Benjamin Franklin’s waggish defense of John Baskerville’s type

In 1760, the American printer, Benjamin Franklin wrote to John Baskerville and paid him a visit. Baskerville’s reputation, and even his eponymous typeface, had been maligned by “gentlemen” who may have been jealous of Baskerville’s talent, nonconformism, and...

Lasting ephemera: Samuel Johnson’s “The Rambler”

  The Rambler was a twopenny* sheet issued twice weekly in London between 1750 and 1752, each issue was a single anonymous essay. 208 periodical essays appeared, all but four written by Samuel Johnson. Dr. Johnson’s incentive in contributing Rambler essays was to...

Ampersands, &c.

The ampersand has been with us perhaps since the first century CE in one form or another. It’s a conjoining of the e and t, forming the Latin et, which means “and.” You can still make out both letters in even the most abstract designs since typographers know that the...

American Type Founders Specimen Book…

American Type Founders was born of a merger of 23 type foundries in 1892. In the early 1920s, American Type Founders had come to dominate the huge metal foundry type market in the United States. They budgeted a whopping $300,000 (millions in today’s dollars) to...

Georgia: old style text figures

Old style figures blend invisibly into text. Old style text figures (or lower case, non-lining numerals) have become popular in graphic design in recent years. Typesetters use old style figures mainly in book publishing and magazines because they are lower case and...

Italic ampersands liven up logos

Bulmer MT Regular with a Goudy Oldstyle Italic ampersand The italic versions of ampersands are typically less restrained than their roman counterparts. As Robert Bringhurst wrote, “Since the ampersand is more often used in display work than in ordinary text…there is...