The William Morris Legacy on Typography

Fournier's picture

William Morris was a key artist in the second half of the XIX th century through the pre-raphaelites and the Arts & Crafts and had a vivid influence on the creation of private press. Some typographers and calligraphers asserted they followed the path of Morris. Among them, find at least three names of early XX th century typographers: the American Frederic Goudy, the Austrian Victor Hammer and the German Rudolf Koch.

Do you know other typographers under the influence of William Morris, by the way?
Thanks in advance.

William Berkson's picture

The book The Kelmscott Press: A History of William Morris's Typographical Adventure by William S. Peterson is very good, and includes a chapter on the immediate, direct influences of Morris.

I think the impact of Morris is huge, but more general. For one thing, he made revivals of old type fashionable, resulting in a flood of revivals in the early 20th century. Second, the idea of a 'designer' separate from a printer was apparently created by his example, though I'm sure others know more about this history. Third, and more minor, the revival specifically of the types of Griffo and Jenson was led by him, so all later revivals of these are influenced by his efforts, even when they reject his heavy style.

Another specific influence was his criticism of 'modern' types (Bodoni) and praise of 'old style', which led to specifically the revival of old style types.

There may well be stories about the influence of his style of illustration, and of his example of 'art book', but I don't know the stories.

eliason's picture

Another specific influence was his criticism of 'modern' types (Bodoni) and praise of 'old style', which led to specifically the revival of old style types.

Caslon's old style types were revived in 1843, when Morris would have been about 10. In ensuing years Morris certainly tipped the scales towards old style substantially, but his criticism wasn't the cause of the revival.

Nick Shinn's picture

A Day at LaGuerre’s by F. Hopkinson Smith, published in 1892 by Houghton Mifflin (Boston), is considered to have been the first American book to show the influence of Kelmscott. It was designed by D.B. Updike.

The Altar Book, Bertram Goodhue, type designer and decorator, printed by Updike, 1896, is pure Kelmscott.

But do you really mean typographer, or type designer?

The most direct influence Morris had in type design was published by ATF in 1893 and named “Jenson Old Style”, a plagiarization of the Golden Type. Here it is from an Ivory Snow ad in Ladies Home Journal, Christmas 1903 (left hand page). Note also the Morrisonian holly-patch on the editorial page.

Whereas Kelmscott books were upscale and printed in the hundreds, the Ladies Home Journal shown cost 15¢ and had a circulation of over three million.

William Berkson's picture

Craig, what I said is accurate. Caslon was first revived at the time you say, but it was only used for reprinting of old books, or books with stories set in old times. It was generally used only to create deliberate antique effect.

The early Chiswick press books reviving Caslon did attract attention, I think, for their readability, as well as beauty. The next step was the creation of 'Old Style,' which was very widely used. But it has generally 'modern' features, but reduced contrast, which looked 'old style' enough to Victorian eyes. It was only after printer Emery Walker, a friend of Morris's, gave a talk about the history of type, showing samples of old printing, that Morris became passionate about type revival and designing and printing his own books.

I did an article, 'Readability and Revival: The Case of Caslon,' for Printing History New Series no. 10 (July 2011), where you can read more of the story. William Peterson, who was editor then, and truly knowledgable of that period and its personalities, lives here in Washington DC, and was kind enough to share with me his research that is relevant to the story. So I think I got it right.

Morris was so much a taste and opinion leader that he changed the view of old styles, making them fashionable instead of quaint, and only after Morris did they start to be widely used. Morris wrote of "the sweltering hideousness of the Bodoni letter, the most illegible type that was ever cut, with its preposterous thicks and thins ..." I don't agree with Morris—though his passion is wonderful—but it seems that at the time if William Morris said something wasn't cool, it wasn't cool.

In America, for example, Vogue Magazine, started in 1892, adopted Caslon, and that started the Caslon popularity in the U.S. Emery Walker himself, if I remember rightly, preferred Caslon to Jenson.

eliason's picture

Agreed on the history as you've elaborated. I just thought it was worth clarifying that your original statement might be misunderstood as asserting that old-style revivals only came after Morris's input.

Nick Shinn's picture

I don’t think the dots connect quite so neatly, Bill.

It’s a bit of a stretch to call the Golden Type an old style, it’s more of a caricature, not a general purpose “readable old style” design.

Morris Benton at ATF produced several antiquarian styles, e.g. Roycroft and Bodoni, and the Arts and Crafts Cheltenham, and the functionalist Clearface, before he got around to reviving an old style (Cloister, his Jenson).

You won’t find true old style typefaces, other than sporadic Caslon, Golden Type knock-offs, and Della Robbia, widely used in the U.S. mass media until Goudy’s Kennerley in 1911 (not a revival), which was the game changer. In the UK, Imprint (1913) appears to have been the first new old style.

As you say, people were quite happy with “Old Style”. Morris Benton thought the readability road ahead was through Cheltenham, Century and Clearface, not old style.

So, while William Morris, D.B. Updike, Will Bradley, Walter Crane (Of the Decorative Illustration of Books) et al can be said to have stimulated the fashion for historicist graphic design and page layout in the late 1890s, it didn’t translate into the production of popular “readable old style” text faces during the first decade of the 20th century. If William Morris, who died in 1896, was so influential typographically, why the delay?

quadibloc's picture

Since Caslon was revived before Morris, while it's clear that Morris' own types were copied, that does indeed complicate the question of how much influence Morris had on the revivals of Baskerville and Garamond, and on the creation of such faces as Plantin or Poliphilus or Bembo.

Morris' revivals of Jenson were outliers, after all.

But many of the earliest revivals - Cloister Old Style, Centaur - not only were Jenson revivals too, but they were clearly influenced by Morris' Golden Type. Not in the sense of their content, as with Jenson Oldstyle, but in the sense that he called further attention to the merits of the first Roman type.

I did notice, though, a mention that the success of ATF's revival of Bodoni was one of the forces leading to Cloister Old Style. So there was an independent impetus to revival as well. Since the "butterfly effect" tells us history would turn out differently if even minor, seemingly irrelevant, things are changed, it's difficult to make the case that there was enough other impetus towards revival that without Morris it would still have happened the way it did.

