The Centaur Types [1 ed.]
 1557530521, 9781557530523, 1557538190, 9781557538192, 1557530769, 9781557530769, 1612494919, 9781612494913, 1612494900, 9781612494906

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Table of contents :
Centaur its Forebears, Genesis, Development & Offspring
Monotype Centaur

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First printing by October House, 1949 First paperback printing by Purdue University Press, 1996 Revised edition, 2018 1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2 Printed in the United States of America Book design by Bruce Rogers Cover design by Lindsey Organ Text © copyright Bruce Rogers, 1949 Introduction text © copyright Jerry Kelly and Misha Beletsky, 2018 Paperback ISBN: 978-1-55753-819-2 ePub ISBN: 978-1-61249-491-3 ePDF ISBN: 978-1-61249-490-6 The Library of Congress has cataloged the earlier paperback edition as follows: Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Rogers, Bruce, 187o–1957. The Centaur types / Bruce Rogers. p. cm. Originally published: Chicago : October House, 1949. ISBN 1-55753-076-9 ( alk. paper) 1. Type and type-founding—United States—Centaur roman—History. 2. Rogers, Bruce, 187o–1957. I. Title. Z250.5.C44R64 1996 686.2 '24—dc2o  95-41056 CIP

PREAMBLE So much has already been written about the type called Centaur that the only thing that seemed left to do, in order to fulfill Mr. Poole's desire to make a little book about it, was to resort to a sketch of the circumstances which formed the background of its production. Though writing in the first person singular I have tried to keep autobiographical details as unobtrusive as possible, balancing them with ntlplerous reproductions of the type itself and other related faces. After all, the design is the chief thing, and not the methods by which it came into being. I am indebted to many friends. First of all to Mr. George A. Poole, [r., who sponsored this opuscule: then to Mr. E. Willis Jones, for many practical suggestions; to Mr. R.Hunter Middleton, for an account of the Nicolas Jenson type and the specimen page of it shown here; to Mr. J. W. McFarlane, Manager of the Harvard University Press, for resetting the first specimen page of Centaur; to the Metropolitan Museum Press, for the pages of large Centaur capitals; to Houghton Mifflin Company for the specimen page of Montaignetype; and to Mr. Carroll T. Harris for the specimen pages of Monotype Centaur. With all this expert assistance it surely seems that I should have made this little monograph better than it is. October House, New Fairfield, Conn.

B. R.

introduction Bruce Rogers is arguably the greatest book designer America ever produced. For much of the twentieth century he was the best-known book designer in the world, although he is rarely mentioned today. While Rogers devoted almost all of his energies to book design, there is at least one other indelible contribution he made to the graphic arts: his timeless Centaur roman typeface design, the story of which The Centaur Types relates. Hailing from Linwood, Indiana, Bruce Rogers graduated from Purdue University in 1890. He worked as a newspaper illustrator and railroad clerk before transferring into design at J. M. Bowles’s Modern Art magazine. He moved with the magazine to Boston in 1895. After the magazine failed, he went to work for Houghton MiΩin & Company, taking the position previously held by D. B. Updike, who had left in 1893 to found the Merrymount Press. At Houghton MiΩin’s captive printing works, the Riverside Press, Rogers would attempt his first typeface design based on Jenson’s seminal roman of 1470, Montaigne. In 1912 Rogers left Houghton MiΩin, becoming a wandering freelance book designer for the rest of his life. It was around that time that Rogers began work on his Centaur typeface, which he saw as an im-

