few, bought from a shop in Charing Cross Road, London, which also sold handmade paper and all the sundries one needed for bookbinding, calligraphy and other human arts. The publication came from San Francisco and largely set letterpress.

Anyhow, back to Peters.

The article in Fine Print is written by John Dreyfus (himself a wonderful man and for some time at CUP) and describes Peters as “unmistakably an officer and a gentleman, with dark hair and a beautifully laid out moustache”. It ends by noting that Peters took his life because of pain associated with a wound picked up in WW2. Dreyfus writes: “For such a creative person to be driven to a self-destructive end was a great tragedy,” which I think an under-statement of magnitude.

What I did not know was that Peters also designed a number of other faces for Monotype, sadly not used, including the one shown here, Traveller, commissioned by  the British Transport Commission.

He was also a printer, establishing The Vine Press in 1956 with Peter Foster. He suicided at 72.

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