Notes from Lyon

Posted via email from Starbucks, the only working wifi in town.

James Mosley is the best!

“There has been a lot of rubbish written about type history.”

“I’m thinking of Updike who thought he knew everything about type, but in fact he didn’t know type at all.”

“One hero is Harry Carter. And then a young chap called Mike Parker came along.”

“ATF was claiming that they had the more original Caslon type. I’m afraid it was true. It was stolen, but at least it was stolen from the right place.”

Caslon foundry electrotyped type and made new matrices in the 19th century. “Advertising them as cast from matrices made from original punches is a lie. All type by Caslon was recut, it’s just not the same.”

Striking the punch into copper hardens the copper at the bottom of the face, while the rest stays soft. This is a good thing. This is why they are much more durable than electrotyped matrices.

On preserving type: “We finally have an audience to talk to now. There is a much larger consumer base for type nowadays.”

Johan de Zoete on type history:
“To make it even more complicated: …”

Richard Southall is amazing! He should start a blog, just like James Mosley to write down the story of his matrix fabricating machine that never got produced. And his stories from working with Donald Knuth, and at Adobe, and at Xerox when times got bad for them. What a pleasant guy.

Patrick Storme, expert for preserving metal type in Antwerp: “What I’m going to show you is complete horror.”

He is talking about metallography and all kinds of analysis and measurements of type, matrices and punches. I think this is the most nerdy talk I have ever attended. Very very cool.

The Oddy test: testing if a material you use in you collection will harm your type: put it together with samples of the metals or alloys in a closed container with a small
amount of distilled water for 26 days at 60C.

“What we found out with these 15 pieces is that we have 15 kinds of erosions. So we learned that you can have all kinds of things.”

Most dangerous kinds of wood on pure lead: Beech and hardboard. Not so much to alloys with Antimony

“So this is basically complete destruction. Very interesting. I am very proud that I can make this kind of corrosion.”


“On the one side you have Bill Garth who thought type as a tool for the machine to work. So he had no problem with copying type from other foundries without their agreement. On the other side Charles Peignot who was interested in high quality type and original designs. He hired Adrian Frutiger.”

Possible with phototype now: joining script fonts (Snell Roundhand) and more/better non-Latin type because of the ability to have joints to improve some foreign scripts like Arabic, wider letter forms and a larger characterset.

Monotype got rid of all their friskets because the material is highly inflammable and could catch on fire at any time.

The exhibition Alice and Alan put together is really really really awesome! I pray that it’s going to travel to other places after it closes in Lyon tomorrow. Get the catalog!

Now lunch.

Long, mind blowing conversation with James Mosley. He was invited to the APHA conference in Chicago too. So glad he chose to come to Lyon instead (sorry).

He told me that Monotype Grotesque was produced for the German market due to demand for something like AG and Venus.

Richard Southall

How the Lumitype Photon looked from the inside. Insane.

Very few direct photography photo matrices carry character width information at all. This was stored in width cards and bands that had to be kept with the fonts.

In third generation phototype the matrix itself disappeared.

“Conserve documentation!”

“The easiest type technologies to preserve are the oldest.”

“You can progress sideways and backwards, as well as forwards.”

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