Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Banking on A Happy New Year

A bank note celebrating 365 happy days for the receiver on New Year's Day, 1906, and issued by the Bank of Prosperity in the State of Happiness for Miss Julia Heath. The handwritten text surrounding the border reads:

Trust the whole year will be to you as happy and pleasantly spent as the ride from Montgomery to Union Springs was to me. MC 

Now this makes me happy.

This little Happy Days bank book just HAS to be from that same Bank of Prosperity in the State of Happiness! I'm banking on happy days ahead. Hope the same goes for you.                            H a p p y    2 0 1 4    t o    A l l    o f    Y o u !

::Source: eBay

Monday, December 30, 2013

Planet Type

This ain't no disco ball. No, but it could be, however I actually like to think of it as "Planet Type" orbiting the celestial Typosphere. In truth, it is an IBM Selectric type ball, spinning on its axis, or more commonly known as an "IBM golf ball", so named as it resembles one in size. The type ball was originally engineered for IBM's Selectric Typewriter in the early 1960s, and offered an interchangeable typewriter font which rotated and tilted into position before striking each letter onto the page. The first monospaced type ball fonts came in a variety of styles and two sizes: 10 or 12 characters-per-inch. These features represented an enormous innovation for IBM at that time, and a rather rudimentary introduction to the world of desktop publishing.

Source: IBM100 | Icons of Progress

This sweet little orbital type ball is actually the first of its kind I've come across. If memory serves, the IBM type balls typically came packaged in their own little clear plastic cases, ready for instant installation, so you could switch fonts with ease. I purchased this miniature "type planet" globe from a dealer who knew less about it than I, but presumed it was never something IBM actually distributed. 
     Soon after discovering the little "Planet Type" several weeks ago, my old friend and typewriter devotee, Alyson Kuhn, coincidentally shared the happy news of a recent endowment to her type ball library of fonts, given to her from typewriter "Repair Saint", Gerry Wallace, in gratitude for her many referrals. 

Not only was I impressed with the news of her kind endowment, but I had to inquire about her lovely personal stationery. She responded in kind with a second decorative envelope filled with various examples of her crested notepads which were designed by Michael Osborne, and letterpress printed onto Crane's papers by Judith Berliner of Full Circle Press. For the full background story read her earlier report on Felt & Wire.

The next handsomely engineered enclosure within this mailing, was Alyson's Alphagram (or Alysongram), with letterpress printed alphabet, vertically arranged to match the line-spacing of her typewriter. Her delightful note was typed in the lovely "Business Script", which I find quite expressive and characteristic of many mid-century script fonts in use at that time, such as Brush Script and Kaufmann. 

The last enclosure was a save-the-date promotional postcard for Ex Postal Facto 2014, an upcoming 3-day conference celebrating mail art, faux philatelics and postal modernism, to be held in San Francisco in mid-February. This could be a type ball for postal art people. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Volumes of Seasons' Readings

Celebrating faux books and the holiday spirit on this eve of Christmas with another edition of Seasons' Readings from the Letterology stacks. This book/menu from Miss Frank E. Buttolph's Menu collection held at the New York Public Library, opens to display the menu for the annual dinner for the University Law School class of '02, held at the Hotel Marlborough in 1900. Learn more about the colorful Miss Buttolph and her fabulous menus here.

This sweet, but abbreviated volume of good wishes from Aunt Viola promises to be a very quick read. She wasn't much for sentiments I guess.

 Another cheery bookish greeting with candles found here

Personally dedicated Volumes of Joy from this eBay dealer to you.

From the self-help section of St. Nick's personal library

And a favorite repeat from last year which is filed under "from me to you" in the Letterology Library. Happy seasons' readings all! I'm out of here for a few days. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Holiday Cookbookery

Today's feature is a sampling of some festive holiday cookbook covers to suit every appetite.

The "real" Duncan Hines demonstrates how to carve a turkey in his 1950s cookbook.

