Saturday, June 02, 2012

Victorian Typography


As fashions go, it is possible that Victorian typography is about the most out-of-fashion design style one can imagine. Granted, within the fairly niche market of Steampunk there is a glance back to Victorian letters in design inspired by or for the genre, but even the most ardent Steampunkers (should there be a better nomenclature than that?) would admit it isn't exactly a mass participation activity. Characterised by multiple fonts on the same page, often open-faced or three dimensional fonts with gothic flourishes and blots, it's clearly not for the typographically faint-hearted. But when I come across such over-the-top and yet wonderful examples as these, I'm moved to say it might be time to engineer a revival. Perhaps Callum James Books should look into publishing a Victorian Typography Source Book... stop me, someone, please, that way lies madness...

These all came from a single disbound (but originally bound together) collection of sheet music. It's not the first such collection I've had in my study here and I have wondered before why there isn't more by way of a collectors' market for material like this. Largely, I'm sure, it would be for the way it looks: typography aside, some of the best Victorian lithography seems to have been reserved for the covers of sheet music.


1 comment:

Art Durkee said...

You might enjoy knowing about the Hamilton Wood Type Museum, in Wisconsin.

http://woodtype.org/

I've been there myself, and thoroughly enjoyed looking at the 1.5 million type blocks, many of them of the Victorian era you describe here.

I have to say, as a book designer and typographer myself, the Victorian usage of multiple faces on the page is usually a lot more than I can take from a design. But it does have a certain panache, and Steampunk designers could at least find inspiration there, if not imitation. I admit that I have done a Halloween poster with 9 coordinated horror-themed typefaces on it, so perhaps I'm not one to talk. LOL

 
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