Robert Hunter Middleton, 1898-1985
Robert Middleton was born in 1898 in Glasgow, Scotland. In 1908 he emigrated to the U. S. and in 1922 was a student at the School of the Art Institute under Ernst Detterer. Together Detterer and Middleton began working on a typeface based on the Roman of 1470 by Nicolas Jenson called Eusebius. The typeface design was later commissioned by Ludlow Typograph and upon graduation Middleton went to work for Ludlow. There he learned matrice cutting from Robert Wiebking and in 1933 became head of the type design department.
Along with Detterer and Oswald Cooper, Middleton was one of the founding members of the Society of Typographic Arts and was the first secretary of the organization. He was also a founding member of the 27 Chicago Designers. Along with Herbert Bayer and others he helped to found the Aspen Design Conference.
Middleton was also a collector of wood engravings by Thomas Bewick. When a dealer bought a collection of Thomas Bewick’s wood engravings Middleton convinced him to sell them in smaller lots so they would be available to interested collectors. Middleton himself purchased several. He had been operating his own private press, the Cherryburn Press, and discovered how to print Bewick’s illustrations on the hand press.
He was also interested in paste papers for book binding and had accumulated over 150 designs for binding papers and had a sample book of the designs which he could reproduce. Middleton also learned punch cutting from Victor Hammer and later completed the Andromaque face after Hammer had died.
Archives of Middleton’s work are included in the Newberry Library, Special Collections at University of Illinois at Chicago, and the Art Institute of Chicago.
Among typefaces designed by Middleton:
Eusebius, Tempo, Karnak, Mayfair, Eden, Stellar (an early stressed sans predating Optima), Delphian, Umbra, Mandate, Garamond, Bodoni, Cameo, Ludlow Black, Lafayette, Bodoni Campanile, Coronet Bold and Light, and Radiant.