So it could well be that if it weren't for William Morris, the Caslon revival and the Phemister old style would not have led to a Baskerville revival and then a Plantin revival... and so there would never have been a Times New Roman. (Despite it having been "bigoted and narrow, mean and Puritan" and thus not the sort of thing of which Morris would have approved, I suppose.)

William Berkson's picture

>If William Morris, who died in 1896, was so influential typographically, why the delay?

Except there wasn't a delay. As I said, Caslon was used by Vogue in 1992, and—here I am relying on Mac MacGrew's book American Metal Typefaces—this started the popularity of Caslon in America. This would be the 'McKellar' Caslon, a foundry type allegedly produced by electroplating originals. In England, George Bernard Shaw, who knew both Morris and Walker through Socialist circles, insisted on printing his plays in Caslon, before the turn of the century. You can see some of the story here.

This *general use* of Caslon I think dates after Walker and Morris were praising it. The general revival of old style types involves both Caslon and the Jenson that Morris copied, as well as many other types.

In America, certainly Theodore Lowe DeVinne was also an influence, criticizing the high contrast types of his time, and using his influence to reduce thick-thin contrast in the original Century type, commissioned for the magazine he printed. He gave a good review of Caslon in his Historical Printing Types, but I don't think he used Caslon himself, whereas a book by Morris was printed in Caslon in 1892, probably under the influence of Walker.

It is a general revaluation of older types that I think is the main influence of Morris, though the case is circumstantial; I can't prove that Morris was a key factor in changing typographic tastes, but when you look at the big picture, it sure looks that way. Of course it is ATF, Linotype, Monotype who use the pantographic punch cutter to do the revivals over next forty years.

Nick Shinn's picture

Bill, there *was* a delay.
Your argument is cherry-picked from second-hand sources.

Sure, there was some use of Caslon in literary circles.
But look at an assortment of mass-circulation magazines from the first decade of the 20th century.
The majority of text faces, in both editorial and advertising, will be Moderns, Old Style, and Cheltenham.

The idea that William Morris made true old style (antiqua) faces popular does not hold water.

It was Frederic Goudy’s dissatisfaction with the spotty nature of Caslon (caused by its heavy caps—see his narrative in Goudy’s Type Designs) that led him to produce Kennerley in 1911, which immediately became widely used, and was shortly followed by Goudy Old Style, and ATF’s Garamond and Cloister (Jenson) revivals.

Although Goudy had produced his Village and Light Old Style (E38) earlier, they were not yet fully realized old styles, and didn’t open the flood gates for the antiqua in the way that Kennerley did.

William Berkson's picture

Nick, your scenario that it was Goudy, not Morris doesn't wash, not least because Goudy was heavily influenced by Morris, as the wikipedia article on him notes. Goudy's Village, 1903—was it Goudy's first type?—was strongly influenced by Morris's Golden type. Goudy bought Morris's physical Kelmscott Press, and the first thing Goudy published on his own Village Press was an essay by Morris and Walker.

This story of going through a Morris phase, then rejecting it, but doing more sober historically influenced work, including revivals, happens again and again. Updike initially went through a phase of imitating Morris, producing the best book done in the US with a Morris aesthetic, according to Peterson. Then he rejected the Morris aesthetic, but did historical style printing, as the wikipedia article on him explains. And of course wrote his great history of types—but it started with Morris. Bruce Rogers got into book design because of seeing Morris's work. And of course Centaur is a Jenson-influenced type, though Rogers also rejected the heavy Morris aesthetic in .

Also people were doing revivals before 1911, so it wasn't Kennerley that suddenly turned the tide. Inland Type Foundry did a Caslon in 1901, which became the basis for Monotype's Caslon 337. And Monotype did a Caslon as early as 1903. ATF's Caslon 540 was 1902, and their Caslon 471 was before that. Lawson's book also tells the same story about Vogue in America, but more extensively, with more details about the influence of Vogue's use. Also the Doves type (1900), used by Walker's press, was influential, as Peterson documents. Morris was just all over the place, though you could argue it was equally Walker. The revival snowball was already rolling when Goudy started doing type.

quadibloc's picture

Earlier in this thread, we saw that Caslon was revived before Morris, not just before Goudy. That Goudy was influenced by Morris, though, while it shows that Morris must get some of the credit, doesn't itself show that Goudy didn't have an important role - although your other point, that Goudy wasn't the only typographer to be inspired by Morris, and then move on to more sober historical revivals is telling.

Giving Morris full credit seems odd, since his own revivals are so different from the other revivals that came after him. But seeing how Goudy, Rogers, and Updike reacted to their initial inspiration by Morris means that they get some of the credit too, because they produced revivals that would be more popular and that would stand the test of time. Without their contributions, Morris might have been seen as only an eccentric, rather than someone who was influential and even pivotal.

Nick Shinn's picture

Bill, you said:
“Morris was so much a taste and opinion leader that he changed the view of old styles, making them fashionable instead of quaint, and only after Morris did they start to be widely used.”
—but you haven’t studied the mass media of the day to see what was actually in fashion, instead relying on the skewed opinions of academics (under the assumption that this means you will “get it right”) and the evidence of specimen books—which tell only what was available, not what was popular.

The record is clear in large-circulation publications of the first decade of the 20th century—old style (antiqua) faces were not popular! (Other than the Old Style that originated c. 1850.)

Yes, after Morris old styles did start to be *widely* used, but only long after, and after the efforts of Goudy.

I don’t deny that “the ball was rolling”, as you say, but outside of the general fashion.
Bear in mind, the private presses were an incubator (which we can see with hindsight), a tiny market removed from the commercial mainstream.

I asked: Why the delay?

And I identified two reasons: firstly because the thinking, by those such as Morris Benton, about readability/legibility was towards ideas such as heavier weight and lower contrast (Century and Cheltenham) and clarity of form (Century and Clearface). I suspect that historicism was primarily an issue of authenticity for Benton, not a key to readability.