vi introduction provement on his earlier attempt at a revival of Jenson’s type. And indeed it was. Three books are invariably cited as Rogers’s finest work: Fra Luca de Pacioli (The Grolier Club, 1933); the Oxford Lectern Bible (1935), hailed as “the greatest book of the 20th century” by Joseph Blumenthal; and Homer’s Odyssey (1932), translated by T. E. Shaw (Lawrence of Arabia). All were set in Centaur: two in the Monotype version, with the Bible in a specially redesigned version of the 22-point size. Interestingly, all three were printed under Rogers’s direct supervision in England, where he loved to go, not in his native United States. Monotype Centaur was also produced by the British firm, not the American Monotype Company, as you will read in the pages of this book. Rogers himself felt that Ludlow Eusebius (known earlier as Nicolas Jenson) “was a more faithful reproduction of Jenson’s letter than Centaur or Cloister.” He wrote to Paul Bennett, publicity director of the Mergenthaler Linotype Company, “To me there is no question that the Detterer type (in the original size) is the closest copy ever made of Jenson—not only the individual letters but the ‘feeling’ of the type on the page.” It may be that Rogers’s deviation from the Jenson model is the source of

introduction vii Centaur’s greatest strength. The distinct characteristics he incorporated in the type’s design in the process of reinterpreting an original from centuries earlier make Centaur, in the opinion of many experts, the most graceful and finest of Jenson revivals. Rogers wrote about his Centaur type several times, with his most complete account being this book, first published in 1949 at the suggestion of George Poole, who had it printed on the presses of Poole Brothers, one of Chicago’s most important printing companies. It is not surprising that it was Poole who encouraged Rogers to write this book on his Centaur type: his special interest was fine printing, rare books, and libraries. Poole’s own collection of rare manuscripts dating from the third to the sixteenth century, among the most notable of the mid-twentieth century, is now at the Lilly Library at Indiana University. The Centaur Types is not a type founder’s specimen, since it was not printed by a foundry or intended as a sales tool. It cannot be considered a scholarly monograph, written as it was by the designer himself, who took liberties with the facts and was not overly meticulous as to the details. Nor is it a memoir, as it goes into only a few particulars of the subject’s life. Instead, it is an

viii introduction amalgam of a little bit of all of the above, welldesigned and assembled, as may be expected from its author. If there were one word that could sum up the personality of Bruce Rogers, it would probably be elusive. The Centaur Types is quintessential Rogers: quirky, meandering, unpredictable, yet well written. Its narrative is at times aloof (with an air of disinterest we are told it was “Mr. Poole’s desire to make a little book,” not the ­author’s); at times jocular and colloquial (the author describes his punchcutter as a “marvellous potato masher,” to cite one example). It does a thorough job of presenting Centaur’s precursor Montaigne, the original foundry Centaur type, and its Monotype recutting. It provides useful showings of the metal types in different sizes, like a traditional type specimen would, illustrating a variety of subtle design differences. Also shown are reproductions of tracings made from the original metal patterns used to create the foundry Centaur; those are hardly ever seen and serve as an invaluable aid for researchers. Although a fascinating read, the chronological narrative that accompanies the book’s ample visual content does almost as much to obfuscate the design’s genesis as it does to shed light on it. As a result, a number of misconceptions and minor errors that have crept into the history of

introduction ix this type, repeated since by virtually every typographic scholar who dealt with the subject, originate from this book.  Some of the small inaccuracies seem to stem from a faulty recollection, as with the question of which foundry cast the first Centaur types; Rogers names ATF, while in fact ATF did not have anything to do with Centaur. Robert Wiebking’s Advance Type Foundry (which by coincidence shared the initials with American Type Founders Company, but was never known by its abbreviation) originally cast the type. Advance was purchased by ATF’s competitor, Western Type Foundry, in 1914. Centaur was cast either in Chicago or in St. Louis, but the matrices were stored in Western’s facility in St. Louis after the first casting. By a similar slip of the tongue, Rogers’s longtime friend and associate H. W. Kent is inadvertently promoted from secretary to the director of the Metropolitan Museum, a position he never held. Others are facts slightly “fudged” to suit the author’s storyline better. He writes: “It was ­several years thereafter, when I had moved to Boston . . . that I again became letter conscious,” although he had already been working as a professional letterer and designer for T. B. Mosher and J. M. Bowles since 1894, prior to his move to Boston in 1895. Dating his renewed interest to

