Out of Sorts by Scripps College Press

$250.00 - Please contact 23 Sandy for current availability.
The 1000-year history of type manufacturing is full of surprises.
  • In China and Korea, movable type was developed in clay, wood and other materials hundreds of years before Gutenberg's famous printed Bible.
  • Recent investigations at Princeton University have even cast doubt on Gutenberg's hand mould process, showing evidence of a different method of casting type.
  • Although European methods for metal typecasting of Arabic type were developed within 65 years of the publication of Gutenberg's Bible, Islamic countries did not allow books printed in metal until the 19th century: the calligraphic tradition was strongly supported by the state.
  • Type for computers today continues to be made by "typefoundries," though the methods are programmatic rather than carved punches hammered into a copper matrix for casting.
After students researched type manufacturing history, it seemed reasonable to ask them this semester to design and carve their own movable type in cherry wood. To keep it simple and direct, two prints made by lettering artist Hans Schmidt in the 60s were brought in as models for a highly geometric typeface. The proportions were modified to reflect the eight width groupings of the Trajan Column capitals in Rome. Letters not in Schmidt's prints needed to be designed. Carving commenced and continued throughout the semester as new letters were needed for the book. We often found ourselves out of sorts. We purchased Fontographer so that a sub-group of four students could digitize the type from the drawn and carved forms. A variety of experiments with the type could now be made into plates for printing. The experience of designing a typeface and manufacturing it in class proved time-consuming, painstaking, exhilarating, and ultimately rewarding. Fourteen students in the Typography and the Book Arts class at Scripps College designed and produced this book by letterpress on four Vandercook presses. The wood type was carved into cherry and digitized by the students, who named it NeoSchmidt, after the lettering artist Hans Schmidt, whose prints they studied. The visual aspects of the book were inspired by the geometric structures of medieval book imagery. The colors of the linoleum blocks reflect the preponderance of lapis lazuli blue, crimson red and royal purple in medieval miniatures. The Ginga Iridescent Orange bookcloth used for the binding introduces gold which was prevalent in medieval manuscripts.

Artist Bio

The Scripps College Press was founded in 1941 as an experimental typographic laboratory. In 1986 Kitty Maryatt became the Director of the Press and instituted a new program of collaborative class books. Two letterpress books are produced each year by the Typography class. The class supported by the Press is entitled Typography and the Book Arts. Students from all five of the Claremont Colleges are allowed to attend. The premise of the class is that all students will learn the highest standards of typography and printing by publishing their own books. These neophyte students are asked to write on a given subject, make imagery, design the layout, hand set the metal type, print the book by letterpress and bind the edition of about 100 copies, all in one semester.