The story of Monticello

charles ellertson's picture

Chuck Creesy has an article "Monticello: The History of a Typeface" in Printing History 49 (Volume 25, No. 1). It is a nice write up on the several revivals of a font family from Binny & Ronaldson, America's first (successful) type foundry. Also some of the story about C. H. Griffith's and P. J. Conkwright's collaboration of bringing out Linotype Monticello, and the latest revival by Matthew Carter.

hrant's picture

Thanks - this interests me, not least because of its lc "g".

hhp

hrant's picture

I recently got my hands on the article, and am almost finished reading it, but had a question that I couldn't wait to ask: on page 18 there's mention of a face used by John Bell called "English Roman", and it sounds fascinating. But I wonder if this is this the Bell typeface that we know, or something else?

hhp

John Hudson's picture

English is a type size equivalent to 14pt, so 'English Roman' implies something very generic: a roman type at 14pt. Presumably, in this case, it was Bell's own roman type.

hrant's picture

The label itself did sound mundane to me as well, but the article: uses the label in a way that seems to imply something special, I mean beyond just a generic size term; and it says that "many of the letters had two alternative forms" which I don't remember being the case for Bell's face (except for the famous "k").

hhp

ebensorkin's picture

I have no access to the physical journal but I found this:

http://www.creativepro.com/story/feature/20027.html

Chuck Creesy's picture

My Monticello article is now available online (with images):

http://press.princeton.edu/Monticello

--Chuck Creesy,
Princeton University Press

hrant's picture

Very gracious of you.

hhp

will powers's picture

I don't know about the rest of you, but I weekly offer thanks to Creesy, Carter, et al for giving Monticello to us again. This is the type that started me thinking about letters when I was about 14, many years ago. When I saw the Linotype version I knew I was seeing something different than what I had been reading before. The face "spoke" to something in me, something beyond the voracious reader I was then. It opened my eyes so I could begin to see what words and lines were made of. & here I am today. & to this day I find it an admirable type.

powers

hrant's picture

It's interesting for such a down-to-earth text face to have done this to you.

hhp

will powers's picture

Hrant:

I really cannot recall just what it was that made me stop and LOOK at Monticello. I was not at 14 altogether ignorant of type, but nearly so. I had been given a cheap toy cylinder press when I was about 7, and I used its cheesy rubber type through junior high school, printing billheads for my "Newark Evening News" paper route. & I used to pore over my aunt's Heritage Club books, paying special attention to the little folders she kept with them, fascinated by colophonic nuggets about typefaces, printers, and papers. & I had been in enough printing shops to have been captivated by the siren sounds of Linotypes and printing presses. Those were my favorite industrial places.

But this Monticello face stopped me dead. I guess by that time about a dozen volumes of Jefferson's papers had been printed, and I encountered the face in one of them, as I read for a history project. Perhaps it was the design of the Princeton volumes, more sedate than those in Heritage Club books, that also attracted me. Or better presswork than was common in books a bookish boy might read back then. Who knows? Those days are long ago and misty. I know that I saw something good. I recall the sensation as strongly as I recall the first Duane Eddy records. & the first Ornette Coleman records a few years later.

& Monticello seems to have pre-figured something of my taste in type. As soon as I became an apprentice compositor I discovered Bell and Baskerville, and, when given a bit of rein to make type choices I gravitated in those directions. Bulmer, too, attracted me, but a bit less. Scotch Roman never caught my eye until M Carter's Miller, which is now nearly my "house type."

Or maybe it is in the blood. My mother's family came to these shores early, from Scotland, and indeed settled near to where Jefferson made his home at Monticello. When I first went to college that was in Scotland County.

& I do think of myself as a rather down-to-earth guy. I started this reply Friday afternoon, but the weather was so good I left work early to work in my garden: a rather Jeffersonian pursuit.

That's all I know about it.

powers

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