Posts Tagged ‘typography’

Type foundry digitally preserves vintage stationer’s lettering styles

December 21, 2011

[Guest editor: Tamye Riggs]

The Sweet collection is composed of typefaces based on the engraver’s lettering styles that came into fashion at the beginning of the twentieth century. The collection is anchored by Sweet Sans, Mark van Bronkhorst’s interpretation of the engraver’s sans serif (kin to the drafting alphabets popularized in the early 1900s).

A type designer based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Van Bronkhorst had long been a fan of these historic faces, many of which had all but disappeared from use. A few cuts of the engraver’s sans style existed in digital form, including Sacker’s Gothic (Monotype Imaging) and Engraver’s Gothic (Bitstream), but these interpretations were somewhat limited in their scope.

Van Bronkhorst sought to study the original forms in depth. As a graphic designer, he had worked with an engraving house in the past, and was aware that stationers and engravers used “masterplates” as lettering patterns, tracing letterforms with a pantograph device to manually transfer the forms to what would become the printing plate. He began hunting for masterplates, but found that most had been destroyed as engraving shops converted to digital typography. The majority of these shops had abandoned the tedious masterplate-tracing process in favor of more expedient photographic processes where “pretty much any digital font would do,” Van Bronkhorst says. He decided it would be a good idea to preserve the masterplate lettering styles—some good, some bad, some ugly—as they seemed otherwise destined to disappear unless interpreted as digital fonts.

After doing some digging, Van Bronkhorst discovered a stash of antique masterplates. With Linnea Lundquist, he commenced work on the first typeface in the Sweet range—Sweet Upright Script—likely the first digital version of this vintage social engraving design.

Van Bronkhorst then turned his attention to the engraver’s sans. Sweet Sans hearkens back to the same or similar masterplates as Sacker’s Gothic. Upon close inspection, various masterplates of what would seem the same letterforms varied considerably. The process of interpreting the design was one of selecting various forms and characteristics while leaving others out. The engraver’s sans was typically a cap-to-small-cap combination, yet a lowercase model did exist. Van Bronkhorst decided that Sweet’s interpretation would be broad, including lowercase and small caps, and in weights from Hairline to Heavy, with true italics. The result is a nine-weight sans family that pays homage to the charm and dignity of its model.

Encouraged by the positive response to the first releases, Van Bronkhorst is expanding the Sweet Sans family with a slightly modernized version, and plans to continue to gradually introduce more vintage stationer’s lettering styles in digital form. His goal is to carefully build a collection that accurately represents the genre while offering type users a variety of styles to suit their needs.

The Sweet collection of fonts is available at http://mvbfonts.com.

Save the Date: Thursday June 16 @ TDC in NYC

May 16, 2011

Nancy will explain why the organic nature of steel die and copper plate engraved imagery and text complements and enhances our visual experiences, and will demonstrate the importance of engraving as a modern graphic design technique. She will show examples from several avid collectors of elegant and unique engraved imagery, and share her expertise on engraving techniques and methodology. She will also describe the recent installation of a working engraving proofing press and the establishment of a new and growing engraving community in the great American city beneath the sea (New Orleans).

Nancy Sharon Collins is especially well-known for her exemplary bespoke hand-engraved social stationery. Besides being a stationer, she is a veteran graphic designer, typographer, independent print history scholar, partner in Collins, LLC, director of special projects for the AIGA New Orleans chapter, and instructor of design at Southeastern Louisiana University. Her book about American commercial engraving is due out in the autumn of 2012.

For details and to make a reservation.

“Allied Oil” courtesy of Strathmore archives, Mohawk Fine Paper, Cohoes, NY; Monogram © Richard Sheaff; “D” monogram engraved by Emily DeLorge.

Is Engraving Important to Design Education?

October 10, 2010

Saturday, October 16 at 2:00 pm
Session IV, Panel 3

The American Printing History Association 35th Annual Conference
Corcoran College of Art + Design
Corcoran Gallery of Art, 500 Seventeenth St. NW
Washington, DC

(This presentation was first given in Dublin at the 2010 ATypeI Conference.)

Although rarely studied in today’s classroom, commercial engraving for print is a vital element in the teaching of graphic design and media studies at the college and university level. This notion, which will be explored in the proposed presentation, is based on more than a decade of independent study of steel die and copper plate engraving, the recent installation of a working engraving proofing press within the Loyola University of New Orleans graphic design department and the establishment of a new and growing engraving community in New Orleans. This is the first new and only robust commercial print engraving community in North America.

