It’s been an exciting year in type; one that saw many technical innovations, company mergers and restructuring, as well as some delightful new font releases which we will surely encounter in printed matter around the world soon.
But let’s start with the biggest loss for our industry in 1915: Georges Peignot, type founder in Paris and one of our greatest type designers — of Grasset, Auriol, or Cochin to name a few — died in battle, only 43 years old. Curious to see how long the foundry will be able to remain independent without its head :/ Another substantial loss was the death of Wilhelm Woellmer’s CEO Siegmund Borchardt. His son Fritz (34) suceeded him at the Berlin foundry.
The recent trend to work with freelance type designers instead of just in-house drawing offices has been catching on in more and more countries. Only ATF is still relying on their type director Morris Fuller Benton for most of their type developments. Another welcomed trend — at least among the large foundries — continues to be the development of type families as opposed to a conglomerate of styles issued over the years. This enables typesetters and typographers to design more cohesive products. Thumbs up for this.
On the tech front, Monotype came out with its Lead-and-Rule Attachment which turns your normal composition caster into a “convertible” — casting high and low spacing material of any size, rules, high and low leads and slugs of any thickness from two to twelve point. It’s the first device using the new fusion casting technology by Amos L. Knight (or Lester Waldon) for incremental fused casting of type metal in unlimited lengths. Furthermore, Monotype increased their possible casting size range to up to 24! Their Salfords factory however was given over to the making of machine gun parts which necessitated the expansion of the facilities but on the positive side brought Salfords its own railway station to serve the Monotype plant.
Industry news was still all about mergers and acquisitions: the Offenbach player Klingspor bought up Lehmann & Mohr and dissolved it, as well as F. W. Aßmann and Wilhelm Gronau in Berlin. Stempel bought and merged Roos & Junge, Offenbach into their Frankfurt imperium, furthering their quasi-monopoly in the Rhine/Main area. And if the war wasn’t unfortunate enough for the business, Berthold Moscow was fully destroyed in the people’s revolt in spring. In more positive news, Fundición Tipográfica Nacional Madrid was founded as a department of Schriftguss AG. Looking forward to see what’s coming from them in the following years. ATF continues to do well and expands steadily with more and more offices across the US. Their 1912 specimen book seems to have really boosted sales. Year-long effort and marketing money well spent.
Speaking of books — the new big Linotype is out! [Order yours today.] But not everyone seems to be a fan of the market-driven company developments of late. Chauncey Griffith pointed out in his usual frank tone that “the library consists of a long list of filled customers’ orders with no control of duplicate designs, no standard character sizes or sets.” He proposed that only the best version of each design should be used as a model and then cut in a complete set of sizes and characters. Curious what others think of this, let us know in the comments.
And finally, Francis Meynell persuaded the Oxford University Press to let him have two cases of the Fell type in English size. Thank god.
Other notable releases have been:
MT Canterbury 197
MT Caslon 128