Never Mind Starling

I was looking at a digital copy of the 1908 Stephenson Blake specimen book in its Canadian edition.

Their Lining Old Style No. 5 looked... rather familiar.


Maybe there are aspects in which it is greatly different from the Times new Roman, but at least it gives the same general impression, even if it is likely derived from Caslon as opposed to Plantin's type.

Comments

  • What a beautiful typeface! It’s interesting to see how the modern-day version of Starlin by Mike Partner looks entirely different, even closer to Times New Roman:

    https://fonts.adobe.com/fonts/starling

  • Hrant H. PapazianHrant H. Papazian Posts: 1,503
    edited March 7
    Definitely read the rebuttal, but frankly it was far less convincing, in fact full of smoke-screens.
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 1,488
    I note that the supposed contractual document has never been seen. The folks at P22, who purchased Lanston from Giampa, say they have seen no trace or evidence of any such thing among the Lanston assets. A number of folks close to Giampa and Parker have told me they thought it was just an elaborate practical joke that perhaps got a bit out of hand.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 1,618
    edited March 7
    The folks at P22, who purchased Lanston from Giampa, say they have seen no trace or evidence of any such thing among the Lanston assets.
    Gerald's operation on Prince Edward Island was flooded out by a tidal surge, and most of the paper archive reported destroyed before Lanston was sold to P22.

    Conveniently or not, depending on your level of skepticism.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 1,618
    Definitely read the rebuttal, but frankly it was far less convincing, in fact full of smoke-screens.
    The stuff in the rebuttal about the stamping of the series numbers in the Lanston brass patterns is impossible to answer, as Mike Parker acknowledged when we spoke after he read Nicholas Barker's piece (before it was published, as I recall). There's no way the Lanston 54 number could have been stamped earlier than the Monotype series 362 number, since the latter is rubbed down and the former is not. Although I have tried to keep an open mind about Burgess claim since I first sat with Mike under the grape trellis at Gerald's Vancouver workplace, and heard about his initial investigations, I do think it entirely possible that the whole thing was a hoax promulgated by Gerald.
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 389
    What a beautiful typeface! It’s interesting to see how the modern-day version of Starlin by Mike Partner looks entirely different, even closer to Times New Roman:

    https://fonts.adobe.com/fonts/starling
    I had remembered seeing somewhere an "original" version of Starling, and then seeing that Mike Palmer's Starling looked an awful lot like Times, so I had been wondering about this, and am grateful for the reference that allows me to see what I had seen and forgotten.
  • edited March 9
    I should really stop typing comments with an iPhone. Or at least slow down and read what it replaced my words with before I post.
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 389
    I see that it was Mike Parker who, at Font Bureau, drew the version of Starling that is on sale, so I don't know how I could have made this mistake.
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 389
    Basically, I'm reluctant to believe anyone was outright dishonest. So on the one hand, I reject the conclusion that Stanley Morison and Victor Lardent connived to steal the work of Starling Burgess.

    But I also assume that there was no practical joke, but instead that there was a Lanston no. 54 that Starling Burgess worked on, and that Mike Parker was honestly mistaken in his claims about Times Roman.

    And so... New Caslon dates from 1905, Lanston 54 dates from 1904. That's what was in the air around then; and Plantin was a Dutch type, and Caslon was based on Dutch types. There you are! That's why they look alike!

    Starling Burgess simply designed another typeface like New Caslon - one that happened to look closer to Times Roman than the other Recut Caslons and New Caslons of that day did. If Times Roman had never existed, perhaps fashions would have eventually led us to use some modernized Caslon in its place. At least, that's the conclusion that comes to my mind naturally, as it avoids the unpleasantness of thinking anyone dishonest. (But that doesn't mean it's the truth, since feellings are no substitute for critical thinking.)
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 1,618
    edited June 1
    I agree, Dyana: I never thought Mike was perpetrating a hoax, and there are aspects of the broader story, about the relations between the UK and US Monotype companies — independent of the Burgess/Times and Tallone stories — that remain compelling. As the years have gone by, though, I've found it increasingly easy to believe that Gerald Giampa might have fabricated the whole thing and drawn Mike into it.
  • Hrant H. PapazianHrant H. Papazian Posts: 1,503
    edited June 2
    I've found it increasingly easy to believe that Gerald Giampa might have fabricated the whole thing and drawn Mike into it.
    Death certainly makes confrontation much easier...
    But easy is dangerous.

    Was Mike so gullible? So prone to become passionate based on third-party claims?
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 389
    edited June 2
    Given Gerald Giampa's hard work and dedication to typeface preservation, although I never had the chance to meet him, I'd wonder about him being the culprit too. And, on the other hand, the idea that Times Roman was a sham all along is hard to believe.

    Since the alleged original of Starling, as it appeared in the article in Printing History, looks a bit less like Times Roman than the commercial font based on it, that's why I thought perhaps there was room for my pet theory of an independent invention inspired by Caslon and/or DeVinne (1902). Some older forms of bold Caslon, and typefaces like New Caslon/American Caslon do look a bit like Times.

    But even the typeface in Printing History looks more like Times Roman than any of those; given that I'm not a type designer, and that the possibility of a hoax isn't excluded, I haven't tried to look carefully at that typeface to see if it contains elements not found in De Vinne or Caslon that must have, if the typeface is real, independently come from Plantin's type - so I don't claim to have that much faith in the pet theory my inclinations lead me to hope is the truth.

    Just now, though, I checked one thing that was easy enough for me to begin to look into. While Daniel Berkeley Updike's Printing Types dates from 1922, Historic Printing Types by De Vinne is from 1886. That, however, seems to just mention Van Dijck and Elzevir, not Plantin. However, there may be other sources from which Plantin's type could have been well known among type designers in 1903; I can check a little more.

    A search in Google Books by date turns up several 19th-century references where Christopher Plantin is named among the great Dutch printers, but none I could find included facsimile reproductions of anything he printed, to make his typeface more accessible than it would be if it could only be seen by examining the rare and ancient original products of his press.

    On AbeBooks, I see I could purchase a copy of Summa Theologiae for around $350 plus shipping, printed by the press of Christopher Plantin (though with my luck, it might be all in italics or something), and given Starling built yachts for racing, it is not beyond imagining that had he an interest in typography, he could thus even owned such an original.
Sign In or Register to comment.