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27 August 2013

From our bookshelf: a printer’s ‘Bible’

Jack Ponting, Write’s client services co-ordinator, has loaned me a wonderful book on printing. You may remember he wrote a terrific blog recently about his days as a typesetter.

Read Jack’s blog

‘ Wonderful’ and ‘printing’ may seem an odd pairing to you. But I love typefaces and the art of picking the right one for the right use — strictly from an amateur’s perspective.

When he won the title of top linotype apprentice in 1973, Jack was given a reference book from the 1920s. He brought it in for us to look at. It has the snappy title The Composing Room. Book & Jobbing Composition. Machine Composition by John Southward. (Publisher and publishing date not known.)

If you love fonts and printing, you’ll glory in this book. Everything’s covered, from The Structural Requirements of the Printing Office (‘…Work of good quality is required to be produced with great expedition and at a low cost.’), to beautiful posters and business cards. With fonts in Hebrew, Greek, and for printing sheet music, to boot.

You won’t find this book in any modern library, though it’s probably sitting in a stackroom somewhere. But a good substitute may be Just My Type: a book about Fonts by Simon Garfield (New York: Gotham Books, 2011). Find out about the shocking life of Eric Gill (creator of Gill Sans, Write’s house font), and the role of a font in a presidential campaign. That book’s on our bookshelf as well.

Take a look at Just My Type on Amazon

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