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?
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.
(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.
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).