Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Tin Toy Bookmobiles

This Letterology Summer Rerun is from nearly a year ago, on July 11th. Benjamin Clark of the Exile Bibliophile found this Japanese toy bookmoblie on eBay in 2008 and saw that it closed for $710 at the time. According to the seller, "The Children Books Service Car" as it is called, is most likely from the 1950s and made for the American market. However it's still missing the personalized license plate: ABCBOOK.
     Since my first post of this beautiful tin toy bookmobile a year ago, I've found only one other which was donated to the Tennesee State Museum. It was evidently created to be a replica of the 1950s Ford V-8 delivery van used by the Tennessee Regional Library, and came fully loaded with two sliding front doors and a hinged rear door that worked. No mention if it included stacks of miniature books or a tiny librarian. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Homes Fit for Birdbrains

This birdhouse comes ready to serve. Maison de Julia, is a part of the Letterology Summer Rewind series, but with an added postscript of some additional literary lodgings seen below. All are designed by Dave Vissat, and available at Uncommon Goods

This last group of three "Billbirdhouses" shown above are the creation of the design studio Boomdesign in The Netherlands, and made from recycled billboards. Next, I want them to build me a house of recycled letters.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Magic Type Redux

Thou shalt never use a typewriter for evil or greedy gain. "Don't destroy the type!"

From the adventures deep inside the comic book by Four Color Process, comes the seeker of truth about Ben-Day dots, and the lost art of the comic book. This is the first episode of the Letterology Summer Reruns, and one post I have been longing to revisit. John Hilgart, who calls himself "Half-Static | Half-Man", prefers to remain the half-man behind the Ben-Day curtain. Even so, he has much to say regarding the art of comic books and the artists who created them between the 1940s and 1970s—back in the days of mechanical separations of four-color process printing on cheap paper which created the "accidental aesthetics which governed the experience of comics for generations". They were a product of economic times and the limits of the printing technology of the day, and were reproduced in massive volumes and sold for no more than a quarter. I'm pleased to share more images below beyond my original post of April 5th 2011, but I highly encourage further dot-art explorations over at 4CP.    

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Summer Reading Rap

Yes, I am putting a wrap on things while Letterology goes on Summer vacation for next 2 weeks. Stay tuned for some "best of" Summer rewinds. Meanwhile, if anyone has some book or type-related suggestions of things to do, places to go, or events to see in the Boston to Nova Scotia corridor during that time, please let me know. Letterology is going on the road. 
::Hat's off to Maria Popova at ExpLore for DeStorm's book title rap. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Typewriter Tales

Happy Birthday Mr. Type-writer! It was 144 years ago today, on June 23, 1868 when the first patent was given to Christopher Latham Sholes, Carlos Glidden and Samuel Soule for the mechanical type-writer. It was designed to apply the relative efficiency of moveable type to the individual office worker. Although a much earlier patent was issued to William Burt of Detroit, for his "typographer" which had rotating characters, it proved to be unreliable and often took much longer to type than writing in longhand. Soon after Sholes' type-writer invention, he licensed his patent to the American gun maker, Remington & Sons in New York who were responsible for the manufacturing of many of the armaments during the Civil War. Remington later released the first commercial typewriter called the "Remington Model 1" in 1874.

The evolution of Sholes' typewriter is a remarkable history. It is credited as being one of the greatest inventions of the 19th century as it changed the world and helped to usher in the industrial revolution. When I first saw the illustration of Sholes' patented type-writer, I was immediately struck by the uncanny resemblance of another word processor; the first Apple computer which was invented by Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs and Ronald Wayne in 1976, just 108 years later. Although light years apart, they are each nearly the same size wooden box with a keyboard. Sholes' keyboard resembled a toy piano, while Apple's borrowed from the typewriter's Qwerty keyboard. Who could have predicted how these two inventions for the advancement of moveable type would transform our world? It just blows my mind.  

Friday, June 22, 2012

Retro Desktop Printing

Being somewhat of a space-challenged designer, I recently found the perfect press for desktop printing. It actually was an eBay score, but the owner had little information about the history of this little so-called iron handpress. The footprint of my little press with sleek gold pin-striping, is only 4 x 6 inches and it tips the scale at less than 2 lbs, making it quite portable. Seeing that the press bed is only 1.5 x 2.5 inches wide, it will be the perfect press for printing postage stamps. It has four screw holes on the feet so I can safely apply pressure for those long postage stamp press runs. It needs a new self-inking pad, but otherwise looks like it is all in good working order. And no messy rollers to clean or toner to refill! 

