Merry Xmas, Happy Holidays, &cetera

“Xmas” has been used in English for centuries. The X is an abbreviation for Christ, from the first letter of Greek Christos. First appearing in English in the Anglo Saxon Chronicle in the early twelfth century, it was spelled with Xp or Xr, corresponding to the Greek...

Chop Suey typefaces

“Ethnic” typefaces do have a place in graphic design, though you’re well advised to avoid them, unless your client insists. After all, who would give the carry-out box in the illustration a second thought if Moishe had used the typeface Shalom? Even so, sensitivity is...

Bifur: A.M. Cassandre’s great Art Deco typeface

We picked up a copy of Continental Type’s 1930 type specimen book, a lovely two-color catalog of metal type exclusively  available from foundries in England, France, Spain, Germany, Holland and Italy. It features the great poster artist, Adolphe Mouron Cassande’s...

Ed Benguiat (October 1927– October 2020)

Ed Benguiat may be best known to the general public for his eponymous typeface, but he designed many typefaces. While working for Photo-Lettering, Inc (known as PLINC), and for ITC (International Typeface Corporation) Benguiat designed Barcelona, Bookman, Caslon No....

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...