And secondly, it took Goudy a while to figure out what made the historical old style tick, how to make it work again, and for it to become popular through the “killer app” of Kennerley.

Isn’t it counter intuitive that a style hundreds of years old would have been considered to be efficient in the Progressive era? It took Goudy’s experiments with historical pastiche and text color to synthesize, through design, an attractive demonstration of a proposition that William Morris’ elitist typography had only hinted at, that the allure of the past could be a gateway to contemporary mass functionality.

William Berkson's picture

Nick, your point about the leadership and popularity is interesting and valid. But Vogue magazine was apparently huge, and that kind of thing is influential. Similarly with Shaw. The fact that it took time to build is not surprising. To see trends, you have to look over time. That something started small is not unusual. Also people like Lawson and Peterson looked at a lot of literature of the time. I don't think they deserve your disparaging remarks.

John, I agree that the credit should be spread around. The earlier efforts of the Chiswick Press were also important, and all those people, including Goudy, were a part of what created the change. I'm not saying that Goudy didn't have an impact, Nick, but I think when you track it, Morris (or Walker-Morrison) is more of an inflection point. Of course the inflection point also coincided with the invention of the pantographic punch cutter, which enabled revivals to be made much more cheaply, I think. So that may have equally been a factor.

By the way, on readability, I think it was Theodore Lowe DeVinne's critique of high contrast which was the influence. Benton the father did the first version of Century, following DeVinne's guidance. Later with M.F. Benton's Clearface, an effort to be highly readable, I think the influence was some research of the time.

5star's picture

This is coolio discussion, I'm learning tons!

I first became aware of Morris through a mention from Wright (Frank Lloyd) something to do with the Arts & Crafts movement ...but I read that Morris was a lot more than associated with textiles and such.

He must of had a more than few people working for him.

Nick Shinn's picture

Bill, I’m extremely cynical of academic histories which construct narratives far removed from what occurred in the mainstream of commercial culture.

I admit my bias, having been an art director in an advertising agency.

When someone says “this was the fashion”, and it wasn’t, I just ask that they survey the mass media of the the time and place. Have you actually looked at ladies Home Journal, Colliers and Saturday Evening Post from the 1900s and tallied which typefaces were prevalent in their editorial and advertising matter? These were the publications which defined the culture.

Birdseeding's picture

Nick, is it possible people are talking about two distinct conceptions of fashion here?

There's a famous quote by Brian Eno about The Velvet Underground: "Their first album only sold 30,000 copies, but everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band". A relatively small group of fans bought an album from 1967 (when the Velvet Underground was unusual), and precipitated a change that hit the mainstream ten or fifteen years later (when they were less so). This sort of thing isn't that strange, really: You have a small group of cognoscenti devotees of a particular style carrying on a line of thought different from the mainstream – and then at some point fashion changes and they're suddenly in the middle of it.

So in this case it's perfectly possible some later-influential designers had a cult-figure Morris devotion going on, which bloomed into fashion when other trends ended up in a similar area. It may even have been fashionable in a smaller context, like the art world (there's plenty of examples of Morris-style lettering there), without breaking throught into the mainstream. It's not like the styling of today's graphic design avant-garde, to compare, is the same as its mainstream equivalent, though both are "in fashion" in distinct senses.

quadibloc's picture

@Birdseeding:
Given that Goudy was inspired by Morris, your explanation is indeed the one that clarifies things.

Since Goudy was recognized as a very talented type designer who produced many typefaces of immense and enduring popularity, while the types Morris designed largely remained quaint curiosities, it's natural to want to give Goudy instead of Morris credit for a major development in typography.

By pointing out that Jenson Old Style made it to the Ladies Home Journal, of course, Nick Shinn might have refuted his own point. But I didn't feel that way until Nick Shinn's latest post just before yours. In 1900, a lot of typefaces were popular that hardly anyone would have considered in 1950 or today.

The revival phenomenon that needs to be explained is the series of revivals including those of Baskerville and Garamond, involving both ATF and (British) Monotype.

The candidate inspirations are:

The revival of Caslon, which is known to have led to Phemister old style.

Morris' revival of Jenson's type as Golden.

Goudy's creation of Kennerley.

Anatomy of a Typeface notes that Bembo was the last of the initial group of Monotype revivals, and that it came out in 1929. It specifically takes the position that this was engendered by William Morris and the private press movement. As well, it is noted that Monotype created a version of Centaur... and Bruce Rogers does seem to have been inspired by Morris.

In my earlier post, I noted, in effect, that if none of those 30,000 people buying the Velvet Underground album had musical talent, then the Velvet Underground would not have been influential. Which is why I felt there was room for those who felt that the 'real' credit should go to Goudy or Rogers. And, of course, someone had to figure that it was worth reviving Garamond and Baskerville in addition to Jenson and Aldus: that decision changed revivals from being something for artistic books to something that impinged on general publishing.

Nick Shinn's picture

Yes, we are talking about two worlds here, mass culture and metaculture (the trade subculture of those who make mass culture).

What I am contesting is Bill’s conflation of the two.
This is a hobby horse of mine! (See my article in Codex 3 for an elaboration.)
Bill said that William Morris’ revival of Jenson made old styles fashionable and widely used, with the subtext that their superior readability was involved (a hobby horse of his!)
However, I have a collection of mass circulation magazines from the early 1900s, and the text type styles which are fashionable in them, and widely used, are not old styles.
That is why I disparage his version of history, which follows the academic narrative centered on elite documents (from private presses) and metaculture or trade publications (e.g. type foundry specimens).

“if none of those 30,000 people buying the Velvet Underground album had musical talent, then the Velvet Underground would not have been influential

I bought the Velvets’ first album, and although I didn’t start a band, I did go to art school, for which it may have been partly responsible. I should also point out that if one adopts the Velvets as a precursor to punk, then their significance is the *lack* of musical talent required to bash it out like Sister Ray!

