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Preliminary Reading List

T-60. The History of 19th- & 20th-Century Typography & Printing

John Kristensen & Katherine McCanless Ruffin


Preliminary Advices

We have selected classic texts in the field of typography and printing by authors who share our passion for printing and who, we think, write eloquently. These readings will introduce you to the technological, cultural, and aesthetic aspects of printed letterforms and will serve as important background for lectures and hands-on investigation in Charlottesville. Many of these readings are available in multiple editions. We have intentionally not specified editions so that you will have maximum flexibility in locating these readings. We suggest obtaining books through your local library, inter-library loan, or independent booksellers. AbeBooks is an excellent resource for locating items for sale by independent booksellers.

Required Reading

1. Bringhurst, Robert. The Elements of Typographic Style.
Historical Synopsis
Ch. 1 The Grand Design
Ch. 2 Rhythm and Proportion
Ch. 3 Harmony and Counterpoint
Ch. 7 Historical Interlude
Note: This reading is meant to introduce you to the aesthetics of typography.

2. Chappell, Warren and Robert Bringhurst. A Short History of the Printed Word.
Ch. VIII The Nineteenth Century
Ch. IX The Early Twentieth Century : 1900-1940
Ch. X The Second World War and After: 1940-1970
Ch. XI The Digital Revolution and the Close of the Twentieth Century
Note: If you are not familiar with the history of printing prior to 1900, please skim Ch. I through Ch. XII.

3. Pierpont Morgan Library. Art of the Printed Book, 1455-1955; Masterpieces of Typography Through Five Centuries from the Collections of the Pierpont Morgan Library. With an essay by Joseph Blumenthal.
Note: This reading complements the Chappell and Bringhurst readings. Please pay particular attention to the illustrations.

4. Updike, Daniel Berkeley. Printing Types: Their History, Forms, and Use.
Volume One:
Ch. 1 “The Invention of Printing: The Cutting and Casting of Types in Relation to Their Design”
Ch. 2 “A Font of Type and Its Case: The Typographical Point: Point-Set and Lining Types”
Ch. 3 “The Latin Alphabet and Its Development Up to the Invention of Printing”
Volume Two:
Ch. 24, Part 7 “Conclusion”

5. Warde, Beatrice. “The Crystal Goblet, Or Printing Should Be Invisible” (PDF).

Recommended Reading

6. De Vinne, Theodore Low. The Practice of Typography: A Treatise on the Procesess of Type-Making, The Point System, The Names, Sizes, Styles, and Price of Plain Printing Types. Available online at the Hathi Trust website.
Ch. 1 “The Processes of Type-making”
Ch. 2 “The Names of the Leading Sizes of Types”
Ch. 4 "A Font of Type"

7. Morison, Stanley. A Tally of Types.

Optional Browsing

8. Kelly, Rob Roy. American Wood Type: 1828-1900.

9. McGrew, Mac. American Metal Typefaces of the Twentieth Century.

10. Lawson, Alexander. Anatomy of a Typeface.