The legacy through which we have studied, and viewed, graphic design, typography and the book arts primarily has been through the lens of the letterpress form. For over 500 years, almost all of our print communication was fashioned within this framework and according to a specific, or implied grid (grid being the series of units aligning both vertically and horizontally in an intentional, recognizable pattern). In the western world, almost every description of commercial visual communication is presented in this format; books, newspapers, periodicals, even the orientation and navigation of websites depend on a grid for their structure.

Engraving, on the other hand, is a fluid, free-hand expression restricted only by the perimeter of the surface upon which an engraving is worked. The exquisite beauty and gracefulness of arcs and shading inherent in the engraved line is unparalleled and had become, until very recently, an unfortunately moribund craft.

This twenty minute presentation addresses ways in which the organic nature of steel die and copper plate engraved imagery and text complement and enhance visual experience, why and how engraving is a central part of any modern graphic design curriculum, and dynamic ways that it can be introduced in the classroom. By providing examples of elegant and unique engraved imagery, we can inspire the next generation of visual thinkers to keep this important art form alive.

© 2010 Nancy Sharon Collins

Love Letters: American Commercial Engraving, Monograms and Social Stationery

September 18, 2009

UTAustin_Facebook_Image

Please join me at University of Texas at Austin for the most recent rendition of this evolving presentation about American commercial engraving.

Tuesday September 22

6:00pm–7:30pm

Art Building, Room ART 1.120

This lecture will include images from recent research and sources of commercial engraving and specifications for engraving types never before shown in public or discussed.

http://aigaaustin.org/events/2009/09/detail/414/

So Noted: In Search of Monograms

August 28, 2009

Nancy Sharon Collins, A/K/A the engraving lady, is seeking submissions of engraved social stationery, read about it in the Mohawk paper website.

4monograms

read more about it.

The Story Continues: M. M. Keltons’s Son. Engraving Proofing Presses

June 28, 2009

 

Previously posted on this blog has been the story of the engraving proofing presses. Since that time they were completely dismantled, steam-cleaned and the individual parts and fittings sand blasted. The parts were immediately “oiled” with silicone to prevent rusting in the extreme, south Louisiana humidity, the frame and screw handle with inertia-weight—that looks like a dumbell with a big steel ball on each end—were coated with a primer then painted. It was so humid the primer wouldn’t dry so we had to leave them up in Alexandria, LA, until dry.
My husband brought them home yesterday and—with our 2-ton shop crane, dolly, ramps and brute force—into the cool, humidity controlled studio where he is polishing the brass fittings.
Daniela Marx, head of graphic design at Loyola University New Orleans, was here yesterday for an AIGA New Orleans board meeting and I treated her to a sneak peak at some of the spiffed-up parts (like the massive steel screw that attaches to the handle).
According to “Engraved Stationery Handbook”, Robert N.Steffens published by The Cronite Co., Inc., New York City, 1950, “This type of press was developed years ago” and “is rarely used any longer. It was designed to stamp the 1/2” thick engraving dies we use creating social stationery.
Note the name and how similar it is to Kelsey and Kelton, both manufactures I have seen for small letterpress presses.
The Cronite book is the only reference I have yet found to this type of press, if anyone knows more about them, please share.

Previously posted on this blog has been the story of the engraving proofing presses.

Presses

Since that time they were completely dismantled, steam-cleaned and the individual parts and fittings sand blasted. The parts were immediately “oiled” with silicone to prevent rusting in the extreme, south Louisiana humidity, the frame and screw handle with inertia-weight—that looks like a dumbell with a big steel ball on each end—were coated with a primer then painted. It was so humid the primer wouldn’t dry so we had to leave them up in Alexandria, LA, until dry.

My husband brought them home yesterday and—with our 2-ton shop crane, dolly, ramps and brute force—into the cool, humidity controlled studio where he is polishing the brass fittings.

Daniela Marx, head of graphic design at Loyola University New Orleans, was here yesterday for an AIGA New Orleans board meeting and I treated her to a sneak peak at some of the spiffed-up parts (like the massive steel screw that attaches to the handle).

According to “Engraved Stationery Handbook”, Robert N.Steffens published by The Cronite Co., Inc., New York City, 1950, “This type of press was developed years ago” and “is rarely used any longer. It was designed to stamp the 1/2” thick engraving dies we use creating social stationery.

Note the name and how similar it is to Kelsey and Kelton, both manufactures I have seen for small letterpress presses.

The Cronite book is the only reference I have yet found to this type of press, if anyone knows more about them, please share.