William Berkson's picture

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William Berkson's picture

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William Berkson's picture

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William Berkson's picture

Nick, I look forward to reading your Codex article.

However, advertising is not the only thing printed, and I think your high handed rejection of whatever isn't in advertising is ridiculous. You know, there were such a thing as books, and a lot of people read them. It may well be that books led the way on the adoption of Caslon, though Vogue (1892) was, I believe a hugely popular magazine—and of course still around.

And the adoption of Caslon, and then other revival old styles, for general use, not just antiquarian effect, was, as I said, crucially influenced by Walker and Morris. And Caslon revivals were being churned out and sold by ATF and Monotype well before Kennerley in 1911. For example, Frederic Warde, writing in 1925 about Bruce Rogers relates that seeing Morris "came as a revelation" to Rogers and changed his whole way of thinking about books. Rogers is known for using Caslon a lot, starting in 1897 (see the bibliography in the linked book), and had a special version of Caslon cast for his use on the Monotype machine, Riverside Caslon, in 1909. Daniel Berkeley Updike purchased Caslon in 1904. Updike was probably the biggest Caslon fan ever, and printed 14,000 items over his career, many of them using Caslon. His Marymount press, even though it specialized in fine editions, was commercial and also did a lot of other work. The point is, judging by the most revered and influential book designers, the Caslon freight train was going full speed before Goudy ever did Kennerley, and the popularity of Caslon with these taste leaders was itself an invitation to revive other old styles, quite apart from Goudy's work. And these guys who actually did the revivals sure knew about Rogers and Updike. Oh, and I believe, Stanley Morrison, who did the later revivals with Monotype England, despised Goudy and his work. (I like some of Goudy.)

So your idea about Kennerley leading the way for old style revivals isn't consistent with the facts of book history. And by the 20s, I know I can find many, many ads in Caslon. Not least in The New Yorker, which started in 1926, if I remember rightly. And it used in its text Linotype Caslon Old Face—not Kennerley. And it still uses versions of Caslon, including, er, mine. So John's story of the Velvet Underground is very much on point, with Morris as the Velvet Underground, Rogers and Updike as in the first wave of those influenced, and popular taste in advertising following. And Caslon had it own momentum, apart from Goudy.

William Berkson's picture

Ps. I didn't say that Morris's revivals of Jenson were particularly readable. I don't think they were. My view is that part of the attraction of Caslon in particular, after its first 1844 book revival, was its readability. I think the subsequent creation of Old Style, the comments of DeVinne and later Updike lend credibility to this idea, which I argue in my Printing History article. I think Walker appreciated Caslon much more than Morris, whose influence was more general in the direction of the value of revivals.

I am not disparaging the importance of advertising. But I do think it didn't drive the train of old style revival. Walker and Morris, Vogue Magazine, and then the book designers did.

Nick Shinn's picture

Bill, you introduced the idea of what was “fashionable” and “widely used”.

I don’t believe that it is high-handed to reject the idea that those qualities are represented by the small market of expensive books. Rather, it is elitist to base design history on that economic sector.

It’s not advertising per se that I am suggesting represented fashion and usage during the first decade of the 20th century, but mass circulation publications, both culturally and economically.

quadibloc's picture

Of course, that's Caslon, and we already know that Caslon was revived before Morris got started. If I'm wrong, and it's Phemister's oldstyle... I see that his activity in the revival of oldstyles dates from the 1850s, which I think puts him ten years ahead of Morris, who was still only a student then.

But Caslon plus Phemister does not equal a full-scale revival movement that also encompasses Baskerville and Garamond and Bembo.

So even if your Life magazine page is not evidence of Morris influence on the masses, something remains to be accounted for that seems to point to Morris.

William Berkson's picture

Thanks, Chris. Yes, I see looking at McGrew that Linotype's Caslon (not Caslon Oldface) was in 1903, and Intertype, a competitor to Linotype had one at the same time. So the Life Magazine is probably in one of those. As to what is "fashionable," Nick, I haven't done a study of the advertising of that day, but if Vogue used a Caslon in 1892 and Life magazine was using it in 1906, I would say that is probably evidence of its further use in text of magazines. By 'fashionable' I meant, as I indicated above, that it was regarded as 'cool' by taste leaders of the time, such as the owners of Vogue, who wanted to use a real old style (not Phemister's Old Style, which DeVinne had slammed in Historical Printing Types). As to its use in advertising, which I grant you is also a kind of 'fashionable' I don't know.

You're right that I haven't studied magazines of the period, but your story, above is very off target. You wrote:

"You won’t find true old style typefaces, other than sporadic Caslon, Golden Type knock-offs, and Della Robbia, widely used in the U.S. mass media until Goudy’s Kennerley in 1911 (not a revival), which was the game changer. In the UK, Imprint (1913) appears to have been the first new old style."

Caslon was not "sporadic". On the contrary there was a race to have it, with all the leading foundries—ATF, Linotype, Monotype, Intertype—having to have it, and actually even multiple versions, before Kennerley was drawn. And we know of at least two popular magazines that were using it. And by the effort the foundries put into it, I would still bet that there was much wider use as well in books and the text of magazines. In any case, Kennerley was not a "game changer". Indeed, as you said, Goudy was trying to do an old style to improve on Caslon, which was already by 1911 seen as one of the best models. The game changers were Walker and Morris.

Here is the testimony in 1920 (from my article, and thanks to Peterson's prior research) of Charles T. Jacobi, who was for long editor of the Chiswick Press, which had first revived and used Caslon extensively, though for an antique look: "the excellent design of these different founts was not generally appreciated until about the year 1888, when the Arts and Crafts Society first came into existence, and Mr. Emery Walker was perhaps more responsible than anyone else for making known this series of faces." Walker was the innovator in seeing old styles as suitable for contemporary use, but the famous Morris, who took up the lance, was the force that spread the idea.

Nick Shinn's picture

@Bill: You're right that I haven’t studied magazines of the period.

I rest my case.

