This has faded from the NPR site, so here it is for posterity. From NPR: Talk of the Nation, July 3, 2003:
LYNN NEARY, host: When most Americans think of the paper version of the Declaration of Independence, they think of the document kept by the National Archives written in calligraphy and signed by the Founding Fathers. It’s faded and fragile, and for some people not as symbolic of democratic principles as other lesser known works. Here to talk about that is Thomas Starr. He’s a professor of graphic design at Northeastern University. We reached him at his home in Boston.
Thanks for being with us, Professor Starr.
Professor THOMAS STARR (Northeastern University): Thank you, Lynn.
NEARY: All right. Now, Professor Starr, most Americans are familiar with the calligraphy version of the Declaration of Independence, but tell us about the documents that predate it.
Prof. STARR: Well, we really have to start on July 2nd. That was the day that Congress voted in favor of independence, after which it took up editing the Declaration text. That editing took some time. It took two days, and it was quite heavy. Congress deleted about one-third of it and made 39 changes in addition. So on July 4th, when that manuscript was finished, in its form it was taken not to a calligrapher but to a typographer. And that typographer was John Dunlop. He was Congress’ official printer. And I would say he had the most important overnight printing job in history. He set the text in type, so he assembled it for the first time in its complete form, and ran his presses overnight, delivering to Congress on the 5th. So these were then delivered to the 13 colonies, where they were republished and disseminated further. These were the prints that the colonists saw. So the published Dunlop prints are really what did the declaring. And when you think of July Fourth, I mean, it’s a holiday in which the date is emphasized more than any other. And so what it actually celebrates is this day of typesetting and printing.
NEARY: When did the calligraphy document then come along?
Prof. STARR: Well, the calligraphy didn’t actually get ordered by Congress until July 19th. And what’s interesting is by then we know that the Dunlop Declarations had spread so far that they had been republished in 24 newspapers from Maryland to New Hampshire. And, you know, in 1776 Congress still traditionally formed its most important documents in calligraphy. It was a tradition left over from monarchy. But it had to use typography to communicate with the people. Typography really is the medium of democracy. So the calligraphic version now in the National Archives was finished only on August 2nd, so it really can’t be the version we’re commemorating when we think of the Fourth. And the type, for many reasons, is a more democratic version of the Declaration.
From Reuters via CNN:
20 fined for using letters W and Q
Tuesday, October 25, 2005; Posted: 8:05 a.m. EDT (12:05 GMT)
“DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Reuters) — A Turkish court has fined 20 people for using the letters Q and W on placards at a Kurdish new year celebration, under a law that bans use of characters not in the Turkish alphabet, rights campaigners said.
The court in the southeastern city of Siirt fined each of the 20 people 100 new lira ($75.53) for holding up the placards, written in Kurdish, at the event last year. The letters Q and W do not exist in the Turkish alphabet.
Under pressure from the European Union, Turkey has improved language and human rights for its Kurdish minority, but the EU says implementation has been patchy and loopholes remain.
The 1928 Law on the Adoption and Application of Turkish Letters changed the Turkish alphabet from the Arabic script to a modified Latin script and required all signs, advertising, newspapers and official documents to only use Turkish letters.”
Somehow the suppression of letterforms (and language) still has not washed away the Kurdish culture or the push for autonomy. And, what about those letters E and U?
More on the switch of writing systems later.
“How did these two typefaces [Neuland and Lithos] come to signify Africans and African-Americans, regardless of how a designer uses them, and regardless of the purpose for which their creators originally intended them? The investigation of this question has four parts: first, an examination of the environments in which Koch and Twombly created the original typefaces; second, an examination of the graphic culture that surrounded African-Americans prior to the creation of Neuland through a close viewing of tobacco ephemera; third, an examination of the Art Deco (French Modern) style, the graphic culture most prevalent in the United States at the time of Neuland’s release; and finally, an examination of the ways designers use Neuland and Lithos today.”
