Thursday, March 4, 2010

Featured Book: A Half-Century of Type Design and Typography, 1895-1945, by Frederic W. Goudy

Two volumes, in slipcaseAs one might expect, some of the most artful books are those produced by professional bookmakers and designers working in the field; oftentimes these books have very limited print runs and are intended primarily for friends and associates.

Frederic Goudy, a luminary of twentieth-century graphic design and typography, had a number of such books made during his lifetime. Perhaps the most desirable is his two-volume set A Half-Century of Type Design and Typography, 1895-1945, featured here, published by the prestigious Typophile Chap Book Series (volumes one and two comprising issues XIII and XIV in the series). As stated in the colophon, only 825 copies were printed: 100 were for contributors and 300 were for subscribers to the series, leaving only 425 for sale.

The books are gorgeously made, with obvious care taken in everything from the texture of the paper to the quality of ink. The bulk of both volumes is given over to examples of various type designs along with the story of their genesis and noteworthy applications. A useful index at the beginning of volume 1 lists the types designed by Goudy and their respective page numbers; his body of work includes such well-known names as Goudy Old Style, Venezia Italic, and Deepdene.

Author inscription on front free endpaperMost copies of the history were inscribed; our copy was given to Veronica, a "friend of the author," and is dated Christmas 1946, the year of publication (and a year before his death). Goudy was kind enough to note that the gift was presented at Deepdene, Goudy's estate in Marlboro-on-Hudson, NY, named after the street in Queens from which he ran Village Press for many years.

The books themselves are nearly pristine, with sharp corners, bright text, supple pages, and completely intact gilt titles. The front free endpapers of both volumes are signed by the previous owner (see photo), a prominent Baltimore doctor, who also made notes on the rear free endpaper of volume one, regarding highlights of the text. The slipcase shows wear and is splitting at the joints in several places, but it it still holding square. The original wrap, a delicate paper, is no longer present. Overall it's a beautiful set, suitable for the collector or practicing designer/typographer. If you purchase through PayPal below, you can have this rare piece of history for just $175.99, with shipping included.

Both volumes have covers embossed with the Typophiles logo


A Half-Century of Type Design and Typography, by Frederic W. Goudy
First Edition (limited to 825 copies)
New York: Typophiles Chap Books. 2 vols.

$175, shipping included



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