Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Pointing Finger...

This post is the result of one of those moments when lots of little pieces of the same 'stuff' seem to congregate around a single point in one's life...

The observant among you will have noticed I'm sure that the Exhibition Guide for the 'Breaking the Rules' exhibition I was talking about yesterday uses the pointing hand as one of its motifs. Which catches my eye more than perhaps it would normally now because of its connection with Gollancz books. Stanley Morison (creator of Times New Roman, typographer extraordinaire etc. etc.) was responsible for the original look of Gollancz yellow-jackets, the deliberate typographical bad-taste of having many different typefaces on one book cover was all down to him and he also allowed the 'blurb' to run off the front covers and onto the flaps so he was very fond of using the pointing hand as an invitation to turn the page... the use on Gollancz covers more or less died out when Morison's involvement with the firm ended so if you see one, there's a good chance it is a Morison design on the cover.

These two things may not have been enough to push me over the edge but then I laid hands the other day on two copies of The London Gazette from 1685 (one of which reports the coronation of James II), simple one sheet newspapers, the first, I believe, newspaper in the world. And on the verso of one of them, lo! 'tis the pointing hand.

I have a feeling that it may be one of those things that once you start to notice it, it never stops...

Bibliographical Matters:

Well, I think anonymous has it once again, thank you once more Mr. Anon, for your detailed comment about the Cataloging in Publication Data... I should also just give honorable mention to an impeccable source at The National Library of Wales who, through an intermediary said,

"not using capitals (except for first word and proper names) is more efficient (fewer keystrokes) and avoids irregularities of opinion over which words need capitals and which don't "

So I think we can now say that this question is pretty much closed but it has been great fun digging around it so thank you so much to all who showed an interest.

Egg - Meet Face!

Okay, so if I had just thought to use google a little bit earlier... it transpires that there was in fact an Italian author rejoicing in the name of Edmondo De Amicis and that, despite the fact that for all kinds of reasons this is exactly the kind of pseudonym Rolfe would have chosen, this was in fact not a previously unrecorded story by Frederick Rolfe. Best guess at the moment is that this was a story translated by Rolfe, which would account for some very Corvine phrases in the English and also for the rather strange beginning which, on reflection does seem the kind of thing that might result from difficult translation. Anyway, whilst that's disappointing, it is still a late nineteenth century story with a very definite homosexual subtext (although I have no evidence about De Amicis's sexuality except that he was married), and was possibly translated by Rolfe - it's possible therefore that it still might find it's way out of my hands as a published item but it will require a little more work now.


John C said...

I used some pointing hands recently on the redesigned jacket for The Exploits of Engelbrecht which I wanted to give an "antique" feel. I find it curious that the hand concept is seen as old-fashioned despite most of us owning a pair of hands while arrows are very old-fashioned indeed yet are ubiquitous in signage.

Thevina said...

You know, I'd not thought of the 'pointing hand' motif before, but I suspect, like you, now that I'm aware of it, I'll see it far more often! I certainly wouldn't have expected to see such a typographical ornament like that on something so old, but that just shows how naive I am about many aspects in which you're knowledgeable. ;)

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