“Euskara - which means Basque in the Basque language - refers to all kinds of characters you can find in the Basque country. Indeed each of the seven French and Spanish Basque provinces has its own geographic and cultural characteristics. For instance, those who live on the seaside - itsasoan - differ from those who live in the mountain - itsasmendi. These differences can also be felt from one valley to the other.”
Modern Basque nationalism emerged at the end of the 19th century, marked by the formation of the Basque Nationalist Party in 1895. Part of the political and cultural program of the Party was a revival of a unified Basque language. And related to this was the celebration of a distinct Basque typography.
In 1888, Louis Colas, a schoolteacher from Baiona, begin his travels across the Basque countryside on muleback on documenting ancient Basque monuments. Colas published his research in a large, heavy volume which cost him a fortune. It initially attracted few readers.
The volume, though:
“is a genuine encyclopedia with more than 500 rough sketches and about 30 photos, tracing monuments and works since lost or destroyed. Unfortunately today, too few originals - some of them in a poor state - can be consulted as unquestioned references to the matter.” [source]
The Basques inherited their method of representing the sounds of language by literal symbols from the Romans.
“At that time, the Basque engravers knew very little about the Roman ironworks technique; their rough tools couldn’t carve deep characters like in the sculptures coming from Rome. So, instead of carving deeply, they scraped the stone around the characters which thus stuck out, creating a new technique. This explains why the Basque letters can hardly resist the passing of time: five-century-old engravings have been rubbed out, for the most part.
Moreover, very few people — such as old families of engravers — could write as well as engrave: such a treasure was to be kept secret. This explains the variety in the Basque characters. Not only did the children inherit the technique from their parents, but they also inherited the family mistakes: sometimes in a village, you may find the same misprints on the old houses fronts. The most powerful family in a valley also caught hold of all the written works. Still today, there are shapes in the carved stone which can be found only in some valleys; and it is the same for the ‘pelote Basque’, the rules of which varied according to the valleys which were the (mass) media of the time!” [source]
Later influence of the continental Celts was felt in particular on capital letters A, S, and N, and in the rare lowercase letters b, p, q, and o.
Despite this influence and other printing fashions, the Roman influence predominates. There is hardly any Basque written work using cursive script. This results in part from the link between Latin and Christianity: almost all early written works in Basque were religious in content.
The Basque nationalist movement was banned and forced underground in 1923 by the Spanish military dictatorship of Miquel Primo de Reviera, but flourished after proclamation of the Second Republic in 1931 and the lifting of the ban.
Despite military uprisings that divided the Basques, following a large scale campaign for Basque autonomy and a plebiscite in 1932, the Government of the Republic granted autonomy to the Guipuzcoa and Vizcaya regions. The first Aberri Eguna was held on Easter Sunday, March 25, 1932 celebrating the Basque homeland, culture and language, and Catholicism.
In the 1930’s printers and foundries lavished much attention on Mr. Colas’s book which encouraged Euskara’s revival.
“Euskara consists of large-footed, big-eyed, Roman-styled characters. (See Some Different Basque Letters). You should not use them for a whole text because it would give a sensation of thickness: they were used on mortuary epitaphs and fronts of houses, mostly. The general pattern is rather heavy but the ten existing lowercases makes it look lighter: it seems funny that hardly any lowercase can be found in Euskara, although typically Basque letters can be found (for example, the interpenetrated DE).”
Today Euskara can be found throughout the Basque country on signage, television, newspapers, and packaging.
“Among the various Euskara characters used in offset printing, the LetraSet transfer-types are very well spread, whereas only Spanish printers have still got lead characters. Neuhaus in Hendaye is a worth-mentioning firm: their local roadsigns, printed in Basque characters, help promote tourism. Lately, a young editor from Biarritz has tried to use the Basque culture characters [for computer printing].”
But given its current status as a kind of cultural brand for consumption by tourists and others external to the Basque community, does it still retain a nationalist connotation to the community itself? Or has it become depoliticized, commodified, and folkloric?
Thierry Arsaut designed the fonts displayed above.
