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Libraries & Culture 39.1 (2004) 99-101

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Printing Types: Their History, Forms, and Use. By Daniel Berkeley Updike. New Castle, Del.: Oak Knoll Press, and London: British Library, 2001. Vol. 1, xlvi, 292 pp.; vol. 2, xix, 329 pp. $85.00 (cloth), $49.95 (paper). ISBN 1-58456-060-6; 1-58456-056-8.
Stephenson Blake: The Last of the Old English Typefounders. By Roy Millington. New Castle, Del.: Oak Knoll Press, and London: British Library, 2003. x, 247 pp. $49.95. ISBN 158456086X.[End Page 99]
Eric Gill in Ditchling. Edited by Peter Holliday. New Castle, Del.: Oak Knoll Press, 2002. viii, 82 pp. $19.95. ISBN 1584560754.
British Wood Engraved Book Illustration 1904-1940: A Break with Tradition. By Joanna Selborne. New Castle, Del.: Oak Knoll Press, and London: British Library, 2001. xxiii, 433 pp. $59.95 (paper). ISBN 1-58456-059-2.

These four books provide a sampling of both current and classic scholarship on typography and the relationships between type and image. Their topics involve aspects of typeface design, typecasting, and book illustration, and they form a comprehensive overview of the nature of book arts and design during the first half of the twentieth century. The influence of these texts exceeds their focus on typography, and they will appeal to those interested in understanding the creation of the materials libraries collect.

Daniel Berkeley Updike's Printing Types is the definitive work on the history of typography. The work was originally published in 1922. Oak Knoll's version is the fourth edition and once again brings this classic work back into general availability. Updike's treatment of the history of printed letters is exhaustive, spanning the centuries from the invention of printing to the first stirrings of the early-twentieth-century British and American typographical renaissance, in which he took an active part. His survey moves chronologically and country by country through the history of typography, providing examples and illustrations from across Europe.

Oak Knoll's new edition has added a preface by Martin Hunter that provides a brief overview of Updike's life and places the writing of Printing Types within the context of Updike's other activities. Also included are the prefaces from previous editions, including those that Updike wrote for the first and second editions, which explain how he came to write Printing Types. The inclusion of this additional material helps to trace the development of both the text and its reception.

There is ample reason to celebrate the return to print of Printing Types. It is essential reading for those interested in the process of making books, and although parts of the text have been superseded by new research, its scope and content have yet to be matched. In addition, this text is now a historical document in its own right, revealing the attitudes and values of the typographical renaissance in which it was written.

The art described by Updike developed into a major international business, and Stephenson Blake tells the story of one of these businesses, the English typefoundry Stephenson Blake and Company. Written by the company's "honorary curator-archivist," it details the conditions that formed the company's earliest roots in the Sheffield cutlery trade and covers the growth of the business into one of the largest in England. While there are many books that focus on the typefaces of early printed books or modern fine printing, the business of type production for the printing trade is an equally fascinating tale and is the focus of Millington's book.

Two significant time periods in English typefounding frame the contents of Stephenson Blake. The first begins in the mid-eighteenth century, when the Caslon family dominated English typecasting. The partnerships, disputes, and deals that formed between Caslon and its competitors provide a vivid description of an era when the physical resources of type molds and designs were an asset of great value and importance. The second...


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