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Commentary

“The Manual of Linotype Typography” Is Now Online

Stephen Coles on December 19, 2012

Austin-based designer Vitorio Miliano prefers to give books rather than lend them:

For me, the important parts of a book are inside me, after I’ve read it and taken it in. So, when I give you a book, I don’t want it back. It’s not a loan: it’s a gift; depending on the book, perhaps the gift of a passion, or of knowledge, or of understanding. The best thing that could happen is that you take that book, and you keep it – and me – in your heart.

So he gave 13 books to the Internet Archive, an organization that scans a thousand books a day and puts them online for the world to read.

The Manual of Linotype Typography (cover)

The-Manual-of-Linotype-Typography-pg8

The-Manual-of-Linotype-Typography-pg9

One of the items in Miliano’s donation was the 1923 Manual of Linotype Typography, a unique type specimen that is as much about teaching typographic fundamentals as it is showing typefaces. As Joshua Lurie-Terrell wrote here years ago, the Manual is not your standard type catalog. While most specimens of this era mainly show their fonts through paragraphs of sample text and pages of stacked-and-justified showings, the focus of this book is type in use. Filled with mock examples of typesetting, from title pages and chapter openings to leaflets and advertisements, the Linotype Manual gives a good sense of how the printed world looked in the early 20th century.

The-Manual-of-Linotype-Typography-p33

The Manual of Linotype Typography - The importance of the title page

The Manual of Linotype Typography - Menu in Bodoni

“Critical Comment: The use of thick and thin rules with the Bodoni face dates back to the specimen sheets of Bodoni himself, and, in fact, to the origin of the modern letter. Its appropriateness is obvious, the thick and thin parts of the rules balancing the stems and hair lines of the type…”

You can see all 286 high-resolution pages of the book in the Internet Archive’s online viewer or download a complete PDF. Unfortunately, while the text is readable, the medium-resolution PDF is not a substitute for a printed copy. Whet your appetite with the online version, then cast your net on a bookseller cooperative like AbeBooks where prices range from $45 to $165.

The Art & Practice of Typography (cover)

Read more about Miliano’s donation at his site. It includes another piece of design history that is not as well known as the Linotype Manual, but perhaps just as interesting: The Art & Practice of Typography, Edmund G. Gress (1910). Not only does this book contain instructional illustrations and sample settings, but also some actual published work of the time.

The Art & Practice of Typography - suits and coats ad

3 Comments

  1. Vitorio says:

    Typographers and artists interested in better quality scans can download the original imagery!

    Visit the “More about” link for each work, and there’s an “All files” pair of links. Either choose the torrent if you know how to work Bittorrent, or click on HTTPS and look for the giant “_orig_jp2.tar” file. That’s the original, uncropped, uncorrected photographs taken by the archive’s scanners. (The smaller “_jp2.zip” file is the cropped photos used in the PDF and the online viewer.)

  2. Coolcoolcool. I love the internet archive and these are awesome. Thanks for sharing-the image with the overcoats furnishings and suits is just-sweet.

  3. Nick Shinn says:

    Thanks Vitorio!

    I downloaded the big file, but the resolution isn’t enough for text type. It’s around 400 dpi, not enough to satisfy close inspection with the eye at size-as.

    I had the same criticism of Octavo’s CD of Bodoni’s Manuale.

    This project will have to be redone: the shadow of microfiche hangs over it.

    Ultimately, reproduction technologies will be 3D (nano-pixels on nano-pistons), capable of simulating letterpress and paper texture, and being used for 3D printing of facsimiles.

    How soon the Diamond Age?

    IMO buying the real thing is a hell of deal; compare with the cost of an ATF catalog, which is not such a magnificent artefact. And of course, present day lithography can’t touch it.

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Typographica is a review of typefaces and type books, with occasional commentary on fonts and typographic design. Edited by Stephen Coles and designed by Chris Hamamoto. Founded in 2002 by Joshua Lurie-Terrell. Relaunched in 2009 by Coles and Hamamoto.

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