From Paul Shaw, “Fascism on the Facade,” in Print, May/June 2004:
“Tourists may be unaware that Fascist architecture — fountains, monuments, public works, buildings — pervades Rome. Non-Italian guidebooks deliberately ignore these structures, and their modernism makes them seem boringly familiar — even at the most ponderous and grandiose — to anyone visiting from another large city. However, there is one thing above all else that separates Fascist architecture from modern architecture: the conspicuous presence of lettering.
Lettering, inscribed and in relief, had always been an integral part of Western architecture until the Modernists, in their drive for purity and functionality, threw it out along with ornaments, and other decorative motifs. In Italy, lettering survived and flourished in Fascist architecture because it served to advertise the regime’s aims and accomplishments.
While the Nazis settled the centuries-old fraktur oder antiqua (blackletter versus roman) debate in favor of the former, the Fascists never had an official policy regarding letterforms. ‘The idea of an “art of the State” was rejected not only by Mussolini and his minister Giuseppe Bottai, but also by all the official representatives of the regime,’ wrote Rossana Bossaglia in Ritratto di un’Idea (2002). Instead, beginning in 1926, the regime spoke of Fascist art as work that interpreted and represented the spirit of the Fascist movement. But no precise style was defined until the late 1930s. Often overlooked and mistaken for lettering of other periods, the visual language of the Fascists still permeates many of Rome’s most historic buildings.”
Host Country Bribes
Stadium Built with Slave Labor
Drowing in Advertising
One of the best, and funniest, critiques of the Olympics I’ve seen this season is in the form of a font. The font is a collection of ‘real’ pictograms, lampooning the icons used by Olympics organizers to indicate sporting events without language.
Designed by Jonathan Barnbook and Marcus McCallion, the pictograms follow the style of the hugely influential sign system developed by Otl Aicher for the 1972 Munich Olympics.
View the complete font or download a copy here.
Via a comment at Design Observer
I don’t ascribe much significance to the names of typefaces. The style names are not what determine the meanings of letterforms.
But this was just so rich. From The New York Times’ note on last fall’s typographic overhaul:
“The [New York] Times’s text typeface, for news and editorials, remains Imperial, designed in the 1950’s by Edwin W. Shaar and adopted by the newspaper in 1967.”
The shape of the News, the shapes of Truth are inscribed in Empire.
“But virtually everything I complain about in type (even the stuff I take action on) is essentially trivial in the context of the needs of the world. Except for one thing: increasingly I become more worried about Latinization — the imposition of Latin alphabetic ideals on other scripts. It’s really nothing short of cultural imperialism, even cultural genocide. To me Latinization is a henchman of globalization, and anybody who feels that cultural variety is a central pillar of life being worth living needs to fight it.”
Being a historical account of women in printing, publishing, and typographical compositing in these United States of America and Western Europe.
The text below is assembled from Unseen Hands, Women Printers, Binders & Book Designers (Princeton University Library, 2003), Women in Printing & Publishing in California, 1850-1940 (California Historical Society, 1998), and Epochal History of the International Typographical Union (I.T.U., 1925.) Other sources are indicated where used.
“Women have been involved in printing and the making of books ever since these crafts were first developed. Even before the advent of movable type, there was a strong tradition of women producing manuscripts in western European religious houses. In the Convent of San Jacopo di Ripoli in Florence, we find the first documented evidence, in 1476, of women working as printers. Girls and women were often trained by their fathers or husbands to assist in printing businesses, and there are many instances from the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries of women taking over and managing these enterprises upon the early demise of their male relatives.... Many, certainly, only managed the business, while others were more directly involved. Estellina, wife of the printer Abraham Conant, proudly stated in a Hebrew book, Behinat `olam (Mantua, ca. 1477) that ‘she, together with one man, did the typesetting.’ [source]
In the 19th century, a limited number of occupations were open to women — teaching, needlework, domestic service, etc. Male-only unions ruled the printing business. Women, where employed at all, were relegated to certain low-paying jobs considered best suited for the weaker sex, such as dressing (polishing imperfections) from metal type, folding printed sheets, and sewing bindings. Yet there were exceptions — a few women were also employed in typesetting. Women who were widows or daughters of printers often learned typesetting out of necessity.
