What is the earliest instance of a type foundry paying royalties?

I'm curious what the earliest instance of a type foundry paying a designer royalties instead of just paying a one-time fee for ownership of a design? The earliest date I know of was a seemingly strange and unique deal in 1928 for Ludlow Ultra Modern. Where any of the name-brand Barnhart faces done with a royalty deal? Or maybe some Goudy faces?

Also, when the did the practice of paying a one-time fee for ownership die out? Was the shift to digital type? Or maybe internet distribution? Is anyone still buying designs from third parties outright?
«1

Comments

  • Is anyone still buying designs from third parties outright?
    I know that House has made at least one person an offer to buy a face for use with PLINC. I don’t know if they’ve actually acquired any designs, though.
  • Kent LewKent Lew Posts: 572
    edited September 2013
    In Rudolph Ruzicka: Speaking Reminiscently [The Grolier Club, 1986], Ruzicka relates how Griffith arranged to have him paid a small monthly fee, more or less in perpetuity, ostensibly as “typographic consultant,” for which he was quite grateful.

    RR then goes on to explain, “The company didn’t, as a matter of fact, pay me much for my design work, and Linotype, besides, paid no royalties at all. If you designed a typeface for American Type Founders, you got royalties on sales. (That’s where Goudy made his money, you know.) But since I would never get royalties from Linotype, Griffith devised this scheme for my benefit, in lieu of royalties. It was noble of him, wasn’t it?” [p. 117]

    CHG had earlier arranged a similar “retainer” for Dwiggins, for much the same reason. (In this case, though, WAD actually did perform some consultation services over the years.)

    You could follow up with Steve Matteson and see if he knows what Goudy’s business arrangement was with ATF or Lanston Monotype, see if that gets you an earlier date.
  • ITC paid royalties since its beginning. I think Rondthaler talks about how PLINC paid royalties in his book Life With Letters. (I'd look it up but I'm on the road at the moment.) Royalties for digital fonts in the DTP era goes back to the floppy disk days.
  • Eric Gill's arrangement with Monotype was a retainer as well.
  • Matthew ButterickMatthew Butterick Posts: 143
    edited September 2013
    The earliest date I know of was a seemingly strange and unique deal in 1928 for Ludlow Ultra Modern.
    1928, eight months later: earliest instance of a designer writing a type foundry to ask “why haven’t you paid my royalties?”
  • 1928, eight months later: earliest instance of a designer writing a type foundry to ask “why haven’t you paid my royalties?”
    Even better, he immediately went to work for them marketing typefaces. Salary + royalties.
  • PabloImpallariPabloImpallari Posts: 500
    edited September 2013
    Is anyone still buying designs from third parties outright?
    Måns Grebäck.
    He offered $1000 per font (plus he wants to own ALL rights, plus he ask for fonts to be very similar to other well know and popular fonts) to a colleague of mine, who declined the offer.

    But it seems that many people are accepting the deal. How else you can do 125 fonts in such a short period of time? That business model seems to be working for him....
  • Pablo, but is that designing fonts or just making near knock-offs? Design from scratch is much more work.
  • PabloImpallariPabloImpallari Posts: 500
    edited September 2013
    New fonts, but look-alikes in very similar style to the ones that are high on the popularity charts
    Just compare Koziupa/Paul http://www.myfonts.com/fonts/sudtipos/habano-st/ and Måns Grebäck http://www.myfonts.com/fonts/mawns/harbell/ and you will get the idea...

    To be fair, he also does some new styles, and some are nice and fresh, like http://www.myfonts.com/fonts/mawns/xtreem/ I would prefer to see more like this one and less like the other ones....
  • What does Ale say about this?
  • New fonts, but look-alikes in very similar style to the ones that are high on the popularity charts
    Just compare Koziupa/Paul http://www.myfonts.com/fonts/sudtipos/habano-st/ and Måns Grebäck http://www.myfonts.com/fonts/mawns/harbell/ and you will get the idea...
    Sorry Pablo, but I don't see a look-alike here. Similar models yes, but if you are going to call Harbell a look-alike of Habano, then you are going to have to call Adobe Garamond a look-alike of Stempel Garamond or Linotype Garamond or Simoncini Garamond.
  • In the 19th century, before the U.S. signed onto any international copyright conventions, there was a custom in American publishing called "Courtesy of the Trade," in which payments including royalties were given legal standing. It is described in depth in a new book by Robert Spoo, a well-regarded professor of law at the University of Tulsa, called "Without Copyrights: Piracy, Publishing, and the Public Domain" (Oxford, 2013). It doesn't discuss type, but it will give you an idea of what was in the minds of people like Chauncey Griffith, Dwiggins, and Ruzicka. At the end of the day, Ruzicka and Dwiggins may have been better off with Griffiths' arrangement than they would have been otherwise.

    I have a question that Matthew Butterick might be able to answer: What is the history of the concept of "work for hire" prior to the Copyright Act of 1976?

    And, on another matter: I agree with James about Hablano/Harbell. Similar, but by no means a rip-off.
  • PabloImpallariPabloImpallari Posts: 500
    edited September 2013
    Sorry Pablo, but I don't see a look-alike here. Similar models yes, but if you are going to call Harbell a look-alike of Habano, then you are going to have to call Adobe Garamond a look-alike of Stempel Garamond or Linotype Garamond or Simoncini Garamond.
    James, It's different... According to what my colleague told me, he "specifically" ask for the fonts to be similar. The fact that the fonts are look-alikes but not an exact clone, and fall into the grey area, may be exactly the desired effect.
  • I remembered that the Goudy's Type Designs book had some interesting business tidbits. Here are some relevant notes from a quick skim:

    Goudy was paid $10 outright for his first design in 1896 by Dickinson (it was just caps & basic).

