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Type design

Started by Richard Ure, June 22, 2008, 05:42:59 AM

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Printle: A Printing Word Game from Metal Type

Richard Ure

This may be a little off topic but there is only so much to be said about the good old days.

Formally typesetters just set type; now they can design type faces. I've been a bit busy to explore this in detail but others might have time to put this free service through its paces. Or to ponder if it's possibly to improve on the familiar faces.

Dave Hughes

Certainly looks interesting Richard!

It would be interesting to see what can be achieved on that site.

Anyone fancy having a go at creating "Old Linotype" complete with hairlines, etc.

Here's my attempt from some time ago (not a complete font, just an image!)

Printle: Word Puzzle for Printers Play Now

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Dave this is a little off the theme of this posting, but I think it is worth relating. The Sydney Morning Herald employed a chemist to test various products used by the company eg printing ink, newsprint, etc. The chemist phoned me one day, back in the seventies, and said he had a couple of Commonwealth Police Officers with him and that they'd like to talk to me.  With a clear conscience I went along to the laboratory where the police officers were waiting. One the officers explained to me that knock-off Saeco watches were being smuggled into Australia and sold to the unsuspecting public as the real McCoy. However, they believed the forged warranties were being printed in Sydney.  He handed me a warranty and asked if I could identify the typeface.
I said, "Sure, it's Times Roman."
His face lit up and he said, "Great! Do you know who uses this typeface?"
I told him we had around 120 Linotypes and 90 or more would have the same typeface. He looked somewhat disappointed. I also pointed out that whoever set the warranty was not a quality printer as the type was full of hairlines.
So watch out Dave, you might get a visit from the Commonwealth Police.
George Finn (Mechanic)
Gold Coast

Jeff Zilles [jeffo]

Since George has started the rot lets digress a little further with a story of forgers in Victoria Australia in the 1920's and best viewed  as a link with all the proper credits and E&OE.

It makes a good read with print related cops and robbers.


Dave Hughes

Nice story Jeff.

This passage intrigued me:

QuoteFor the past few weeks a number of men, ostensibly swaggies, have haunted the locality. In view of later developments, residents consider they were not unconnected with the police force.

Maybe you could clarify what a "Swaggie" is in Australian parlance, some kind of down-and-out or tramp?
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Jeff Zilles [jeffo]

Swagman - aka 'Swaggie'

A Swagman is an old Australian term describing a subculture of transient temporary workers who travelled by foot from place to place carrying the traditional swag. A popularly held though not entirely accurate belief was the  characteristic wearing of a hat strung with corks to ward off flies.  I cannot recall ever seeing a swagman so equipped and indeed it would probably be fourty or more years since I have seen one at all.

There are thousands of illustrations of a typical swagman but for the life of me I cannot find one this day.

The swagman's lifestyle must have been a challenging one. Often they would have been victims of circumstance who had found themselves homeless but there were certainly those who were 'rovers' by choice.

Most existed with few possessions as they were limited by what they could carry. Generally they had a swag (canvas bedroll), a tucker bag (bag for carrying food) and some cooking implements which invariably would have included a billy can (tea pot or stewing pot). They carried flour for making damper [an unleavened bread] and sometimes some meat for a stew.

I find it surprising that the ones referred to in the forger story did not give the game away.  Any minor excess of vagrant style activity close to an illicit operation would have to raise the level of paranoia inherent in the perpertrators -  'swaggies' with field glasses, large flat feet and brand new billies would stand out like a sore thumb.

I noted too, the predominance of Irish family names in the police roll-call and the lack of ethnic and geographic knowledge demonstrated by the investigators and the press - to wit, Warsaw was always in Poland, never in Russia. On one point, nothing much changes - the law and the press will always contrive to spell your name incorrectly.

The printing machine, I am pretty sure, was a nice new example of an Arab.  My father had one once but disposed of it before I was old enough to take notice so that I grew up thinking that all printing machinery was auto fed Chandler and Price and all type was hand set. The truth, I found, was a little different and never ceases to interest me.



While not wishing to halt this nostalgic ramble along the long paddock, the question of type design has now intrigued a writer at the NY Times (free registration may be required).

With this ability to make fronts from handwriting, the plods are going to need to improve their technical knowledges about reproduction tools. I suspect this new technology with be adopted by kids manufacturing notes from home for the teacher.

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