Bradbury Thompson, Alphabet 26, 1950 – permissions for book

A picture researcher asked where they could license an image of Bradbury Thompson’s Alphabet 26, 1950. I’ve suggested Yale University archives initially since their press published The Art of Graphic Design, 1988. (ISBN 978-0300043013).

Does anyone know where to license images of Alphabet 26, or has a copy of the book to check the license information?

Comments

  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,626
    As the proposal was first published in Westvaco Inspirations for Printers, they could find the appropriate issue, scan that, and credit the publisher.
  • Alphabet 26 appears in two weights in Photo-Lettering's One Line Manual of Styles, and in the Alphabet Thesaurus Vol. 2. Contact House Industries if interested.
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 705
    Wikipedia Commons expresses doubt about the eligibility of the image for copyright, but they may be in error.

  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,626
    Jeremey Tankard is a contemporary type designer who has shown a particular interest in unicase design. Disturbance and the Shire types, for instance. I’ve done one myself (Panoptica/Parity). And Craig Eliason, Ambicase.

    Thompson was not the first to attempt to distill the roman alphabet back to monocamerality; Cassandre addressed the issue in 1937 with Peignot. I suspect that his client (M. Peignot lui-même) insisted on filling both type cases. Only the lower case is “monocameral”, the upper being normal roman capitals. 

    The Amsterdam Type Foundry published S.H. De Roos’ Libra and Simplex (serif and sans of the same shapes) in 1938/9, on the uncial model. Those were “Unicase with Small Unicase”, if such a thing is possible, unlike Peignot.

    I was teaching a course in type design at York University (Toronto) c.2000, and tasked my students with the unicase challenge. I was astonished with their research and results—not stipulating the constraint of lining, their use of ascenders and descenders produced a fascinating variety of alphabetic forms.
  • edited January 23
    Wikipedia Commons expresses doubt about the eligibility of the image for copyright, but they may be in error.


    (not a lawyer) In the United States at least, typeface designs can't be copyrighted (check out Luc Devroye's index of links to articles about typefaces and copyright: http://luc.devroye.org/legal-index.html). And the simple arrangement alphabet isn't copyrightable, so, without a sufficiently original text or arranged image of a copyrightable kind, this scan is of something in the public domain. (Don't take it from me, though, I'm not a lawyer.) So you should not have to license that image, in the US, at least. Of course other jurisdictions have their own laws.
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 705
    Since the image in question has some of the letters in a different color, that ought to be enough to make it an artwork fully subject to copyright protection, I would have thought...
  • What if one uses different colors? Is the image still protected then?
  • edited January 26
    Since the image in question has some of the letters in a different color, that ought to be enough to make it an artwork fully subject to copyright protection, I would have thought...

    Considering the various examples which are known to not meet the threshold of originality (see Wikimedia Commons), I would say no. Apparently, there was a case, Boisson v. Banian, which dealt with exactly this issue (coloration of letters): https://cyber.harvard.edu/people/tfisher/IP/2001 Boisson Abridged.pdf; see also it cited in the refusal of copyright for the Subway logo: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b1/Subway_logo_US_Copyright_Office_decision.pdf (denying the claim that the Subway logo was copyrightable because of the coloration of the letters).
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