William Berkson's picture

On your historical case for Goudy instead of Morris being the 'game changer' on type revivals. I think you're mixing up "resting," and "dead" :)

quadibloc's picture

@William Berkson:
You wrote:

"You won’t find true old style typefaces, other than sporadic Caslon, Golden Type knock-offs,

Well, an example of Caslon in Life Magazine, and an example of a Golden Type knock-off in Ladies' Home Journal, do not add up to a refutation of what Nick Shinn wrote in that case. To claim otherwise risks making oneself look ridiculous. (Caslon, however, indeed may not have been "sporadic", as you noted - that is a valid point.)

But when did he say that, and can we accuse him of moving the goalposts?

The point is, it is true the "real" revivals, like Garamond and Baskerville from ATF, did post-date Goudy. That fact, though, doesn't mean he wins the argument, because it's been plausibly claimed that Morris influenced Goudy.

The modern history of Garamond dates from 1825, when the French Imprimerie Nationale dug up the old Charactere de l'Universite. So the question is, what came of it prior to Kennerley?

William Berkson's picture

How are all the revivals of Caslon, including by ATF, not 'real', but those of Garamond and Baskerville were 'real'? I don't understand what you mean by 'real'.

And as to 'sporadic,' I didn't just refer to Life. I mentioned Vogue, which both Lawson and MacGrew say led to popularity of Caslon in the US. And I mentioned both Bruce Rogers and D.B. Updike, who are said to have designed a lot of books in Caslon. But above all, I just can't believe all four major foundries were idiots spending huge time doing versions of Caslon for no demand. And Linotype spent four years 1919-23 doing specific drawings of every character in every size of Caslon. That is after Goudy's Kennerley, but I never heard that Chauncy Griffith at Linotype had any particular love for Goudy, and I don't even think they published a single Goudy design, though they did do revivals.

By the way, who else besides Nick thinks that Kennerley drove the train? My view, that Walker and Morris led the change in taste, that Jenson revivals and Caslon came next, and the rest later climbing on the bandwagon is I think consistent with the view of other historians, and the facts that I know. Did Goudy ever say that his Kennerley influenced Linotype, Monotype, and ATF to do revivals? Is there any opinion from anybody of the time that says this? What's the evidence?

By the way, ATF, having done several Caslon revivals already, did a Bodoni revival—Benton worked on it—from 1910 to 1911, when Goudy was working on Kennerley. That is not an old style, but it is a revival. The point is that the whole revival movement comes arguably from Walker and Morris, and the invention of the Pantographic Punch Cutter by Benton the father. The idea that it comes from Goudy, who was one of the followers, and specifically from Kennerley, is to me a non-starter. The ball had been rolling for 20 years by then.

quadibloc's picture

I should have been more careful in indicating what I was seeking to clarify.

I think it is a defensible position to take the series of revivals at Monotype, and note that they are clearly linked to the revivals of Garamond and Baskerville at ATF, but then to treat those revivals as a separate phenomenon from the revival of Caslon, which took place much earlier.

Because Caslon's revival took place so much earlier, it can't be the only cause of those later revivals. (And if it was, since Caslon's revival preceded Morris' activity, this would also disprove the claim that Morris was pivotal.)

That is all I meant when I referred to the later revivals as "real"; I meant they were the ones of interest, as part of a broad movement to revive numerous typefaces; I was not trying to disparage Caslon's revival.

Excluding Caslon, which came along too early to be to Morris' credit, and excluding Morris' own specific revival, the Golden Type, we have a bunch of revivals that did take place in a post-Goudy time frame. People who didn't like Goudy's types (I like some of them, the most popular ones, but I admit I'm not myself a fan of much of his output) could still have been influenced by him at second hand.

So, to me, the question is: was there really a big gap when while there were some oldstyle types - Caslon, Jenson Oldstyle, and Phemister's Old Style - nothing much else happened until ATF revived Garamond and Baskerville, which would support, from a timing viewpoint, Nick Shinn's argument?

Or were there other revivals, or at least other indications of interest in earlier typefaces, in the time span following Morris' Golden Type, that show that it wasn't just a flash in the pan that would have led nowhere until an important later event - such as Kennerley by Goudy. (If someone else takes Nick Shinn's point of view, but sees another person, instead of Goudy, as the one to credit, they're welcome to come forward.)

Nick Shinn's picture

More on Kennerley as killer app:

It was Goudy’s most successful type design, in terms of sales.
So it was huge.
It was the first American typeface to be sold in Europe (Monotype licensed it).
It was Goudy’s first big commission.
Prior to Kennerley the state of the art in antiqua or old style design was Caslon, “Old Style” and some private press Jensons. Nothing new in the way of old.

But most importantly for the old style revivals that would follow, Kennerley presented a newly (or rediscovered) stringent concept of fit.
As Goudy described it, “What was wrong with Caslon? I had by this time decided that the pages presented a spotty appearance, largely due to the strong contrast in color between the capitals and the lower-case, and partly due to the wide fitting of the letters themselves, making it impossible to present each word as a compact unit, which I felt was desirable, for only if each word is a compact unit can close spacing between words be used.”

Goudy would subsequently employ this concept of tight fit in his Goudy Old Style, and in Italian Oldstyle, which took it to the max.

You can see it in the sequence “p_e_a” here. The pointedly diagonal stress which Goudy attributes to the old style enables these three letters to be butted up against one another, without creating a clot between “p” and “e”. That’s how Jenson did it. And it’s how Morris Benton did it in Cloister, his Jenson.

As a new typeface which demonstrated a theoretical principle, I believe that Kennerley was instrumental in opening typographers’ eyes to the look and potential of the old style. There were other related memes and connections in play too in the first few years of the century, such as the method of Edward Johnston with broad-pen lettering, influential on Eric Gill, who worked with St. John Hornby of the Ashendene Press, who also owned WH Smith & Sons, for whom Gill produced a corporate identity utilising a special “old style” lettering style he designed. Again, note the combination of diagonal stress and tight fit.