x introduction the Boston Public Library exhibition makes for a neater story and conveniently omits the mention of William Morris, a looming, if passing, influence in his early lettering work. Rogers’s original text referred to the Morris influence; it was excised in the published version of The Centaur Types, but fortunately it is preserved in manuscript form at the Virginia Kelly Karnes Archives and Special Collections Research Center of the Purdue University Libraries: It was a good many years later that I suddenly became type conscious; and that was when Joe Bowles (to whom I owe most, in those formative years) showed me a Kelmscott Press book in the ‘Golden’ type. I tried to think I liked the type, but it was really the paper and the impression and the rich black ink that fascinated both of us. I, at least, had never seen an old well-printed book, and I doubt if Joe had, though he was years ahead of the times in all matters of art, as known and practised in the mid-west of that period. We immediately set about making a book in the new manner, or as nearly so as our limited choice of types and paper permitted; but I still think that the type then known as Old Style Antique (the founders weren’t taking any chances on the name, at least), which we chose for the volume on

introduction xi the Walters collection, stodgy as it looks, is about as good as Morris’s Golden type. The decorations and the initials I drew for the book were poor travesties of Morris’s interlaced designs, just as his were rather wooden revivals of those of the early printers; but I didn’t know that at the time. So, little by little, by study and experiment and failures I advanced in my acquaintance with the Roman letter form. Perhaps the most convoluted part of Centaur’s history is the initiation of machine recutting by the American firm Lanston Monotype Machine Company and its completion by its British counterpart, Monotype Corporation, an unprecedented arrangement between the two independent entities, which in Rogers’s words comes across as another example of polite understatement. “For various reasons,” he writes evasively on p. 63, “but chiefly because I was going back to England for a year or two, it was decided” to entrust the production of the Monotype recutting to the British company. In fact, the correspondence between Rogers and the two firms preserved at the Monotype archives suggests the true reason for his decision was far removed from casual travel plans. The design was first attempted by the American company, but Rogers was unhappy with

xii introduction its work and seems to have prevailed upon it to move the project to England. Saying this outright may have offended his client and would not suit his genteel personality, so what we have instead is a vague tale that leaves this affair open to speculation. Rogers cites two positive reviews of the type from the highest typographical authorities: D. B. Updike’s in the essential Printing Types, and Stanley Morison’s unsigned review in The Fleuron. One senses having the reviews here relieves the author from the burden of giving his own assessment of the work and allows him to maintain modest appearances. This way, “without prejudice,” he can coyly summarize his feelings with a tinge of self-deprecation: “Although I myself do not rate it so highly, what is my opinion against that of two such eminent connoisseurs of type? I may be mistaken.” Robert Bringhurst sums up the typeface well in The Elements of Typographic Style: “Many types of many kinds claim to be inspired by the roman cut at Venice in 1469 by Nicolas Jenson. Some of these derivatives are masterpieces; others are anything but. Bruce Rogers’s Centaur is deservedly the best known recreation of Jenson’s ­roman.” This history, as related in the book you are now holding in your hands (or reading on a

introduction xiii screen—how times have changed!), is told from Rogers’s viewpoint. Even if some details may occasionally be off, he offers a unique perspective. Rogers was an excellent writer, and he included a wealth of important information and entertaining background on his type design masterpiece in The Centaur Types. Jerry Kelly & Misha Beletsky

New York, June 2017


N my early years, like other children of my age, I played with cubical blocks that had letters printed on each face. I fear I didn't do much with them except to build houses and forts, thoughI maypossiblyhavelearned the alphabet at the same time-which was, of course, the intention of my elders. At any rate I was not entirely illiterate when I first went to school at the age of six, for I was put into the Second Reader class at the end of my first day in a little oneroom, brick building, which was still standing (though with no tablet on it) when I last visited my home town of Linwood, in Indiana. It was not, however, until I had reached my twelfth year, when a cousin of mine devoted to all forms of art gaveme John Ruskin's Elements of Drawing, that I became aware of letters as something more than mere units in a word. Exercise V. in that book begins: 'When you can manage to tint and gradate tenderly with the pencil, get a good large alphabet, and try to tint the letters into shape with the pencil point.' Ruskin was not interested primarily in letter forms-