Plan your meat menu for every day of the year. 

Is there any other kind? Why the scary-looking title?

The 1954 holiday cookbook courtesy of The Gas Company of Chicago. 

1955 Peter Pauper's edition of the Merrie Christmas Cook Book with charming illustrations and cover design by Ruth McCrea.

The 1965 edition of Suzanne Huntley's The Twelve Days of Christmas Cookbook, designed and illustrated by Milton GlaserAll of these featured holiday cookbooks and more are from Steven Daniel's fine cookbookery collection found here.

This cookbook list would be entirely incomplete without the most popular cookbook ever sold, The Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer (1877-1962). The dust jacket of the 1931 first edition, was designed by her daughter, Marion Rombauer Becker. It features the patron saint of cooking, St. Martha of Bethany, who allegedly fended off the dragon, Tarasque with a mop—my kind of saint! This cookbook which has brought joy to many (including myself), for more than 80 years is a remarkable story, which can be read in greater detail here. In short, Rombauer self-financed the printing of her first cookbook from a $6000 legacy received after her husband's death. Within two years, her investment was returned, which was a remarkable accomplishment, considering she was self-marketing the books while the looming economic decline of the Great Depression was on the horizon. 
     This first edition with a remarkably clean dust jacket is currently being offered by James Jaffe Rare Books, and is enclosed in a cloth folding box. If you are looking for the last minute gift for that special someone, it can be yours for $40,000. Book Patrol recently reported that even first editions without dust jackets are currently on the market at $5000 which you can see here. As Jaffe Rare Books remarked in their description, Rombauer was "acutely aware of the economic depression into which she is casting her book." On the front flap of the dust jacket she wrote, "The Zeitgeist is reflected in the Chapter of Leftovers and in many other practical suggestions." 

Image source: Book Patrol

This well-used edition of Joy of Cooking belongs to my good friend Jacqueline Snider. That permanent "brand", she tells me—seen on the back cover—is what her husband, Chris, calls their official "Snider Family Crest". Safe and joyous cooking people ;)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Mid-Century Greeting

This 1958 holiday card from Saul & Lillian Marks of The Plantin Press was a recent acquisition found at the last Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair in October, and I still marvel every time I look at it. Saul Marks could manipulate type ornaments by hand, like no other, and he was a master at laying ink on paper.
     Saul Marks (1905-1974) began printing as an apprentice in Poland at the age of 12. He emigrated to the US in 1921, and met and married Lillian in 1928. Three years later, they moved to Los Angeles to set up their press, just as the Depression neared. Together, they maintained a small operation in order to give each book and project their personal attention, and before long, their type and press work set new standards in book production, and helped to establish Los Angleles as a center of fine press printing. When Saul died in 1974, his wife, Lillian struggled to keep the press in operation, but eventually closed it down in 1985. Together, they left an impressive legacy of fine books and ephemera that remain unequaled. 

From the Smithsonian collection of artist Christmas cards, comes these two typographic favorites of mine from American abstract painter, Frederick Hammersley (1919-2009). Both are silkscreen prints from the early-to-mid-1950s. The "Joy" Card below opens at fold to reveal more of the modern santas with their red and green hats. 

Once again, no credit available for this holiday jewel with such beautiful typography from Art Center in Pasadena. The links here are broken (mind the link gaps please people!), but it appears to be from the 1950s.

A nice arboreal display of typographic rules to set the holiday in motion. This card was composed by the Kenilworth Press in New York City and made available on Flickr, through the Herb Lubalin Study Center

Long-time design chief at CBS, Lou Dorfsman (1918-2008), designed this elegantly simple Dorfsman Family greeting in 1953, complete with pressed fern. It is unconfirmed if he illustrated the stamps of family members on the glassine envelope. I would add however, that these stamps may have been the prequel to the Brady Brunch opening credits. Contributed by the Herb Lubalin Study Center.