I rest my case…

William Berkson's picture

John, I guess I haven't been sufficiently clear, so let me have a go at it again. Caslon got general notice after the revival by William Pickering, publisher, and Charles Whittington, printer at the Chiswick Press. The book that first got notice was Lady Willoughby's Diary, 1844. There were subsequent Chiswick Press editions using Caslon, but, and this is the important point, they were always of old books or books set in old times. They were used for antique effect. So far as know, nobody put them to general use for books, magazines, or for that matter advertising, before Walker brought them to attention of Morris, and through both their efforts to the rest of the English speaking world.

For Lady Willoughby's Diary, it was not strictly speaking a revival; it was actually actually old fonts of foundry type stored at the Caslon Foundry, pulled out after long neglect. The first time you have actual recutting of old types—always with some changes—is with Morris. And *immediately* (in 1893) you get ATF doing a Jenson/Morris knock-off. And as early at 1897 you get a Caslon recutting, and then a whole bunch of new versions of Caslon beginning in the new century. And they are being used in popular magazines, Vogue in 1892, and Life, as we have seen from at least 1906. Further, both Bruce Rogers and Daniel Berkeley Updike are using revival versions, including Rogers' custom version for the Riverside Press. And you have good Jensons with the Doves type (1901, I think) by Cobden-Anderson, who had worked with Morris, and Centaur (1913) from Rogers, who was originally inspired by Morris. The actual recutting of old types with revisions, including at ATF only begins with Morris. That's why I say that he was the 'inflection point'.

And Goudy is aware of all this, and specifically is trying to 'fix' Caslon in his Kennerley, as he says in Nick's quote.

Now you have both a bunch of Caslons and Jensons by 1911, and the revival of Bodoni by ATF in 1910-11 by Benton. Then in 1913 you have Plantin, done at Monotype England. Here Frank Hinman Pierpont says the 1913 revival is because he saw the fonts displayed at the Plantin Moretus Museum. And you have Centaur also in 1913. Now you've already had real revivals rolling for twenty years. So what is the evidence that Pierpont and Rogers were influenced by Goudy's success? I suspect the answer is none. That's why the story of Goudy influencing Monotype England to do revivals is unconvincing to me. Also when you get Morrison on board, he and Goudy apparently did the Garamond revivals at the same time, and he disparaged both Garamont and Goudy. So was he influenced by Goudy? Not likely.

William Berkson's picture

I somehow missed Johan's (birdseeding) post above. Yes, Nick has a different concept of 'fashionable', applying to advertising. That is an interesting approach, and I look forward to reading his article. However, the spread of actual printing with revivals, even if advertising came later, does show that the revival train was chugging away before Goudy's work in 1911. I wasn't conflating different senses of 'fashionable' as not looking at advertising at all. So I am happy for Nick's notice of this work, and look forward to reading his article. But it doesn't change the type revival story in the late 19th and first half of the 20th century. Putting Goudy at the center, rather than Morris, I just don't think is supported by the evidence.

As to fixing Caslon, absolutely everybody does it who has revived Caslon, including me. Generally people do reduce the weight of the caps, and do tighter spacing. I also reduced the weight of the caps (so did Carol Twombly for Adobe, but made them very tall), but for the text size I kept the looser spacing, as for me that was 'a feature, not a bug.' But as I have written, Caslon is a kind of Rorschach test for every revival of it: we see different 'good' Caslons and 'mistakes' in it. The same kind of thing happens with every revival, though probably more with pre-Baskerville types than after.

John Hudson's picture

With regard to the Chiswick Press, I used to have a couple of their books from c.1904, i.e. after the influence of Kelmscott on the private press movement. They were set in a large size of Caslon, massively over-inked, presumably to make it look heavy like a Kelmscott type. Quite perverse.

quadibloc's picture

@William Berkson:
And Goudy is aware of all this, and specifically is trying to 'fix' Caslon in his Kennerley, as he says in Nick's quote.

I must be losing track here, because I thought Kennerley was a Jenson, not a Caslon.

The argument is that Goudy was the inflection point; so despite Stanley Morison being uninterested in Goudy, since the Monotype revivals were presumably triggered by the ATF revivals of Garamond and Baskerville... the question is whether or not Goudy was critical to those having happened, or whether they or something similar would have happened in any case because of the momentum started by Morris.

Morris had followers, and one of them was Goudy. Already, Nick Shinn's argument is in deep trouble. Unless the efforts of Rogers, de Vinne, and so on would not have yielded much fruit by themselves, while Goudy alone among those Morris inspired had a major lasting influence.

To answer this question, I think we need to get into the mind of Linn Boyd Benton.

In researching this topic, I happen to have learned that de Vinne played a major role with respect to Century Expanded. That type becoming hugely popular would very likely have sent a message that a Baskerville revival was worthwhile without Goudy's help... this is the direction I think an argument aimed at refuting Nick Shinn's position must take.

William Berkson's picture

John (Quadibloc). Yes, I always thought that Goudy did Goudy Old Style, not Kennerley, in an effort to update Caslon. But I don't have time to check on it, having spent entirely too much time on this thread, though it's been fun :)

Oh, DeVinne was involved in the original version of Century. I think all the later versions of Century are from Morris Fuller Benton, the son...

Just skimming my article in Printing History, I had forgotten: Walker refers to DeVinne, so his Historic Printing Types—an astonishingly astute evaluation of type for its time and on the internet—may have been the origin of the whole revival movement. The story may have been DeVinne to Walker to Morris to the world.

Nick Shinn's picture

Gentlemen, you misrepresent me.
I’m not proposing Goudy as an instigator or inflection point, whatever that is.
I’m simply asking why, if Morris was so influential, the old style revival took so long after Kelmscott to produce any new old style faces—Caslon, as revival, having been around since Lady Willoughby.
And Caslon is an 18th century design, not Renaissance or Medieval, which was really Morris’ obsession.

The other antiquarian elements of Morris’ graphic design had been well taken up.
Can you deny that Kennerley was the first really successful new old style, in 1911?
I think it’s legitimate to term such success as “game changer”, and to connect it to Goudy’s demonstration of smooth, tight fit, and in a face with Venetian “e”—that’s about as old style as it gets!

