Who designed Prestige Elite?

Stephen ColesStephen Coles Posts: 779
edited March 2016 in History of Typography
Who designed IBM’s Prestige Elite? Linotype.com and Bitstream say Clayton Smith. Adobe and URW say Howard Kettler. Linotype at MyFonts says both. Unfortunately, all other online sources, including Wikipedia, don’t cite anything beyond than those font sites. Perhaps someone familiar with IBM history has some insight into the creation of this face.

Comments

  • Kent LewKent Lew Posts: 897
    Have you asked Matthew Butterick if he has any additional information or insight? I don’t know if he actually delved into it during the design of Alix or not, but might be worth reaching out.
  • SiDanielsSiDaniels Posts: 273
    Bill Troop might know.
  • SiDanielsSiDaniels Posts: 273
    ...or the people Bill references here... http://www.graphos.org/courier.html
  • Stephen ColesStephen Coles Posts: 779
    edited March 2016
    Thanks Si and Kent. I emailed Bill and Matthew. "Clayton Smith" is a mystery. Every search for his name associated with IBM comes up empty. He only appears in association with the Bitstream and Linotype biographies for Prestige. I’m reminded how the marketing department of a font company sometimes holds the sole power to document (or rewrite) typographic history.
  • George ThomasGeorge Thomas Posts: 519
    edited March 2016
    @Stephen Coles Google "IBM: Clayton Smith". Perhaps one of his survivors can cast some light on the type.

    Clayton Charles Smith

    Obituary
    SMITH, Clayton Charles - Passed away peacefully at the Toronto East General Hospital on Saturday, January 22, 2011 in his 81st year. Beloved husband of Patricia Anne Smith (nee Muir). Dear brother of Doris (Don) Rae of North Bay, Ellen (Paul) Muir of Winnipeg and Charlotte Roberts of Elmwood. Survived by many nieces and nephews; great-nieces and nephews and great-great-nieces. Clayton will be greatly missed by family and his many dear friends. Clayton was employed at IBM for 31 years until retiring. A memorial service will be held in the HUMPHREY FUNERAL HOME - A.W. MILES CHAPEL, 1403 Bayview Avenue (south of Davisville Avenue) on Saturday, February 12, 2011 at 3:30 p.m. Memorial donations to the Alzheimer's Foundation of Canada, the Ontario Humane Society or a charity of your choice would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy.
  • Stephen ColesStephen Coles Posts: 779
    edited March 2016
    Just I saw that too. Could be a lead, though there may be many Clayton Smiths who worked for IBM over the years.
  • I am acquainted with a man named John Schappler, who was a member of IBM's type design department during the development of the Selectric typewriter. He was the designer of the typefaces IBM Script, Adjutant, and Delegate. John had been a student of Father Edward Catich at St. Ambrose College, in Iowa, and had also worked with Ray Da Boll and R. Hunter Middleton. After his time at IBM, he became the head of type development at Itek (the Quadritek typesetter). 

    I was last in touch with John in 2005, when I was editing the book The SP Century: Boston's Society of Printers Through 100 Years of Change. He was then retired and living in Nashua, New Hampshire. Among his many accomplishments as a type designer and letterer, he was the carver of the tombstone of Victor Hammer, who had been his friend and mentor. I don't know if John is still with us (he was born in 1921), but if he is, he would certainly know who was responsible for Prestige Elite. Alan Haley might know something about it, too.

  • María RamosMaría Ramos Posts: 76
    edited March 2016
    "Clayton Smith" is a mystery. Every search for his name associated with IBM comes up empty. He only appears in association with the Bitstream and Linotype biographies for Prestige. I’m reminded how the marketing department of a font company sometimes holds the sole power to document (or rewrite) typographic history.

    In the typewriter issue of Print, the magazine of the graphic arts, volume 7, number 3, (1952) there is some info about a type designer called C.P. Smith. This is the only data I copied from the magazine.

    "C.P. SMITH, No. 2 Type Designer in I.B.M.’s Production Engineering Department at Poughkeepsie. Joined the Company in April, 1945."

    But it seems by then Prestige Elite was not designed yet.



  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 1,774

    I am acquainted with a man named John Schappler .... I don't know if John is still with us (he was born in 1921), but if he is....

    He was at the time of writing in 2016, but passed away at age 95 in 2017. https://farwellfuneralservice.com/john-a-schappler/
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 503
    edited February 3
    Howard Kettler is alleged to have been the designer of Courier. As there are certain stylistic similarities between Courier and Prestige Elite, despite them being very different, one possibility is that both he and Clayton Smith had a hand in its design.
    Wikipedia accepts Clayton Smith, but more usefully, it notes that the typeface was designed in 1953; this predates the 1961 Selectric.
    Here, http://www.graphos.org/courier.html Bud Kettler is credited with Courier - and with Advocate - by people who knew and remembered him from IBM.
    And on Luc Devroye's page, http://luc.devroye.org/fonts-25056.html I see the satement that Prestige Elite "has Clayton Smith's name on it" but some say that Howard Kettler designed it. This implies he knows a bit more about this situation than has turned up in this thread.
    That is, it gives the appearance that the source for Clayton Smith is IBM official records, and the source for Howard Kettler is some people's informal recollections.

  • I don’t think Luc has any more information. He’s simply referring to that fact that some suppliers (like MyFonts) credit Prestige Elite to Clayton Smith. So, sadly, we are still without any official sources.
  • Before the Selectric Composer was the Executive Typewriter, which used four-unit spacing and removable type-bars. The precursor to Prestige Elite was called Patron.

  • The Museum of Printing, in Haverhill, MA, acquired John Schappler’s entire typographic collection—some 11,000 pieces, including his correspondence concerning various aspects of type design. In fact, there was a special exhibition of the material that closed just a few days ago. Anyone interested in John's work would do well to contact the museum’s curator, Kim Pickard, or its board president, the indefatigable Frank Romano. 

  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 503
    edited February 3
    You can have a look at Patron on this page:
    I believe I was correct when I stated on my web page that it had a resemblance to Prestige Elite. That does not mean it was a precursor to Prestige Elite.
    Before the Selectric, IBM manufactured and sold ordinary electric typewriters. In addition, they made and sold the proportional-spacing IBM Executive typewriter, starting from 1944.
    That does not, however, mean that the Patron typestyle for the Executive was introduced before 1953; I do not have any information to that effect, and they continued to make the IBM Executive and introduce new typestyles for it for many years.

    I've just done a bit more digging. The IBM Model C typewriter was introduced in 1959. My source for the unit system for Patron was a manual for the Model C Executive. The IBM Model B typewriter was introduced in 1954, one year after 1953, when Prestige Elite was first offered.
    An internal maintenance manual for the IBM B4 typewriter ( a version of the Model B ) lists several Executive typestyles with their unit systems, but Patron is not in that list, which would seem to indicate that Patron postdates Prestige Elite.
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