James Franklin, brother of Benjamin Franklin, taught something of the art to his two daughters prior to his death in 1835, and when he died he left his printing plan at Newport, R.I. to his widow and family. They operated it successfully for many years.
A woman’s typographical union was formed in France with a journal entitled La Compositrice, and the first major woman’s journal edited by a woman, Godey’s Lady’s Book, was published in Philadelphia from 1830-1858, edited by Sarah Josepha Buell Hale. [source]
Women were employed in the Day Book office in New York in 1853, while a strike was in progress against that office. This inspired a determined campaign against women printers. Union leaders inveighed against employment of women and urged the National Typographical Union to do something about it. The National wisely disclaimed any desire to interfere in treatment of the issue by local unions. Horace Greely, celebrated editor of the New York Tribune and a former president of Typographical Union No. 6 of New York, took up his redoubtable pen....
‘Your fears that women will supplant you, or seriously reduce your wages, Messrs. Compositors, are neither wise nor manly. The girls who marry and have families to look after will stop setting type — never doubt that — unless they are so luckless as to get drunken, loafing, good-for-nothing husbands, who will do nothing to keep the pot boiling, and then they must work, and you ought not to be mean enough to stop them, or drive them back to making shirts or binding shoes at three or four shillings a day.
If you find yourselves troubled with too strong a competition from female workers just prove yourselves worthy to be their husbands; marry them, provide good homes and earn the means of living comfortably, and we’ll warrant them never to annoy you thereafter by insisting on spending their days at the printing office setting type. But waxing theologic and pious, you tell us of the sphere of action God designed women to occupy —of her ‘purity’ and of the ‘immorality and vice’ she must inevitably sink into, should she be admitted into the composing room to set type beside you. We feel the force of these suggestions — we admit the badness of the company into which unregulated typesetting would sometimes thro her — but did it ever occur to you that this is her lookout rather than yours? It is perfectly fair of you to apprise her beforehand of the moral atmosphere to which promiscuous typesetting would expose her, but when you virtually say she shan’t set type because if she did your society and conversation would corrupt her you carry the joke a little too far.’
By 1864, due in large part to the depletion of the male work force during the Civil War, additional workers were needed in trades which were previously thought of as ‘male’ trades — one of these being typesetting. The number of newspapers and the demand for printed materials was on the increase, and women began to step into jobs in both the printing and publishing fields.
The National Typographical Union permitted women to form unions and to join existing unions in 1869, the same year it was renamed the International Typographical Union. Augusta Lewis Troup, journalist and typesetter for Susan B. Anthony’s newspaper The Revolution, was elected corresponding secretary of the International Typographical Union in 1870. She became the first woman to hold any national union office. [source]
After hearing of the role of women in the 15th century printing industry, Emily Faithful decided to set up her own firm in Edinburgh in 1857 employing women only. In 1859 she founded the Victoria Press in London and employed men to do the heavy work. This met with a lot of hostility with the print unions which said that it encouraged immorality. In 1862 she earned the title of Printer and Publisher in Ordinary to the Queen, moved to an office in Farringdon Street and then to Praed Street, Paddington, where she remained until 1881. She was also a writer and poet and was involved in some of the publications produced by her firm such as the feminist English Woman’s Journal and the Victoria Magazine. [source] While her journal was established as a general literary magazine it provided a strong feminist emphasis on suffrage, married women’s property, education, employment and all of the other feminist/women’s concerns of the day. [source]
During the late 19th century, women writers often moved into positions as editors of newspapers or small journals. At this same time, the Woman’s Suffrage Movement was gaining momentum and the women-edited journals were the obvious choices in which to further their cause. Spiritualism was also a popular movement at the turn of the century among women — largely because it did not discriminate by gender or ethnic background — and the women publishers felt a kinship because of this non-discriminatory nature. Journals such as The Carrier Dove, The Spiritualist, and The Golden Dawn were all journals edited by women and devoted to not only Spiritualism but in some cases, also to the Suffrage Movement.
