Pet Book #2: Print

One of the first things I noticed about the way that my Pet Book, The Water Babies, a Fairytale for a Land-Baby, was printed was the typography used throughout the book. As I wrote about in my first post, the title page features an ornate design of the book’s title that I’m not sure any goldsmith would have been able to carve out. Were there certain advanced in printing and typography within the mid 1800s that would have allowed for such an ornate display at the very beginning of the book? Another thing about the title page that I noticed was the varying types of typography used on just one page. From the ornate title, to the author and publishers names, to the editor, there appear to be three different distinct types of type used, and varying styles and sizes within the similar fonts.

I also noticed on one of the first pages of the book, it makes a distinct between Typographer and Pressworker. I find this to be especially interesting because it’s not something we see in printed books anymore. Maybe because all of the fonts we have today that are typically used in book printing are relatively commonplace and similar, but I thought it was interesting that credit was given where it was due. I tried to dig deeper into the history of the typography company and ended up finding the website MyFonts, where designers can buy different versions of different fonts to download and use themselves. The front Cushing No.2 looks incredibly similar, albeit with smaller spacing between letters, to the font found in my Pet Book. It was created in 1897, a few years after my Pet Book had been printed, which leads me to believe that my book features an earlier version (perhaps Cushing No. 1) of this typeface.

My favorite aspect about this book is the historiated capitals that begin each chapter, all featuring a different drawing of the book’s protagonist, Tom, and whatever situation he is about to get himself into next. One interesting thing to note about the design of the historiated capitals is that they are all generally set up the same way: the squares are the same size and on each of them, the very top is never a complete straight line, but rather the drawing sort of branching out onto the page with the type itself. Especially with modern books, I feel like this is a printing feature we don’t typically see very often and its much too beautiful of an object to ignore.

For the rest of this project, one facet of publishing I plan to look into is how it differed for children’s books versus books meant for adults. In my Pet Book, the spaces between the words are huge, the letters are relatively large and legible, and each paragraph down each page is numbered which starts over after a chapter ends and another one begins. Was this done to help children keep pace while reading in class, to remember where they left off, or was it a convention used in books printed at the time to remind people which paragraph on a page they were reading?

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