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Old 08-21-2006, 12:22 PM   #1
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Default Lovely old book on letters

The Anatomy of Lettering* by Warren Chappell is a treasure in several aspects.

For one thing, the book itself is beautifully hand-set in Weiss Roman by the Golden Hind Press. (I have attached a large enough image of one of the pages that you can almost see the texture of the paper and the faint shadow from the impact of the type on the back of the page.)

For another, it is a somewhat neglected member of the small library of useful books on letter design and spacing. Chappell worked as an illustrator, typographer, and type designer. He respected both written letters and metal type, but even though he lived until 1991, he did not design any typefaces for film or digital production. Still, much of the information is as useful to type designers as letterers.

This book is out of print, obviously. I half wish someone would bring out a new edition and half fear that without the letterpress work it would be sadly lacking. On the other hand, his insights into letterforms and their spacing would survive. There was a fairly recent updated edition of one of Chappell’s other books, A Short History of the Printed Word, with editing and update by Robert Bringhurst.

Among Chappell’s type designs is Lydian Cursive; Jack and I used it on our wedding announcements 40 years ago.

* Published by Bridgman Publishers in 1940; a revision of the 1935 edition.
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