Schriftguss AG vorm. Brüder Butter

The Brüder Butter / Schriftguss AG type foundry in Dresden, Germany was one of the most interesting and multifaceted ones in Europe in the 1920s — yet almost no one has ever heard of them.

Schriftguss AG 2186

The Dresden site of the Butters in Großenhainer Straße, where today, some of Eckehart SchumacherGebler’s extensive type collection is stored. Next door, in the former Typoart building, is now his Monotype typesetting and print shop. Photo by Romesh Naik. (Incidentally, I am right here for a week of workshops currently.)

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Academic Publishing on Typography

For the scholars among you who are looking for peer-reviewed places to publish their research papers, the following publications and journals may publish articles on type and typography related topics, visual communication, etc.

Academia.edu (online forum, may not count as peer-reviewed)
British Journal of Educational Technology
Convergence — International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies
Communication Design — Interdisciplinary and Graphic Design Research
Design Issues
Design and Culture
Digital Creativity
Gutenberg Jahrbuch (DE, submission guidelines)
Information Design Journal
International Journal of Design
Journal of Artistic Research
Journal of Design History
Journal of the Printing Historical Society
Printing History
Quaerendo
The Design Journal
The International Journal of the Book
Tools and Techniques for Computer Typesetting
Typography Papers
Visible Language (of which Amy just co-edited the latest issue!)

(The International Journal of Digital Typography seems to be discontinued.)

If you know of other relevant journals or publications, please let us know in the comments. I’ll update this list as I hear of more, too.

Making Matrices

A recent visit to the Gerstenberg type foundry let me finally wrap my head around the different methods of making matrices for foundry type, and how to distinguish them:

Striking a punch into copper
This is the traditional method mostly used in conjunction with hand-cut steel punches, later only used for smaller sizes until ±28pt; larger sizes are hard to strike totally level. Also, the larger the size, the more the copper block gets deformed from the extrusion of the material.

Stamping a matrix with a machine
Often done in conjunction with machine-cut punches, especially for the production of Linotype and Monotype matrices, and for foundry type when the design is supposed to match Lino or Mono typefaces. And for sizes above 28pt. Machine-cutting of punches was also used for very small sizes that were almost impossible to do by hand, e.g. 2pt or 4pt. Stamped matrices can be made of copper, steel, or other alloys.

Electrotyping matrices
Widely used in Europe in the 20th century. Usually applied in conjunction with the cutting of patrices (cutting “punches” into soft type metal alloy, called Zeugschnitt in German), mostly done for sizes from ±28pt up. The model gets placed into a galvanic solution for 24–60 hours, or longer, to produce the matrix layer. These forms, cut up, make up the “eye” of the matrix, which is filled out with zinc, tin, or brass, later also steel or other alloys. Material for the matrix-part was copper, nickel, or brass, with copper being less durable for use in the complete caster (also a reason why the traditional method was not much used in the 20th century) but the fastest to grow matrix-layers with.

These electrotyped copper matrix-eyes came loose from their “bodies”, presumably a zinc alloy. Copper does not bind well with zinc and has to be tinned at the backside.

Electrotyped ornament matrices

Cutting matrices for poster type
Type larger than 96pt was usually produced in wood or resin, because metal type gets very heavy and “material-intensive” at large sizes. Still, large-sized matrices can be made via a patrix (type metal or wood) and electrotyping, or by cutting the form out of 3–4 mm thick copper sheets and mounting these on thicker sheets. Alternatively, a cut-out brass form can be pressed into type metal to form a (pretty soft, so not very durable) matrix. Or you could go all old-school and make a sand mold, preferably using beer to moisten the sand, more sticky.

Machine-engraving matrices from patterns
Widely used in Europe in the 20th century. A pantographic milling machine, adjustable for different sizes, engraves the matrix in several step following a pattern. The material used is sometimes bronze, later usually (high speed) steel. Getting an even, plane bottom was hard to achieve in the beginning, so engraving was occasionally combined with galvanic methods, but especially for scripts or other typefaces with large overhangs and kerns because those matrices had to be deeper.

Patterns from Stempel for pantographic matrix engraving

Engraved matrices (above Calipso from Nebiolo, especially for Florian and Isabella 🙂

Dissertations and Papers from Type Culture

Mark Jamra’s site Type Culture hosts a couple of very interesting research papers and similar texts, for instance:

Oldrich Menhart: Calligrapher, Type Designer and Craftsman
by Veronika Burian

This extensive dissertation presents the versatile work of the great Czech calligrapher and type designer Oldrich Menhart in his most unique and interesting period between 1930 and 1948.

French Type Foundries in the Twentieth Century
by Alice Savoie

The value of this dissertation lies not only in what it imparts to the reader, but also in its rarity, since relatively little information on the recent history of type in France has been written in English. To people who are less than fluent in French, most information about the state of affairs in French type and typography is woefully out of reach. This well-written study focuses on the activity of French foundries, their fateful decisions regarding the adoption of new technologies and the evolution of French type design throughout the last hundred years.

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The Story of Perpetua

This essay relates the origins of the typeface Perpetua and Felicity italic which were designed by Eric Gill and produced by The Monotype Corporation. Although the type and the collaborators are well known, the story has had to be pieced together from a variety of sources—Gill’s and Morison’s own writings and biographical accounts. There are accounts similar to this, but none could be found that either takes this point of view, or goes into as great detail.

PDF (1.3 MB): The Story of Perpetua

This was originally submitted by Tiffany in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Master of Arts in Theory and History of Typography and Graphic Communication, at the University of Reading in 2000.