University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The Silver Buckle Press Collection

Page View

American Type Founders Company / Specimen book and catalogue, 1923 : dedicated to the typographic art

Nelson, R.W.
Preface,   pp. 5-16

Page 6

Sr -          __           - -~
1796               AMERICAN TYPE FOUNDERS COMPANY                 1923
tions. Thus the American Type Founders Company's work has had and will continue
to have a greater beneficial influence on the fortunes of the printing industry than
that of any other industry catering to the necessities of the progressive printer.
In 1897 the American Type Founders Company established a type designing depart-
ment. This was an innovation, strange as it may seem. From the time display types
began to be made, until 1897, typefounders had depended for new type faces upon
the casual suggestions of artists and
others, and few typefounders had
any plan or policy other than to put
forth"something new." The result
was a chaos of type faces, many of
them good in themselves,but quite
unrelated to each other, making
good display impossible. With in-
ferior type faces printing fell into
disrepute as an art and influence.
The new department was created
with the definite purpose of assum-
ing leadership in type design. It was
predicated upon an entirely new
sales idea-a realization that the printer's clients were the ultimate critics and ultimate
users of type faces. To popularize type faces was to popularize the use of printing-to
increase the demand for printing. The wiser printers now see that in selling their
product they must think in terms of results to their customers, and not merely in terms
of a "job,"combining so much time, types, inks and paper. The printer's clients were con-
fused by thousands of unrelated type faces, of haphazard origin, with which no printing
could be produced that would impress them as having any special influence upon the
readers of advertisements that was not common to any kind of readable type face.
As a prelude to the new era in typography, in which types talk at command with
varying emphasis and orchestralpower, the AmericanType Founders Company scrapped
hundreds of time-honored but utterly inadequate type series which were clogging the
wheels of typographic progress. Compare this Specimen Book of 1923 with the much
praised Specimen Book of 1895 and note how few of the types of 1895 survive. The very
names are forgotten of display types once thought to be as essential to the equipment
of a composing room as were spaces and quads.Who remembers the Clarendons, Egyp-
tians and Celtics? The surviving names of the 1895 period are the Antiques and the
Gothics. We say"names," because the Gothic and Antique types of 1923 are almost all
ofthem re-designed and improved. None of the users of types demanded the scrapping
of the designs current in 1895-the loss was assumed voluntarily in a spirit of enlight-
ened selfishness. Printing was helped greatly-this type foundry also.

Go up to Top of Page