And if, Bill, you are going to assert that old styles had wide usage, surely that must mean in mass-circulation magazines and newspapers?

William Morris was a Great Man and makes a good academic narrative, but he didn’t have a monopoly on nostalgia. He got into printing late in his career.
The idea that historic style was only used for historic documents is at odds with 19th century currents of design.
In the field of children’s literature, for example, designer-illustrators such as Kate Greenaway and Randolph Caldecott were producing nostalgic graphic picture books before Kelmscott, some of them set in Caslon. The text and subject matter of these children’s books was from earlier times, but their conception was contemporary, they were considered archetypal and ideal—following a sentiment of anti-industrialization—as the idea of progressive modernism had yet to emerge.
And Walter Crane, for Edmund Evans, before his association with William Morris.
This from 1882.

Another parallel thread, in America, was that of Colonial revivalism. Well known in architecture, but not without cachet in print.

William Berkson's picture

Nick, that's that's interesting about the Children's books. I didn't know Caslon had been used there.

You ask: "if Morris was so influential, the old style revival took so long after Kelmscott to produce any new old style faces—Caslon, as revival, having been around since Lady Willoughby."

I think our disagreement is may be due to meaning different things by 'revival'. A recutting or fairly close reinterpretation of a specific older face to me is a revival. So Kennerley is not a revival, it is a new face, not taken directly from any single model—as his Garamont was intended to be. Why only then was a new design in the old style made? That's because designers as original as Goudy are rare. I do see your point that he was taking old styles a new direction, and he was influential that way. That's fair enough, but I don't think Kennerley or for that matter Goudy Old Style are revivals of any specific typeface.

Caslon's revivals came after Morris, the way I mean revival. Before that it was just reusing Caslon for limited purposes. After Morris, you have recuttings and reinterpretations, not just re-use. And yes, you have use in mass-circulation magazines such as Vogue and Life, which I don't think was true before, and that has been my main point. Also books count too, including those of Rogers and Updike. Newspapers have been on their own track for a long time, and I'm doubtful that those adopted any old styles until Times New.

Also I wrote initially in this thread about revivals of old type, not only old style. The Bodoni revival by Benton is part of the movement started by Morris, even though he hate Bodoni. The influence of Morris to me isn't his specific aesthetic, but both the idea of revivals, and the high art of the Kelmscott Chaucer, which raised the bar on people's ambitions for what could be done with books.

William Berkson's picture

Nick, that's that's interesting about the Children's books. I didn't know Caslon had been used there.

You ask: "if Morris was so influential, the old style revival took so long after Kelmscott to produce any new old style faces—Caslon, as revival, having been around since Lady Willoughby."

I think our disagreement is may be due to meaning different things by 'revival'. A recutting or fairly close reinterpretation of a specific older face to me is a revival. So Kennerley is not a revival, it is a new face, not taken directly from any single model—as his Garamont was intended to be. Why only then was a new design in the old style made? That's because designers as original as Goudy are rare. I do see your point that he was taking old styles a new direction, and he was influential that way. That's fair enough, but I don't think Kennerley or for that matter Goudy Old Style are revivals of any specific typeface.

Caslon's revivals came after Morris, the way I mean revival. Before that it was just reusing Caslon for limited purposes. After Morris, you have recuttings and reinterpretations, not just re-use. And yes, you have use in mass-circulation magazines such as Vogue and Life, which I don't think was true before, and that has been my main point. Also books count too, including those of Rogers and Updike. Newspapers have been on their own track for a long time, and I'm doubtful that those adopted any old styles until Times New Roman.

Also I wrote initially in this thread about revivals of old type, not only old style. The Bodoni revival by Benton is part of the movement started by Morris, even though he hate Bodoni. The influence of Morris to me isn't his specific aesthetic, but both the idea of revivals, and the high art of the Kelmscott Chaucer, which raised the bar on people's ambitions for what could be done with books.

quadibloc's picture

Ah, here we are.

Kennerley is named after Michael Kennerley, having been designed for a book of short stories by H. G. Wells which he printed.

In "Monotype: A Journal of Composing-Room Efficiency", in the issue on-line which chronicles the origin of Kennerley, we have;

"During the fifty years that followed the revived use of Caslon's type by the Wittinghams there is little else to record about the designs of type used for printing books, until about the year 1890, when William Morris set himself to design type, fired thereto by a lecture given by Mr. Emery Walker on the work of the early printers, to which he had listened."

This from "British Types for Printing Books" by B. H. Newdigate in "The Art of the Book", reprinted therein as "History of Book Types & Fonts of Some Private Presses".

That book also notes that originally Caslon was considered for the book, but Goudy sought a typeface that would give a darker color to the page without making the letters bolder, and this he achieved through the close fit of the letters in Kennerley.

And from that I've learned something else, unless we're dealing with a different typeface of the same name. I thought Imprint was a revised Caslon by the British Monotype firm, but that article says:

"One or two admirable faces of type have, however, been produced by the Lanston Monotype Company for setting by the monotype machine. One of these is the 'Imprint' type, adapted from one of the founts used by Christopher Plantin, the famous printer of Antwerp, in the late sixteenth century."

Ah: I see I may have been mixed up; the American firm was the Lanston Monotype Machine Company, while the British firm was the Lanston Monotype Corporation, according to "Anatomy of a Typeface". So that could have been either... or Lawson could have gotten it slightly wrong too.

Also, the first Benton revival, of Bodoni, dated from 1909, which makes it relatively close to Morris.

William Berkson's picture

That quote is wrong, Imprint is a modified Caslon, with shorter descenders and more uniformity in design. By the way, the date—1912 or 13—and the involvement of Edward Johnston, according to the Jaspert encyclopedia of typefaces, indicates to me that, again, the leading model was Caslon, and the question, which Goudy was also asking, was how to improve on it. Imprint is still a very impressive face, if a little dull.

quadibloc's picture

I think it's very important for typefaces to be beautiful instead of ugly, and to be readable. But I don't think it's necessary for a type to be an old style instead of a modern to have these attributes.

