14 February 2013

Rare in Toronto

If you know anything about book design and printing in England in the early twentieth century, most likely you will recognize the style of this printed book cloth. If you don’t, and you live near Toronto, you will just have to come and hear the lecture I’ll be giving in on March 5th at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library.

The title of the talk is entitled The Stacks School of Typography, and the will attempt to explain the role that some specific library collections have played in my evolution as a book designer, with specific examples of the ways in which libraries and archives can be used as workshops for learning about typography and design.

My talk will be the 2013 Leon Katz Memorial Lecture, endowed by Johanna Sedlmayer-Katz and organized by The Friends of The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library. When there are that many proper names lined up around a lecture title, you feel a certain pressure to deliver the goods. While I usually talk off the cuff, this lecture will be delivered from a prepared text – though I will no doubt deviate from it liberally.

(If you’re stumped about the printed book cloth above, it was printed at the Curwin Press in 1931. But if you want to know how it’s linked to Acadia University’s rare book collection in Wolfville – my home stacks, as it were – you’ll have to attend my talk.)

Leon Katz Memorial Lecture
Tuesday 5 March 2013 at 8:00 p.m.
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library
120 St. George Street, Toronto


In the meantime, I’m trying to spend some time overhauling our Linotype. Having cleared the jam behind the escapement mechanism, I’ve moved on to sorting out some sticky keys and bars on the keyboard.

A view from the top of the keyboard, opened to expose the cam yokes. When a key is depressed on the keyboard, a trigger moves and drops a cam onto the rubber roller. The revolution of the cam on the roler raises a rod, which in turn opens the escapement and drops a single matrix from the magazine into the assembly channel. It’s like a giant game of dominos.

Cam yokes extracted and lined up for cleaning and oiling.

One key was not working at all, so after removing the cam yoke, I checked the triggers to see whether I could spot the source of the problem. Hmmm. One of these things is not like the others; one of these things does not belong. (Everything I ever needed to know about troubleshooting equipment I learned from Sesame Street.)<

I’ve noticed since I started working on the Linotype that Gary has taken a renewed interest in the Monotype composition caster that we’ve had in storage since about 2005. He’s been rummaging around, cleaning up moulds and trying to find missing parts. Is this the beginning of our own little Monotype vs. Linotype battle of the casters? Curious.


Speaking of battles, through careful management, I have managed to hear absolutely NONE of the nonsense that is CBC Radio’s Canada Reads this week, but reports from friends who have been unlucky enough to have caught portions of the broadcasts suggest that the program is an embarrassment to the nation’s literary culture. All I can say is that I have voted with my fingers, and turned the dial.


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