    The ATF paid $100 for pabst italic in 1903, which he says was "an unheard-of figure" at the time.

    Goudy quoted Barnhart $500 for a new design in 1906 (he says he asked only $15 the first time he submitted a design to BB&S, also jokes that he thinks his quote killed A E Barnhart, who died a week later)

    Royalty-wise, Goudy mentions that he kept ownership of the Kennerly faces (1911, 1918, 1924), and that Monotype just had exclusive reproduction rights. There are no specific details about payment structure, but he complains about them signing side deals that he didn't get paid for.
  • Pablo, I can only respond to what I see.
  • I think the pendulum may be swinging back towards one-time fees. Adobe recently had a ove to buy out royalties for the typefaces they distribute. Google is paying bounties to make fonts open source.
  • Five hundred dollars in 1906 would be worth approximately $12000 in 2013; the $100 Goudy received in 1903 for Pabst Italic would be worth about $2400 today. Historical currency conversions are tricky, but there are some reliable benchmarks. The average American laborer was paid $0.22 per hour in 1906; an accountant's yearly salary that year was about $2000 and a first-rate engineer might earn as much as $5000.

    I don't know what Google is paying people for fonts, but I have a feeling that Goudy, who was selling only artwork, was doing far better a hundred years ago than many font designers are today. The balance of supply and demand was certainly far more advantageous for old Fred than it is for most current type designers. During the years under discussion, there were over six hundred piano manufacturers in the U.S. and an astonishing 1800 car makers. It wasn't always the best that survived, though it may be some comfort to know that the one and only(!) surviving U.S. piano maker is Steinway, which was as highly regarded at the beginning of the 20th century as it is today.

    I'm sure typemaking will follow a similar path. The Goudy brand still has value, whereas the fatcats of his era, who tried to squeeze him for a few dollars, are known only to a handful of type dweebs like us.
  • My wife still loves her 1929 Steinway L. (and she plays the hell out of it)
  • ScottMartin Kosofsky wrote…
    the one and only(!) surviving U.S. piano maker is Steinway, which was as highly regarded at the beginning of the 20th century as it is today.
    That's not quite true in terms of being the "only surviving U.S. piano maker." Mason & Hamlin, founded in 1854, still exists today, making their pianos in Massachusetts. My piano reference materials to compare for others from that time period are unavailable, right now. But, yes, there were lots of piano makers who've since merged or disappeared; there are few, today, comparatively.
  • > I don't know what Google is paying people for fonts,

    Goudy would have been fine with what Google is paying, based on those figures.
  • Paul van der LaanPaul van der Laan Posts: 171
    edited October 2013
    Goudy would be happy with the modern day equivalent of $1500? Since we can’t ask the person in question whether that’s true, the assumption is invalid.
  • Goudy didn't have to do a lot of the finishing and production work on his early ATF fonts.
  • Jackson CavanaughJackson Cavanaugh Posts: 526
    edited October 2013
    Fortunately Goudy occasionally wrote about money, so we don't have to completely make shit like this up. In 1905, so an young-but-not-green Goudy, asked BB&S for $500 to for a new design. I checked a few inflation calculators that put this at about $12,500.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,091
    There’s not much comparison between then and now, the technology and markets have changed so much.

    In 1905, top illustrator Charles Dana Gibson was making $75,000 a year. That was way more than sporstmen, and there were no movie stars (it was the year of the nickelodeon). Records had been a mass consumer product for a half dozen years, but even after the 1909 copyright act, performers in the US would not generally receive royalties on record sales until Bing Crosby spearheaded the practice 25 years later.
  • For a slightly more contemporary comparison, Lettering Inc., was paying mostly anonymous lettering men around $1,500 per design in 1965. That's just over $11,000 in 2013 dollars.

  • > In 1905, top illustrator Charles Dana Gibson was making $75,000 a year. ... there were no movie stars

    I expect that his contemporaries - Peter Jackson? - today make similar dollar adjusted amounts.

    > Goudy didn't have to do a lot of the finishing and production work on his early ATF fonts.

    Neither do the GF designers; iKern, ttfautohint, etc

    > Lettering Inc., was paying mostly anonymous lettering men around $1,500 per design in 1965. That's just over $11,000 in 2013 dollars.

    Single style, 250 glyphs?
  • What's your source for Lettering Inc royalty payments? As I understand it, all designs were completed in-house by employees only . . .
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,091
    Peer comparison for assessing remuneration is only ostensibly about fairness. Really it’s a power game. Corporate CEOs are masters of it, as are unions. They aways adjust up to the mean of their choice, never down. Any good capitalist must appreciate that the right price is whatever the fuck the market will bear, or the client is prepared to pay, however ludicrously high or low it may appear to some. As George Monbiot recently noted, “If wealth was the inevitable result of hard work and enterprise, every woman in Africa would be a millionaire.”
  • Stuart, that number comes from the papers you sent me last winter. It wasn't for royalties, but a design fee.

    Presumably, that was for significantly fewer than 250 characters. But Stuart would have a better answer for exactly what the character sets were in those designs.
Sign In or Register to comment.