Bookarts Calligraphy Type

Printer's Devil, The Life and Work of Frederic Warde

Printer's Devil, The Life and Work of Frederic Warde

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The biography of a central figure in the final era of hot-metal composition and printing

The book and type designer Frederic Warde is remembered today chiefly for his collaboration with Stanley Morison, for producing the singular typeface Arrighi. His life was short (he died in 1939, at the age of only forty-five) but in the previous two decades he had pursued a peripatetic, rollercoaster career that saw him come into contact with most of the leading players in his field, in England, Europe, and America: Bruce Rogers, Mardersteig, Updike, Ruzicka, George Macy, William Kittredge, and, of course, Morison, are just a few of a stellar cast of characters whose lives intersected with his orbit.

Until now, as it was scantily documented, Warde is the missing piece in the story of design, type, and printing in the interwar years, and this book will make essential reading for anyone interested in that critical period, one that saw the end of hot-metal and the emergence of graphic design as a distinct profession. Warde laid many false trails about his personal history, but the author has drawn upon a surprisingly large body of surviving documentation to piece together a fascinating picture of his life and of the complex, frustrating, sometimes dislikeable, but often inspiring, figure at its center.

The best of Warde's extensive body of work displays a restraint and economy linked with an often striking color sense that feels thoroughly modern in its approach. This output was maintained, sometimes erratically, against the backdrop of Warde's mercurial and fragmented professional and personal life. Polarizing the opinions of those he met, he was unfailingly a prolific, entertaining, and informed letter writer, and his correspondence provides invaluable insights into his world and those around him. Here is a designer's life played out against the backdrop of the boom years of the 1920s, the challenges of the Depression, and the obstacles and opportunities created by his own remarkable, but troubled, genius.

The Bad Ass Librarians

The Bad Ass Librarians

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To save ancient Arabic texts from Al Qaeda, a band of librarians pulls off a brazen heist worthy of Ocean's Eleven in this "fast-paced narrative that is...part intellectual history, part geopolitical tract, and part out-and-out thriller" (The Washington Post) from the author of The Falcon Thief.

In the 1980s, a young adventurer and collector for a government library, Abdel Kader Haidara, journeyed across the Sahara Desert and along the Niger River, tracking down and salvaging tens of thousands of ancient Islamic and secular manuscripts that were crumbling in the trunks of desert shepherds. His goal: preserve this crucial part of the world's patrimony in a gorgeous library. But then Al Qaeda showed up at the door.

"Part history, part scholarly adventure story, and part journalist survey...Joshua Hammer writes with verve and expertise" (The New York Times Book Review) about how Haidara, a mild-mannered archivist from the legendary city of Timbuktu, became one of the world's greatest smugglers by saving the texts from sure destruction. With bravery and patience, Haidara organized a dangerous operation to sneak all 350,000 volumes out of the city to the safety of southern Mali. His heroic heist "has all the elements of a classic adventure novel" (The Seattle Times), and is a reminder that ordinary citizens often do the most to protect the beauty of their culture. His the story is one of a man who, through extreme circumstances, discovered his higher calling and was changed forever by it.

The Noblest Roman A History of the Centaur Types of Bruce Rogers

The Noblest Roman: A History of the Centaur Types of Bruce Rogers

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Roughly fifteen years after Gutenberg printed the first substantial book in Mainz in 1455, Nicolas Jenson of Venice produced what has been universally recognized among the most beautiful typefaces ever created. Based on the humanistic calligraphy of the Renaissance, an even and infinitely various set of lowercase letters that had evolved from the Carolingian minuscules of the ninth century, Jenson's types were a miracle of proportion and evenness of color. In the late nineteenth century, it was imitated by Morris in his Golden Type of 1892 (far too heavy), and in the next by Cobden-Sanderson with his Doves Type, Goudy with his Deepdene, and Hunter Middleton with his Eusebius.
But it was really not until Bruce Rogers, following his stint at the Riverside Press in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he first attempted a version of the type in his Montaigne font, tackled the challenge of creating a roman equal to (and in some ways surpassing) the Jenson original. The proof of his success is that it has been used, and held in high esteem, ever since.
The story behind the type, the many permutations through which it went, the myths that accrued and surrounded it are all exposed in this fully documented account of the type's genesis and development. Often and justly called the noblest roman of them all, the book has been designed and set in a digital version especially created by Jerry Kelly who, along with co-author Misha Beletsky, have unearthed, mined, and refined a trove of typographic history to create the definitive history of what many consider the most beautiful typeface created by an American in the last century.

with All Faults

With All Faults

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On its face, this is a book about old books. And it is, in fact, just that - a book filled with essays about old books, as the subtitle puts it. "With All Faults" is an auctioneer's term for describing an old or rare book known or suspected to be imperfect.

The essays in this collection are based on the author's experiences as a book scout, collector, dealer, and publisher over the course of fifty years. But as Jim Steinmeyer's review in Genii puts it, Meyer's book is "disarmingly subtitled." Why? Because the author has played an important role in the magic world as a publisher of classic books on conjuring.

Steinmeyer goes on to say, "...while these 13 fascinating chapters are focused on creaky library shelves of curious books, they are invariably about the people who wrote them, published them, sold them, hoarded them, and loved them for various reasons. Because of David's career and interests, magicians will find that those library doors continually open to discover many of our dear friends: Jay and Frances Marshall, Bob and Elaine Lund, Ricky Jay, David Copperfield, Robert Parrish, Okito, Thurston, and Nelmar, among others."

This is a book magicians will most certainly revel in and relish, as they take in tales of the classic conjuring pulp publications of the early twentieth century, Robert Lund's pre-American Museum of Magic escapades with the works of Alister Crowley, Robert Parrish and Theo Bamberg's work to bring Okito on Magic into print, and the unusual career of Anthony "Nelmar" Albino, the curious Chicago publisher of magic periodicals and pamphlets.