Poking around on the internets today I found this red and green 1940s Fulton salesman's toy printing press below which appears to be identical to my own in all but the color. At one time, it had been listed for sale on Amazon. Next I found a link on the Briar Press community site where someone asked for help in identifying a press identical to mine above. Paul Aken of The Platen Press Museum had this to say:
      The 'Fulton' was originally made by the Baumgarten Co. of Baltimore, MD in several styles as the 'Baltimore Printing Press'. Fulton bought their patterns in 1934. My 'Fulton' No. 80' is green like the one on Amazon, but apparently one of the styles of the 'Baltimore' was black.
These presses each have a slot on the "platen" or the top level, which held a piece of wood with a metal insert. Rubber type was placed in this wooden mount or "chase", then pressed on the ink pad in the top level. The paper sat in the base below where it waited to receive the impression.  

This funny little toy press above which resembles a miniature Zamboni, was listed for sale recently as a Pressed Steel Buddy 'L' Toy Printing Press, circa 1937. It sold here recently for $60. It operates on the same principle as all of the other presses shown here, which is merely by applying pressure.
      The Crown Press featured below is the real gem in this group of early desktop printers. Spotted on Martin Howard's site of typewriters and other neato office supplies, this press was patented on February 14th, 1888. To see more adorable miniature and toy presses, stop by The Platen Press Museum and view the slideshow there. Sweet!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Silence Experiment

The difficulty of learning any new language is learning pronunciation. With all of the excessive silent letters, it is no easy task to wrangle words into sentences. In the English language, one can fairly admit there are a surplus of vowels that are wallflowers of a sort. They are present but seldom accounted for unless you are in a spelling bee. 
Well now, someone has visually demonstrated all of the matter that these silent but surplus letters visually make when printed in three different languages. In the project Silenc, developed for a recent Data Visualization course at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design, students Manas Karambelkar, Momo Miyazaki and Kenneth A. Robertsen took on this challenge. They present a visual display of an interpretation of silent letters within Danish, English and French, and it is based upon the concept of find-and-replace. A database is constructed from hundreds of rules and exceptions, and an open source processing code then marks up the silent letters.
To visualize the collected data, it is displayed in different methods. In a graphic display, a common text written in 3 languages is created using the same fonts and style. All of the silent letters are then assembled at the bottom of the page as a measure of their enormity. In the book, the silent letters are all in red, and when viewing this with a red-filtered 3D lens, these letters disappear entirely. The results of these demonstrations are compelling. Just think of all the space, paper and ink we would save, by not printing or reading all of these surplus letters. Less is always more. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Bike Badges of Honor

Old bicycle head badges have long intrigued me for their beauty and their engaging names: Girlcycle, Peoria King, Roadmaster, to name just a fewReputations of bike manufacturers were built upon these names and identifying brands, and the design of their head badges took on greater significance as the competition among them increased. As you can see from many of the examples here, the most successful bicycle badges relied a great deal on the work of skilled designers and lettering artists of the day. Most of them were originally made of etched metals and often included cloisonné inlay. Today these elaborate badges are highly collectible because they are such beautiful examples of early graphic design. I've included just a few of my favorites from various sources described below each of them.
::Harmony, from The Cabe; The Classic & Antique Bicycle Exchange.

::Gruno, from Bikegeek29's Flickrstream. Check out many other awesome head badges there as well.

::The Rocket is currently listed on eBay. Undated.

::The mighty Automoto, from pkahraman's Flickrstream.

::Western Flyer from fixedgear, who also has quite an archive on Flickr.

::Wearwell from nin-i-fer-rose.

::This appears to be a decal of type ornaments. Looks like it was cosmetically retouched on the bike as well. From rebalrid.

::Union from vee wheelie.

::Simplex | Amsterdam, from transportfiets.

::Shelby Flyer from Joey Mac.

::Edoardo Bianchi decal from atk15706.

::Rambler Cycle with a beautiful bifurcated R from eak moy.

::Steyr from collectvelo.

::Oria Cycles from Jacques Mounnezergues.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Some People Do Read

So maybe it's only a matchbook, but at least it's a book! For people with short attention spans like myself. Wait until Oprah hears about this one.
::From Inferno55's Inferno 55's Flickrstream

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Ode de Dad

A close-up of some lovely hand lettered "Dad Type" from my Victorian songsheet collection. Below are more ode's and hymns to all the hims we celebrate today. Happy Father's Day, Dads!

The three songsheets immediately above are from Cover Browser. The two below are from the Spellman Collection of Victorian Music Covers at VADS.