A handsomely embossed holiday greeting from Lester Beall (1903-1969) who was a pioneer of modernist design in this country. No date, but I believe it was mid-to-late 1950s, before he changed his firms name to Lester Beall IncContributed by the Herb Lubalin Study Center.

An undated Christmas greeting designed by Robert Harling (1910-2006), British designer, novelist, editor and typographer who first published Typography, in the mid-1930s together with James Shand. This influential journal of design and typography only ran for eight issues after WWII events began to take place, but it showcased the work of such designers as Jan Tschichold, Eric Gill, Herbert Bayer and E. McKnight Kauffer. Shand and Harling later went on to publish another influential journal in the mid-1940s called Alphabet and Image, which carried on their mission after Typography was discontinued. 
     What I find so elegantly attractive about this greeting card of Harling's is the distinctive contrast between the size and weight of the decorative bold caps in relation to the small script font overlapping the ampersand. He pulled out all the stops by contrasting principles of form, structure, size, and color and weight here—an approach which Jan Tschichold aptly applied at times in some of his book work. 
     Source: Rose C'est La Vie and Kerry William Purcell. All for now...

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Snowman Species

Source: Letterology Archives
Snowmen are on the march with increasing frequency these days—protesting polluters and demanding we change our wasteful ways.

Source: Darling & Co. via Vintage Cottage Home
This isn't the only thing which threatens their endangerment however. The affable snowman also has a long history of character assassination and trademark infringement. In an advertisement by Esso oil in the 1960s, the snowman was rebranded as their mascot, Happy, the oil droplet. Oh the irony.

Source: Xray Delta One Flickrstream via Grand Prix

Source: Atomic Western
In the mid-40s, he had to suffer the indignities of pimping for Thermo anti-freeze.

Source: MadsLucky13
And he's been deflated with a name of "Snowman Sam", and stuffed into plastic bags for longer shelf-life. 

Source: Froggyboggler

 Frosty has even been put into the deep freeze for preservation.

Source: Letterology Archives
Ten years ago now, I took up my own personal crusade to save the endangered snowman. In a bid to wipe out global warming, I designed and silkscreen-printed a couple hundred of these typographically-illustrated pop-up snowman sponges. Instructions were simple: Just add water.

To package the sponge, I also silkscreened the glassine envelopes, and penned a couple of 5-line stanzas to accompany my holiday mailer.

Got to love and protect the snowman.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Some Seasonal Samplings

"The Little Gallery", which opened in England 1928, was an influential crafts gallery owned by Muriel Rose (1897-1986), a pioneer in the 20th century crafts movement. She championed the work of many innovative textile artists, pottery and folk artists of the day until the gallery closed in 1939. These images are from the Crafts Study Centre, via Venetian Red, yet I could not find any reference or credit for the delightful pen work in the holiday image above, which showcases the galleries wares. It looks like it could be the work of Barbara Jones possibly, but I cannot trace it to her either. If anyone has a clue who I should attribute this to, please let me know. 

Update: A kind reader informed me that this charming illustration was the hand of artist and designer, Alan (Sam) Smith who began working and exhibiting some of his work at Muriel Rose's shop in 1935. This illustration was used for a holiday promotional card for The Little Gallery in 1936. "Lots of surprises in all handy sizes". 

Another brilliant artist, Margaret Bryan produced these festive illustrations for A Children's Almanac in 1947. They appear as if they could even be from the same hand as the illustration above. Bryan's background also remains a mystery, but she was obviously a very accomplished illustrator. View the entire set of her artworks from this almanac at Full Table.

The work of contemporary British artist, Emily Sutton always lifts my spirits, even on the coldest days. Her hand lettering capabilities are just as endearing as her colorful illustrations with the many patterns. These first two festive scenes below are part of a larger pack of recent holiday cards produced for Godfrey & Watt, an online artist gallery of some sizeable talents. The Dickens at Christmas illustration is a new cover title from Vintage Classics. See many more of Sutton's work here.