- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: David R Godine Pub (May 1990)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 087923332X
- ISBN-13: 978-0879233327
- Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,764,777 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Anatomy of a Typeface
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Top Customer Reviews
Each chapter is an article (or perhaps adapted from an article) originally for a magazine called Printing Impressions. As a result they stand alone better than they fit together: some stories are duplicated or unnecessarily scattered over several chapters, while others seem more compressed than they had to be (such as his discussions of sans-serif typefaces.) The type samples are good, often original, which is wonderful for history (but will be a disappointment if you wanted side-by-side comparisons.)
The discussion of the workshop process of making metal type is tantalising but not all that helpful to understanding. And while it has pretty old engravings, they aren't labled or explained to help distinguish essential parts from workshop quirks.
I'd certainly recommend reading Robert Bringhurst's Elements of Typographic Style first. I've not yet read James Felici's Complete Manual of Typography but people say good things. From browsing it seems to be more specific than Bringhurst, with more focus on technology, and less on timelessness. (It's hard to tell but I doubt it has his wonderful prose.)
What this book does well is present specimens of different typefaces within each family, showing how the letterforms drifted through time, or how they evolved to meet specific demands of paper, ink, and press. The typefaces are arranged in a chronological order, of sorts, but one type face's era may overlap another a large margin. Within each chapter, Lawson explores the development of that typeface, from the calligraphy and earlier letterforms that preceded it up through its contemporary appearance and use. The many examples also show the relationships between members of the same evolutionary tree. A few times, though, the samples could have been bigger, e.g. for pointing out differences in bracketing of the serifs.
This is very much a history of the type designers, printers, and other people in the history of type. It also gives some history of printing and typefounding technology. That motivates discussions of typefaces that were created to solve specific problems of paper, ink, and press, as well as esthetics. Historical information about punchcutting technology and modern type creation tools also explains the changing business relationships between font designers, distributors, and users.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Exceded my hopes. Does a wonderful job of telling the history of typeface, in a clear, easy to understand way. I found it fascinating.Published on April 11, 2013 by jeaniee1953
This collection of essays about type and the people who design it is, I think, essential reading for those who care about typography. Read morePublished on July 19, 2012 by Joseph L. Breckenridge