One of the artists whose works we’ve been acquiring actively in the last couple of years is influential arts and crafts era illustrator, author and designer Walter Crane. Crane’s childrens books, illustrated classics and collections of Shakespearean woodcuts are outstanding examples of the best of work of the artist as craftsman and are characterized by both technical skill and a unique retrospective vision which typefies the best of the late 19th century Arts and Crafts movement.
Although not as recognized today or as great a critical success, in many ways Crane outshines even the great William Morris. While his written works are not as highly regarded as Morris’ poems and novels and he never made the same kind of mark in interior design (though his wallpaper designs are arguably much more inventive than any of Morris’ work), Crane’s artistic and literary output was enormous, and his success in taking the arts and crafts style into the commericial mass market was remarkable. Crane had the attention to detail which is the mark of the true craftsman. He wrote, designed, illustrated and often hand lettered his books and even had a hand in the printing, binding and publishing in many cases. Crane made it his goal to produce remarkable illustrated works for children at a price which the common man could afford. He was also active as an art teacher throughout his career, mentored many students and left behind a number of very informative texts on art and design.
We’ve been working on fonts from small samples of his lettering to include in the Walter Crane package we have in development and it’s been a challenge because most of the samples we’ve had to work from are limited and require a lot of extrapolation. Then, much to our surprise, a parallel project of acquiring books by noted paleographer Lewis Day turned up a Day book with a couple of full sample alphabets hand lettered by Crane. It was a real breakthrough for the project, giving us a nucleus of the font collection which will eventually be in the package.
The first of our Walter Crane fonts is Crane Gothic, based on lettering which offers a unique and original interpretation of late gothic inscribed lettering characteristic of 16th century monumental brasses and stone carvings. It has a full character set with capitals and small caps, plus numbers and punctuation.