Looking for information on early-twentieth-century letterpress book face

Dear TypeDrawers community,

I very much hope this query is sufficiently nuanced and scholarly not to count as a typical “type ID” request.

I am trying to track down some information about a typeface used in an out-of-print volume, because I may be designing a new edition of the book and would like to consider matching the typography of the original.

Given that the book was printed in America (probably New York) in 1941, the text face is likely an American Monotype face. The roman looks like some sort of generic Garamond, but the italic is much more upright and regular than the italics of most Garamonds. I haven’t been able to find a specimen of the face, or a good digital match for it. (Mark van Bronkhorst’s ATF Garamond is the best digital match I have found, and it is a beautifully rendered face with the appropriate early-twentieth-century inky letterpress feel, but the italic is much more decorative than the italic used in the book.)

So my questions are: (1) Can anyone identify this text face? (2) Can anyone suggest a good digital match for it? And (3), just for fun, can anyone identify the slightly quirky display face used for the book title and chapter versals?

Many thanks,

Josh







Comments

  • A good digital substitute for this typeface is Adobe Garamond
  • Jan PietkiewiczJan Pietkiewicz Posts: 10
    edited October 1
    For what it's worth, the display face is Piranesi from the ATF catalog (specimen available here).
    I might be making a complete fool out of myself, but the body text does not appear to be any of the "obvious" Garamonds/Jannons of this period (ATF, Ludlow, LTC, Linotype No. 3). That /R, /f (roman and italic) and italic /ff gave me a pause.
    Edit: It's Linotype Estienne.
  • Well done, Jan Pietkiewicz!
  • Joshua LangmanJoshua Langman Posts: 11
    edited October 1
    Wow, Jan! Thank you so much! That was fast.

    I wasn't expecting it to be a Linotype face. My understanding has been that Linotype was mostly used for newspapers and periodicals, whereas books were more likely to be set in Monotype. But I guess not in this case. Thanks for the ID of the display face, as well.

    So, it looks like this is the "G.W. Jones" who designed the face. Was it unusual to be using a British Linotype face in the U.S.? (I know that British and American Monotype technology was incompatible, but maybe that was not the case with Linotype?)

    Nathan: thank you. I've already auditioned about eight or ten digital Garamonds, and none of them is what I would consider a close match. Adobe Garamond does have a similar sense of restraint, but the actual lettershapes are different, particularly in the italic. It may not be necessary to match it exactly, but I would at least like to explore that option before discarding it.
  • The italic is the most different due to the constraints of overhangs in metal type
  • Was it unusual to be using a British Linotype face in the U.S.?

    George William Jones was British, but his Estienne typeface was available from the Mergenthaler Linotype company in Brooklyn.

  • The italic is the most different due to the constraints of overhangs in metal type
    So the "metal type" technology had restrictions preventing exceeding horizontal boundaries from 0 to advance width. How many font technologies do not allow exceeding horizontal boundaries? I know that the fon format (the Microsoft bitmap font format) does not allow exceeding horizontal boundaries because bitmap data is only stored inside the horizontal and vertical boundaries. What else?
  • I'm glad I was able to help. It took me on a very interesting journey!
    I've already auditioned about eight or ten digital Garamonds, and none of them is what I would consider a close match. Adobe Garamond does have a similar sense of restraint, but the actual lettershapes are different, particularly in the italic. It may not be necessary to match it exactly, but I would at least like to explore that option before discarding it.
    I'm afraid you'd be hard-pressed to find an actual close match for this particular typeface and all its quirks. That ATF Garamond digitization might very well be your best bet for capturing the spirit of the original book's look, even if it deviates from Estienne's particular letterforms. Another appropriate choice in this sense would be Jim Rimmer's revival of Goudy's LTC Garamont, if only its soi-disant text size did not look so anemic.
  • I had forgotten about Linotype Estienne, which was released in 1930. I'm not a fan of high x-heights, but Estienne's x-height is very, very low. In order to avoid the “crochet-hook” f, a characteristic of metal Linotype designs, in which overhanging letters (“kerns”—the original definition) were not possible, Estienne was made available with an unusual number of ligatures and diglyphs, which had to be inserted by hand into the matrix line. I have a specimen of it somewhere, but I can’t find it at the moment. I’ll post it if it turns up. There is a 2004 monograph on Jones, George W. Jones: Printer Laureate, by L.W. Wallis.

    You might consider Sabon as a substitute—or perhaps my favorite of all digital Garalde types, Mark van Bronkhorst’s Verdigris, which has an italic based on Guyot. It’s a highly readable type at a good range text sizes.

  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 623
    edited October 2
    I wasn't expecting it to be a Linotype face. My understanding has been that Linotype was mostly used for newspapers and periodicals, whereas books were more likely to be set in Monotype. But I guess not in this case. Thanks for the ID of the display face, as well.

