As a collector of books about typography, nothing pisses me off more than halftone reproductions of type.
I recently paid $100 for a book, purchased online, which turned out to be full of halftone reproductions of 19th century specimens, reduced in size by an unspeciﬁed amount, in which the background of plain paper clocked in at 20%. I haven’t even bothered to read the damn thing, it is so painful to even open. This is not a new issue, Morison’s The Typographic Book (1963) also has halftone reproductions.
Obviously collotype and gravure are a bit expensive, but there is a simple method, for offset lithography, of reproducing printed specimens in a way that is both attractive and meaningful for typophiles: bitmaps.
I will first assume that typophiles are not so much interested in the document as they are in the type. Therefore we do not need to be reminded that the paper has yellowed, has foxing, and won’t easily lie flat—we would like to see the type as ﬁnely detailed, high contrast, black on white.
1. Make your scan or photo greyscale.
2. Move in the sliders at either end of Levels until the paper is 0% and the type 100%. Position the central slider so that the weight of the type appears correct. You now have a high contrast image.
3. Image > Mode > Bitmap. Set to output 2400 pixels/inch, 50% Diffusion dither.
4. Save as TIFF.
5. Now, when you place this file in your page layout document, you may even add a slight tone to the picture box, as a background to suggest the presence of the page, or as a graphic element of your document’s page layout. If you have the luxury of CMYK, make it something like 2/2/5/0 for a soft warm grey.