PressParts

http://typophile.com/node/59459

History of Romantic Letters at TypeCon 2009

June 26, 2009

The History of Romantic Letters at TypeCon 2009

THURSDAY, JULY 16
2:00 pm-5:30 pm

Presented by Nancy Sharon Collins (Collins LLC/Loyola University/AIGA New Orleans)

Location: Portfolio Center, Atlanta
Cost: $50 + $10 materials fee
Ever wonder about engraving? What is it? Where does it come from? Why does it look that way? What’s a monogram? How does engraving factor into the history and function of type?

The only way to truly appreciate engraving is to try it yourself—come experience the “cut” by which engraved letterforms are made—everyone in this workshop will be encouraged to try their hand with a “graver” (or “burin”), the real tools of this elegant, virtually forgotten trade.

Specimens of vintage monograms, lettering styles and engraving will be displayed. Using simple tools such as graphite pencil and various sorts of erasers, attendees will trace, combine, retrace existing forms and learn to make new symbols, letters and forms with these historic pieces of inspiration.

http://www.typecon.com/calendar.php?category=Workshops

Readable Text, New Orleans Style at TypeCon 2009

June 26, 2009

http://www.typecon.com/calendar.php

SUNDAY, JULY 19

12:00 noon, Type in 20

TypeCon 2009, Atlanta

Nancy Sharon Collins talks about FLOOD BOOK and notions of readable text. Audrey Bennett and Ellen Lupton are cited.

nancysharoncollins_FLOODBOOK

In 2005 Audrey Bennett spoke on this topic at Typecon in Boston, she and I have exchanged emails about this, infrequently, ever since.  I was interested in her talk because I was then teaching graphic design and typography at a university literally down the bayou in south Louisiana where illiteracy rates soar.  Recently at an AIGA leadership retreat in  Portland, OR, I ran into Audrey who I had not seen since Boston.  I was very excited to show her a book I designed and was amazed to discover that she had just purchased a copy.

FLOOD BOOK, * as it is named, is a post-Katrina rant—or repetitive chant—with rhyming verse written in Yat which is a local, New Orleanian dialect. Its a little book, the size of a short novella, with compelling illustrations and simple, classical type.  I wanted Audrey to see it because it became a sell out as a tool for teaching reading to those with severe literacy challenges.   Why had she picked-up the book and what was it that inspired her to buy it?  In this presentation I will talk about the typographic and design choices in the FLOOD BOOK project, the coincidence with Audrey and how Dr. Caroline Musselwhite, assistive technology specialist working in the areas of AAC and literacy, found the book useful in her workshops.

* FLOOD BOOK will be on sale at the SOTA book store.

SHAME ON YOU. Are there really No Sustainable Printers in New Orleans?

March 7, 2009

In a town now being cited for many new green initiatives I must wag my finger at my adopted home, I just did an online look to see who of our local printers advertises sustainable practices and I found none.

Not one of these local printers advertises sustainable practices on the home page of their website:

Garrity Printing Inc., http://www.garrityprinting.com/
MPress, http://www.mpressnow.com/
H & H Printing Service, http://www.hhprint.com/
Pel Hughes, http://www.pelhughes.com/
Harvey-Hauser Printing Company, http://www.hauserprinting.com/
Davis & Sapi Printing, http://www.davisprintingcompany.net/
Wendel Printing, http://www.wendelprinting.com/web/content/homePage.aspx
Mele Printing, http://www.meleprinting.com/

In North America, New Orleans boasts the first press established outside of the original colonies back when this country was being formed. While waiting for his press and types to arrive from France, Denis Braud engraved plates himself. A resident since at least 1762, Braud printed letters of exchange for the treasury.* Also, the debate has never been conclusively resolved about just where the first type foundry “to operate in a Southern state”, Virginia or New Orleans.**

Can this legacy of great type and print innovation be made right?

Come on boys and girls of the letter and word, get on the stick. Otherwise, conscientious typographers and designers such as myself will have to source printing from sustainable printers in Alabama!

* Florence M. Jumonville, Bibliography of New Orleans Imprints 1764-1864
** Maurice Annenberg, Type Foundries of America and their Catalogs

New Exhibit of Engraved Letters, Glyphs, Monograms and Symbols

March 5, 2009

History in Small Places, mini-exhibit of pigment prints by Nancy Sharon Collins from February to March 28 at the Hill Memorial Library, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Hill Memorial Library

LSU Library

History in Small Places

History in Small Places