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Tuesday 23 July 2013

Duplicating 'Typewritten' Letters in Printing: The 'New Model Typewriter' Font and China Silk

What comes around goes around. Today, a wide range of typewriter fonts are very readily available on the Internet. Thanks to Richard Polt, in particular, it is now easy to download digital fonts which will allow anyone to create and print documents using the typeface of real typewriters, from the Sholes & Glidden (below) to the Byron Mark I. Such documents, however, will not fool anyone - while the alignment might not always be perfect, the evenness of the type impression will be. And, of course, letter spacing will be proportional.
In typesetting and printing - including that using electric typewriters such as the 1961 IBM Selectric - the use of "typewriter" fonts is far from new. One of my earliest posts in this blog, from March 14, 2011, has proved one of the most popular - to date it has had 4937 page views (that's 0.84 per cent of all page views). It told some of the story of the Courier typeface, which is by far the most commonly used "typewriter-style" font in modern technology. This is despite Courier being designated a "nerd" typeface by Lexmark in 2001 (see Just My Type, by Simon Garfield, Profile Books, 2010).
Courier (above) is a monospaced slab serif typeface specifically designed for IBM by Howard "Bud" Kettler in 1955. Its purpose was "to resemble the output from a strike-on typewriter". Nineteen years later, American Typewriter (below) was created Joel Kaden and Tony Stan for the International Typeface Corporation "based on the form and monospaced feature of the early [Christopher Latham] Sholes patent of the typewriter. They adapted the friendliness and immediacy of this style into the proportionally spaced font. This face was never made as foundry type, but appeared first as cold type and has subsequently been made into digital type."
Two of the slab monospaced fonts developed by Charles Bigelow and Kris Holmes in 1985 for the Lucida family of related typefaces were designated as "typewriter" fonts, one sans-serif and the other serif.
Work on achieving a means of mass producing documents which gave the impression of having been individually written on a typewriter goes back to at least 1907.
My post last week on the McCall-Hooven typewriter-letter duplicating system showed that there was, at the turn of the last century, a demand within American business to try to fool recipients of mass-produced letters into thinking their letters had been individually typed.
A further development in this was the creation by the American Type Founders Company in 1909 of what it called the "New Model Typewriter" font. It was to be used when printing through China silk.
Typewriter Topics reported on this:

1 comment:

Richard P said...

A small note: the Byron Mark II typewriter does not exist. This is the name I chose to give a font made with a Byron Mark I typewriter, but using a carbon ribbon.