only as subjects for practice with the pencil-so I got no further information from him. But where could I get a good large alphabet, and why should it be good as well as large? Were there, then, bad alphabets as well as good, and if so, why? No information on these matters being obtainable in the mid-western town where I then lived, the subject faded from my mind. Later on, in college, I contributed drawings of initials and headings in the picturesque manner to several Class Annuals, and they were surely about as bad as they could be, even though John McCutcheon praised them-probably because his own were worse. It was several years thereafter, when I had moved to Boston in the wake of J. M. Bowles' short-lived quarterly, Modern Ar~ that I again became letter conscious or rather, this time, type conscious. At an exhibition of books at the Boston Public Library I saw for the first time a copy of Nicolas Jenson's Eusebius of 1470, and I was at once impressed by the loveliness of its pages, indifferently printed though they were. This early judgment was confirmed for me many years later (though by then it needed no confirmation) when Berkeley Updike wrote of them: to look at the work of Jenson is to think but of its beauty, and almost to forget that it was made with hands.' I learned that the book belonged to William l



G. Shillaber, a well-known collector of that day. I called upon him at his office and explained my great interest in that particular volume and he at once kindly invited me to dine with him and examine it, and others in his library, at leisure. He offered to let me take the Jenson and photograph a page, which I did immediately; and because of the scarcity of capitals in the Eusebius I later had a photograph made of a page of the same printer's Suetonius in the Harvard College Library, which showed nearly all of them. Thus equipped with models I began the search for what I fondly thought would be the ideaIIy perfect type; not knowing then that it was something like the quest of the Holy Grail. After several years of work with Houghton, MifHin & Company, when the specially printed Riverside Press Editions had achieved a measure of success, I prevailed upon George H. MifHin, then head of the firm and an enthusiast for good bookmaking, to let me havea new type made for a folio edition of Montaigne's Essays then under consideration. I had in the meantime bought Ongania's Early Venetian Printing from Fred Melcher, who was a salesman in the book-store of Estes and Lauriat, though neither of us knew the other's name at the time-and if we had, it would have meant nothing to us then. From Ongania I adapted


VSEBIVM Pamphili de eiJangelica p~aratione

latinum ex gIZCO beatilfime pater iu!fu tuo effeci • Nam quom eum uirum tum eloquena: tii mu1ta.¥ rerum peritia.:et i genii mirabili flumine ex his q~ iam tradud:a runt pr.£ftatilfimum fanditas tua iUI dicet: atq~ ideo qu~ctiq} apud glCEcos ipfius opera extet latina facere illituerit: euangeliea pr.£J?atione qure in urbe forte reperta. ell:: primum aggrefTi tra> idem in libro quafi quodam In fpeculo uariam atqJ -inaillius uiri lieet adrmran.Cunda. enim q u~ ante ~ fuerunt qu~ ramen gt':£Ce fcripta nic mueniretur : re diftinchus ipfis etiam audonbus qui fcripferunt detur. Ita quom conflet nihil fere pneclarum unq :l illis temporibus gr:Eee feripturn non extaret: nihil !lturaq1 abditis quod a philofophis non dfet expli> tum memorierenacitatemi mens J?cepit acumine: ngulis infidere floribus: indeq~ quod ad rem fuam 'no aliter ille undiCF eertiora uerifimilioraue deliges '1 maudini fcient~ cumultun confecit: mulnplices norum fedas no ignorauit: infinitos pene gentium s errores tenuit: orbis terrarum hiftoriam fene fua ~ognouit & ceteris tradidit. Nam quom non ~{fet tm hiltoriam titubare fa:&{filhe patcrnifi dillinda ~ppe quom natura teporis faciat ut q,u~ i tepote Nicolas Jenson's original type