    It is possible that this is the practice in the United Kingdom.
    In the United States, however, it depends on the kind of book.
    Companies that publish science or engineering textbooks, for example, will likely use Monotype because it is more suited to setting mathematical formulas. However, while Linotype can't set four-line mathematics, it can manage two-line mathematics.
    Linotype went to some lengths to convince customers that Linotype machines weren't inflexible and good only for the simplest types of copy, as is illustrated by the book The Manual of Linotype Typography:
    And, of course, if a company is only publishing popular novels, on the other hand, there's no reason why they wouldn't use Linotype, and that was percieved as faster and more economical.
    Another thing to consider is that the use of Ludlow equipment was quite popular in the United States, and that provided a way to handle a small amount of matter in a book that required more flexibility than the Linotype could provide.

    By the way: the Linotype Big Red is now available for download instead of just borrowing on the Internet Archive, as I found out when searching for this book:
    Here's Linotype Estienne from that book
    The first link to a sample of Estienne was a link to the Internet Archive - and it is a page from a book only available to be borrowed due to its copyright status; I'm surprised the link works, since my computer doesn't have a cookie on it saying that I'm the borrower of that book.
  • Joshua LangmanJoshua Langman Posts: 11
    edited October 2
    Wow, so much here to respond to. Thanks to all.

    Scott-Martin, Sabon feels a bit too large (x-height-wise) and a bit too "clean," but I have considered Verdigris. Verdigris is a very intriguing face that I feel like I haven't quite gotten the hang of yet as a typographer, but I've been experimenting with it a bit. And I may have to get that George W. Jones monograph. It makes sense that Jones was also the designer of Granjon, because the two faces feel alike. And digital Granjon might possibly work for this project.

    John, thanks for all the information. I am American, but most of my knowledge about hot metal comes from the realm of British Monotype, because I studied briefly at the Bixler Foundry in New York, and they are exclusively British Monotype. I know much less about Linotype in general. Those specimen books are treasures! The comprehensive Estienne showings are an excellent find.

    Jan, as you say, Bronkhorst's "ATF" Garamond may be the closest spiritual match here. See below. I cannot overstate the visceral, almost tactile beauty of this face — you can almost smell the old book paper and letterpress ink — but my one hesitation is that the italic is a little less easy to read in extended passages than the original face. This is one reason that I had also been considering DTL Van den Keere for this project, but as established in a thread here a little while ago, the text cuts are not yet ready for licensing.

    This is some of the same text shown in the photos above, reset in digital ATF Garamond, for comparison:



  • And here, for contrast, is digital Granjon. In some respects it is a better match for the Estienne, but it is also very, very light. This is just whatever version of Granjon I happen to have (Granjon LT STD, probably from Adobe), and maybe there are better digitizations available.



  • edited October 2

    By the way: the Linotype Big Red is now available for download instead of just borrowing on the Internet Archive, as I found out when searching for this book:
    Interesting.

    I assume that Linotype offered different typefaces in Europe. AFAIK they had a recut optimised for Linotype of the famous Breitkopf-Fraktur 1750 early in the 20th century. This was digitised 1992 and misses overhangs as well as the line casting version.
  • Dan ReynoldsDan Reynolds Posts: 136
    I assume that Linotype offered different typefaces in Europe.
    Indeed, this is the case. I’m not sure how many total Linotype companies operated in Europe, but for its entire run, the Mergenthaler Linotype company based out of Berlin and Frankfurt had an independent matrix catalog from the main American entity. Most of the matrices that German Linotype sold were manufactured at D. Stempel AG in Frankfurt, but in its early days, the company may have had other suppliers, or might have produced some matrices ‘in-house’ at their Berlin factory.
  • Hi everyone,

    A follow-up question related to this same project. Here are some photos of a booklet published circa 1950 with a text face I would like to identify. My first thought is, "Goudy Old Style, obviously!" But it seems a tad quirkier than the Goudy Old Style I know, especially in the capitals and the jauntiness of some of the lowercase characters. Maybe a different but related Goudy face? It's not quirky enough to be Kennerley, right? As always, thanks for any assistance.

    Josh



  • Just in time for the Great Depression of 1929, Intertype released this knock-off of Goudy’s Kennerley, which they called Kenntonian. You can see a 1930 specimen here: https://archive.org/details/IntertypeFaces249to264Kenntonian/mode/2up.

    Typical of many Intertype designs, the spacing is poor, especially in the roman, where a number of the glyphs have been distorted ad hoc to fit the system (compare m, h, and n—ugh!), without regard to the other glyphs.

  • Joshua LangmanJoshua Langman Posts: 11
    edited October 15
    Wow, thank you, Scott-Martin!

    What would I do without TypeDrawers?

    If the project that I am researching this for ever comes to fruition, I will be pleased to list everyone who helped in the acknowledgments.
Sign In or Register to comment.