Tuesday, April 22, 2014

La Typographie

This first volume of La Typographie, on the techniques of book and graphic arts, was published in Paris in 1930 by Henry Babou under the direction of Marcel Valotaire. This cover photo by Jacques Evers is one of 30 photogravure plates of his work. I first discovered this beautiful French journal in the Wolfsonian archive at the University of Florida Digital Collections, however the title page seen just below was sourced here

These beautiful photogravure prints seen above of Evers photos are the only images available from the Wolfsonian Archives, however I was delighted to learn the entire book is made available from the International Monotype Memory Project (IMMP.) In their link to a black & white PDF (which appears to be from a reproduction), you can download this entire book complete with text (in French), photos and illustrations on the production of a fine press book;)


  1. It's fascinating to see the painstaking work of setting type up close. Thanks for sharing!

    Any idea what the guy is doing with the scissors in the photo 3rd from the end?

    1. I was also wondering about this photo. I haven't seen this practice before, but presume it is a method to test type that is too high. Perhaps they cut holes to use it as a guide? Anyone else have a clue?

    2. Well, the full caption to the photo in the book is "La mise en train", which is "makeready" in English (I was rather impressed that Google Translate could handle this). See also pp. 38-39 of the book. It is the process of painstakingly changing the thickness of certain of the sheets in the packing on a press (by adding tissue, by cutting away) to ensure that the form prints evenly. As shown in most American texts, this is usually done by adding tissue to relatively broad areas. The work shown here is astonishingly detailed by comparison.

    3. Such meticulous work, but it would probably take the guesswork out of packing. Thanks for the explanation David.


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