THIS EXHIBITION PAGE IS SET IN THE TYPE CALLED MONTAIGNE WHICH WAS DESIGNED FOR THE RIVERSIDE PRESS, CAMBRIDGE. IT was produced only in 16"'point size for the large three volume folio edition of Montaigne's 'Essays' issued in 1902 . . 03 . . 04 by Houghton, Mifflin &, Company, though it was first used in printing Raleigh's account of the 'Last Sea Fight of the Revenge,' 1902. Later on it was employed sparingly in such volumes as Shel.. ley's translation of 'The Banquet of Plato,' 'The Constitution of the United States of America,' Cortissoz's 'Augustus St.Gaudens,' Bacon's 'Pan sive Natura' (a folio specimen for a German printing periodical), and for oc.. casional smaller pamphlets. The broadsheets, 'Declaration of Independence' and Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation were in massive blocks of Montaigne capitals, in the manner ofRoman inscriptions. Professor Charles Eliot Norton's translation of Dante's Divine Com.. edy was also begun in this type, but the project was given up on Professor Norton's death and the departure of Mr. Rogers from Riverside.

Montaigne type



several decorations for Riverside Press books, at the same time making acquaintance with other early Venetian types; but Jenson's was still my ideal.So, with Mr. MifHin's kind authorization, I blithely set to work to make drawings from enlargements from my Jenson photographs. These designs, through the agencyof Mr. J. W.Phinney, head ofthe Boston branch of the American Type Founders Company, were put into the hands of John Cumming of Worcester for the cutting of the punches. Cumming was the best punch cutter of his day. He was a retired athlete and oarsman, with great clumsy-looking hands; but the way he could handle a minute graving tool was a marvel. He was also a marvellous potato masher, as I discovered when I once lunched at his home. I suppose he enjoyed the relaxation of wielding a larger and freer implement than the graver. The first proofs of the type were faintly disappointing to me, even in the excitement of seeing my drawings transmuted to metal. For Cumming worked almost free-hand, with only occasional measurements, and had not preserved all the niceties of either Jenson's letter or my adaptation of it. But Mr. MifHin was delighted with the new type, and after several of the least successful letters were recut I decided it would have to do-for the time, at least-until I could have another try for my ideal type.



While aIL this was going on I had become a tenant of Mr. ShilIaber's in a queer little house in Pinckney Street, on Boston's Beacon HiII; and though this had no bearing on type design it did provide the setting for an event that was to have a far-reaching influence on my future occupation. For it was there that Henry Watson Kent and John Cotton Dana came to calIon me, and then and there I made the acquaintance of two of the most accomplished and scholarly men in America whose secondary interest, at least, was printing. TiII meeting them I had not definitely decided to become a printer or a book designer, having remnants of an ambition to be an illustrator or a painter. But their enthusiasm and encouragement decided me to remain in what I had thought to be but a temporary occupation.

I have been ambling along too leisurely perhaps, and with too many wanderings into by-paths; but it always would have been difficult, I imagine, to keep a centaur in a beaten track, without strayings into montaignes and other excursions up side lanes. So it wasn't tiII nearly ten years later that I again found myself and my hobby on the highway of type design. Many bridges had gone under the water by that time, and I had burned a few myself; but the typographic fields were more open and more cultivated by machin-



ery, operated by more machine-minded workers. Hand-cut punches had been almost completely superseded by those produced on a pantographic cutting-machine; so the next attempt was made along the new lines. This time I had fugitive prints enlarged from the Jenson photographs and then (as has been recounted more than once) wrote over the lower-case letters with a broad pen, as rapidly as I could drive it. The capitals necessitated more careful drawing, as the original Jenson designs must have required (if drawings had ever been specially made for them, which is dubious). After writing a page which contained practically all the letters of the alphabet the best of them were selected and their obvious imperfections touched up with a brush and white. By Fred Goudy's advice these designs were sent to Robert Wiebking of Chicago, for cutting on his machines. The result was a much closer approximation to the original Jenson than the Montaigne type had been. It was not, however, a facsimile, for I had purposely altered some of the details of a few letters, and Wiebking had made slight alterations, for practical reasons, in others, but they were nearly always improvements over my designs. (The outline letters on following pages were reproduced fromWiebking's zinc patterns.) With only a few recuttings the matrices