Other women publishers and editors followed a more literary angle, publishing journals which featured articles on a wider variety of topics. In 1863, Lisle Lester took charge of the Pacific Monthly, a woman’s literary magazine previously known as the Hesperian. It had a rocky career as was the career of Ms. Lester — who was widely known for her strong opinions on many topics and her tussles with the male typographical unions. Another woman, Emily Pitts Stevens, gained prominence when she transformed the Sunday Evening Mercury — which was known as ‘a Journal of Romance and Literature’ — into the premier voice for woman’s suffrage in the West. She hired women to set type for her newspaper and in 1869 changed its name to The Pioneer — as ‘a name that more nearly covers our thought and tells the nature of our object and ambition.’ She became a major force in the founding of the California Woman Suffrage Association on January 28, 1870.
In San Francisco, which was becoming a center for printing and publishing in the West, women-run printing offices appeared in the 1870s and 1880s. The Women’s Union Job Printing Co., the Woman’s Publishing Company, Amanda B. Slocum and Jennie Patrick were a few either woman-run and/or -staffed printing offices of this period. The most prominent and prolific was The Women’s Co-Operative Printing Union, established in 1868 on Clay Street by Mrs. Agnes Peterson, followed in 1873 by Mrs. Lizzie G. Richmond. Early 1870 billheads produced by the WCPU proudly proclaimed, ‘Women set type! Women run presses!’ So confident was Lizzie Richmond that her billheads and advertisements often stated, ’We invite criticism.’ These printing offices produced a variety of printed materials for the public — books, commercial catalogs, corporate annual reports, legal briefs, [as well as] invitations, broadside advertisements, and handbills.
The many journals, newspapers, books, and even billheads that were printed during the late 19th and early 20th centuries used mainly one method of illustration — that of the wood engraving.... Leila S. Curtis and Eleanor P. Gibbons were two women who started up and ran successful engraving businesses in San Francisco. Both were trained in engraving and design. Their designs were found on billheads, business cards, and stationery, as well as in book illustrations, commercial catalogs, and innumerable other small printed items. Magazines published during this period often used the technique of the woodcut — rather than a wood engraving — to illustrate their pages. The technique used in producing a woodcut allowed for larger more fluid compositions. Lucia Mathews cut the designs for Philopolis (1906-1919) — a magazine published by Arthur, her husband, and herself during the early part of the 20th century. Florence Lundborg, an artist influenced by both Art Nouveau and the Arts and Crafts movement of the early part of this century, produced woodcut images for The Lark, the San Francisco literary magazine published by Bruce Porter and Gelett Burgess from 1895-1897. [source]
The turn of the century saw an increased interest in the aesthetic aspects of printing — now that women were an accepted part of the work force — and many fine presses sprang up throughout the state [of California]. A fine or ‘private press’ is generally understood to be a small printing house which issues for public sale limited editions of books which have been carefully made on the premises.
By the 1920s a tradition of fine printing was well under way in San Francisco, with Taylor and Taylor, John Henry Nash and the Grabhorns already fairly well established. These printing houses encouraged printing by women.... Other women with their own presses were Rosalind Keep of the Eucalyptus Press, Helen Gentry, and Jane Grabhorn at Colt Press, which was founded along with William Matson Roth and Jane Swinerton. In southern California, private presses were often a husband and wife team. The Saunders Studio Press of Claremont was founded in 1927 by Lynne and Ruth Thompson Saunders. The Plantin Press in Los Angeles was established in 1931 by Saul and Lillian Marks, Saul being in charge of design and layout and Lillian responsible for composition. Women such as Virginia Woolf and Elizabeth Yeats also founded private presses that produced handsome limited editions of the work of contemporary authors and artists. [source]
Women were notably successful at bookbinding, both ‘on the line’ — producing factory bindings — and in the creation of splendid examples of hand binding, particularly during the Arts and Crafts Revival of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
With the dawn of the 20th century and the emergence of women’s rights, women in printing and publishing entered more seamlessly into the work force. Finally, with the advent of fine press printing, the women printers in the 1920s and 1930s emerge as figures who achieved their goals to work at a skilled occupation that offered them not only an honest living but also a chance to use their creative instincts and skills.”