Thanks to MrMild, our Chief Investigative Typographer, for bringing this article to our attention. It’s a bit breathless, but still a fun read for lovers of type.
Steven Heller writes about the old days of burnishers and silicon backing sheets.
While talking to Howard Sobel today, he mentioned Gary Elfring, who’s been turning out fonts for many years. Gary’s specialties include bar code, scanning, and MICR fonts; he also will produce custom fonts for you. Take a look at the Elfring Fonts website.
It’s the mid 1980s, probably December, early evening, dark, very wet and very cold. I was picking up a typositor font from an unknown supplier. The entrance to his big apartment building on the northwest corner of Amsterdam and 72nd St. turned out to be some distance up the side street. No doorman, an unprepossessing foyer and only one elevator. When the doors opened, I turned right as instructed and froze: a Chopin étude was roiling out of one of the apartments off the narrow hallway ahead. Sure enough, the Chopin was coming from my supplier’s apartment.
I stood at the door. The bass rumbled through me while the melody’s longing turned into plangent defiance. I refused to allow guilty thoughts of my 2-year-old and the babysitter at home detract one iota from the music’s searing immediacy. Please, don’t stop. But he did, of course, and reality settled in. I pushed the bell. The lid dropped over the keyboard, the deadbolts retracted and the door opened.
“Hi. Berling, right?” I handed him a check; he gave me a little white box. All business. “Thanks. Good night.” I seriously considered leaning on the doorbell and begging him to let me sit under the piano for the next two weeks or so.
How does someone who can play like that end up making alphabet filmstrips for a living?
Back in 2011, Emigre offered a handful of their type catalogs for just $3. I took them up on it and was rewarded with these fine type specimens. While I don’t use many Emigre fonts (a bit outré for my taste), they’re beautiful and stylish.
I’ve long admired the old-time fonts from Letter Head Fonts, a foundry which represents a stable of mostly sign painters who love letters. Check them out!