Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Hacking woodtype

In the digital age when designers don’t bother hand kerning by nudging the option arrow keys because it is too much trouble, it's heartening to look into old type cases and see what real kerning was...the cutting away of the space on a character to fit pairs together better. One can see in woodtype cases how a Cap A is notched at the top so out can fit into the T whose bottom has been notched. This was the sign of a craftsman printer who cared about how letter looked on the page.

Another woodtype artifact that is more rare but can be found in old cases, is modified characters. The limit of only a few of each letter in a woodtype font would often necessitate the sacrifice of some other letter to make the missing letter. An E turned into an F is easy to hide, but here are a few clever solutions to letter modification that have been discovered in the last few days at WNYBAC.

A number 8 has been frantically turned into an S.

This tiny 3 line woodtype C had been made into a G my inserting a type high lead shim

This V is now an A with the insertion of some solid material that will print at the same height as the rest of the letter (as found in the extensive woodtype collection at Massey College Toronto.)


Z.Rodriguez said...

Couple of Mcguyvers over there, huh?

mark said...

this is great. kerning is becoming a lost art and this is awesome to see.