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Cees W. de Jong is a designer and publisher based in Laren, the Netherlands. He has published numerous books on design, architecture and art, and is now working as a design/publishing consultant and author. He has also published many books on graphic design. Alston W. Purvis is professor of the visual arts division of the School of Arts at Boston University, USA. He is also the author on many books on graphic design. Jan Tholenaar is collector of the printed letter in all various incarnations through exquisite design catalogs and specimen books. He lives in Amsterdam.
Let us consider the letter A. We must take the simple, three-lined capital A, because the lowercase a is not only complicated by curvy lines but it also comes in two distinct popular forms, one with a straight line at the right of the loop and one in which the line curves over the loop like an umbrella. So, I say, consider the A. Three straight lines, two leaning together up to a point, and one horizontal connecting their midsections. This is the Platonic A, the essence, and you'd know it anywhere. But if you start looking at the huge number of examples of A (and every other letter) in _Type: A Visual History of Typefaces and Graphic Styles, Volume I, 1628-1900_ (Taschen), you may get the idea that that exemplar A can't really stand for much because there are too many variables. There are some letters A that have no straight lines (or are made up of flowers, or cartoons of heads), there are plenty that have no pointy top, there are lots that have more than three lines to them (it would take 20th century fonts to produce letters A with less than three lines), and so on. The book is edited by Cees W. de Jong, and it features examples of metal type specimens from the collection of the late Jan Tholenaar. Both these authors have written essays to provide a little context, but it is very little, compared to the 250 pages of print specimens, handsomely laid out in a big format on rich paper, between covers of canvas with the title and design stamped into it. This is a handsome object throughout.
Despite the subtitle, _Type_ is not really a history of type. It's bulk consists of beautifully reproduced pages of print catalogues from the specimen books Jan Tholenaar used to collect, and he concentrated on ones from the Victorian age.Read more ›
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Jan Tholenaar got for many years in the ban of the beuatiful typespecimenbooks particularely of the 19th century. He collected an unbelievable number of these books and know you can believe it after having seen a view in a number of items of his collection. I had the pleasure to meet him when he was in the middle of the creation of the visual history of typefaces and he enthousastically explained me how typesetters sometimes worked more than a month on one page! Recomended to everybody that loves old typography.
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