As I've noted, the earlier Scotch Romans were wider and darker in color, and thus pleasing, but the narrower and lighter ones that came later are the ones I did not like. Century Expanded, while it has some transitional characteristics - its serifs are bracketed - is basically an attractive Scotch Roman.

Why were the unattractive Scotch Romans tolerated for so long?

There are many possible answers.

Initially, the Scotch Roman faces took over because they did not include the long s; at the time, if a book was set in Caslon, it kept the long s.

Maybe the Scotch Romans looked nice to the people at the time; judging things by current aesthetic standards may be wrong.

The Scotch Romans became narrower to save space; given the cost of paper and printing, those faces were in use because books set in the kinds of face we would prefer would not be competitive.

I suspect the third answer is what explains the situation, deplorable to our eyes, continuing for so long - and the first is also true, explaining how it got started.

If Scotch Romans were what people were used to, and the initial designs were attractive and readable, why not just go back to them when economic conditions changed, and people could afford to pay more for paper and ink to spare themselves eyestrain?

To me, that's the question that I find perplexing. And thus, I don't find it too odd that William Morris may get the credit for the oldstyle revival. If economic conditions made room for more attractive types, and printers who filled that demand wanted their types which used more ink and paper to be visibly different, so they would get the credit for what they were doing that added to the cost of their product -

that is, when you make something more expensive, you want customers to be able to see at a glance that they're getting better quality for their money -

then instead of using a more generously proportioned Scotch Roman, they will seize on any model they have to hand for a text type that people will accept even though it's distinguishable at a glance from what they're used to.

Even if it's a Jenson previously used by the most elite and eccentric of private presses! Or, in the opposite direction, a pseudo-oldstyle that sticks a few of the features of Caslon on a Scotch Roman body - to take a more jaundiced view of the Phemister oldstyle than I normally feel justfied in taking.

Kennerley is more of a Jenson than the Golden Type and its Jenson Oldstyle imitator were. So it contributed to the later Cloister Oldstyle to some extent, I'm sure. It was used in books, and to our eyes today, it looks like something worth using in a book - unlike Jenson Oldstyle and Phemister Old Style, for different reasons. But while it was the first modern revival, since Jenson Oldstyle already made Jenson visible, ATF could well have made something very like Cloister anyways; they knew what Jenson really looked like, and given that the Ladies' Home Journal would even use Jenson Oldstyle, there was a demand out there for distinctive premium body copy faces, which typefounders could most easily fill with revivals.

So I feel I'm now in agreement with Nick Shinn on two points:

Kennerly was the first really successful new old style.

William Morris' immediate direct influence on popular culture was limited. (As the Ladies' Home Journal shows, not nonexistent, but his influence at least took time to be felt.)

Cheltenham was a typeface widely used in advertising in the time period of interest. Cheltenham and Bookman (also by Phemister) are typefaces that have stayed around; Cheltenham was in the Kelsey catalog, and it was on phototypesetters. Bookman was on phototypesetters, and it was one of the earliest typefaces to be made available for laser printers, back when laser printer fonts were made of dots instead of outlines.

While Kennerley dates from 1911 (from ATF? or did people buy fonts direct from Goudy?) it wasn't until 1920 that it was available on Monotype composing machines. That's when the popular taste got ahold of Kennerley, and sent a loud and clear signal that Kennerley was preferred to Cheltenham or Bookman as a text face replacement for Scotch Roman.

Oops. Benton revived Bodoni in 1909, and Garamond in 1917. So although I think the real pivotal influence is a change in economic conditions, this seems to point away from Goudy as being the inflection point.

Except, of course, that Bodoni and Garamond also took time to make the jump to the composing machine... so there could still have been earlier feedback from Kennerley from how popular it was with advertisers.

Oops. Kennerley was from 1911. 1909 is before 1911.

Fournier's picture

The revival of Bodoni by Benton interested many people at the time. In France, the Parisian publisher Gallimard got a license to use Benton's Bodoni for their Collection Blanche* book started in 1911.

* White Collection.

quadibloc's picture

I encountered this web page,

http://www.clevelandart.org/research/in-the-library/collection-in-focus/frederic-william-goudy-glorifier-alphabet

which quotes Goudy's obituary in the New York Times as taking a definite stance on the matter:

Mr. Goudy did more to rescue typography from standardized ugliness than any other man since William Morris, whose spiritual descendant he was.

Fritz Swanson's picture

So, this is a great and lively discussion. Thanks for having it. I've been deep into reading about Morris, and like Fournier, I have also wondered about the extent of his influence. Because this thread has focused heavily on Type Design, I was wondering if anyone had more to say on Typography and book design, and Morris' impact there. Put more specifically, what impact did Hubbard and the Roycroft press have, if any, on the dissemination of the Morris book design theories? If the question is why did it take so many years to get from Morris (1896) to a lot of historicist design in later years, wouldn't Hubbard (and Dard Hunter, et al at the Roycroft press) also be part of that story? [The question is humbly submitted]

quadibloc's picture

Incidentally, I came across something else that supports William Morris as being the major influence, with Goudy, among others, being inspired by him.

The Golden type has perhaps fared worse in being remodelled in the United States, whence, with much of its character lost, it has found its way back to England under the names 'Venetian,' 'Italian,' & 'Jenson.' It is strange that no one has yet had the good sense to have the actual type of Nicholas Jenson reproduced.

And that Kennerley was a Jenson, of course, makes me wonder if Goudy took the hint.

Fritz Swanson's picture

The Roycroft Mark is essentially Jenson's printer's mark.

William Berkson's picture

Fritz, just saw your question now. The book The Kelmscott Press by William S. Peterson includes a discussion of Hubbard and the Roycroft press. He said that it did have some impact, in spite of the books being 'tasteless' imitations, in Peterson's view. May Morris referred to him as "that obnoxious imitator of my dear father."

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