were completed in their present form and the first type was cast from them by the American Type Founders Company. I had not yet considered a name for it, being more concerned with the design than with a designation. But having just had a new translation made by my friend George B. Ives of Maurice De Guerin's Le Centaure and planning its printing at Carl Rollins' Montague Press, it occurred to me that as William Morris had named his types from the books in which they first appeared, why not call the new face Centaur? This led to the fanciful idea (possibly born of my familiarity with the more or less fantastic writings of Geofroy Tory) that Centaur was a particularly fitting name for the new type-with its comparatively clumsy, sturdy body and its most important quality concentrated in its head or face-all we can seeof it when it is printed. So it was dubbed Centaur. The only size made was 14-point, though later on Mr. Kent, Director of the Metropolitan Museum Press, had capitals cut in one smaller and several larger sizes for labels in the display cases at the museum. The only books for which I employed it were, so far as I can recollect, first, The Centaur, then DUrer's Of the Just Shaping of Letters (my first and last job of presswork), Tory's Champ Fleury) two or three lesser books

A statue of Mars up on a carte was there Was turned from a womman to a steere. Now wore I not, ne I can not see Lettres, to wittnesse oure bounte, And made forward soone for to ryse A Sergeant of Lawe, war and wys wel nyne and twenty in a compaignye No christen man so ofte of my degree, For in my tyrne a servant was I oon ; By eteme word to dyen in prisoun. Accepte of me my piteous sacrifise And sette a soper at a certeyn pris; Ye woote youre forward and I it you recorde If even song and morwe song accorde. He was an esy man to geve penaunce For disconfort and sory contenaunce, Us to correcte and accusen soone, I yow forgeve a trespas every oon. of grete Nero, and of Antonius Have mercy on oure wo and oure distresse. He is na moore cosyn un-to me, Hardy and wise, and poore and free. Twenty and mo, as grete as any steer We sette I nat a moutance of a tare; I pray to God to sit in magestee, N e for despit and for tirannye. Some tyme an ende is of every dede, Considere now and rewe up on my nede. First trial page with CasIon caps) etc.











GHIJKL Museum Press capitals



and pamphlets, and a brochure, Spare Your Good) privately printed for my friend A.T. Bartholomew and myself at the Cambridge University Press in England. The story of the gambollings of the original Centaur on both sides of the Atlantic really ends here, though, as an appendage I might record that two years ago all the type still in my possession was acquired by the Harvard University Press, where the specimen page shown here was re-composed in its earliest form, before the capitals and the diagonal letters v, w, x, and y were cut. And now the original type is, as De Guerin described his centaur, descending on old age, calm as the stars at their setting.' f

I have often been asked what I myself think of Centaur, and although one usually has a bias in favor of his own productions the whole matter is now so far in the past that I believe I can view it without prejudice. My opinion, then, is that, whatever its intrinsic merits , may be, it is too definitely an Italian Renaissance letter (which I have tried to suggest by the classic column in my initial drawing). It is a little too elegant and thin for our modern papers and methods ofprinting,



and is seen at its best when printed on dampened hand-made or other antique papers, and with more impression than you can ordinarily get a pressman to put on it. He, and most of us, want printing as well as many of our other outlines in life to be as sharp and hard and definite as possible. (I rather think that, in printing, Bodoni inaugurated this fashion, and was thus as I modern' as his types.) The three qualities named, sharp, hard, and definite, are no doubt admirable ones in their place; but Centaur does not take to them readily and naturally, and profits most when somewhat carelesslyprinted on paper that wouldn't be passed as perfect in any modern paper mill. It looks surprisingly well on news stock, but we can't make books of that. It is what might be called a I cool' type unless humored in the composition and press-work. I have recently seen an admirable experiment with the rS-point Monotype face, cast on 14-point body for a book that the Grabhorn Press is producing. The page thus set attains a fullness and richness that could not otherwise be obtained with it. I am happy to be able to show a specimen of this on the opposite page. Centaur has been warmly commended by several writers on types and printing. The late D. B. Updike, in his monumental work, Printing Types) wrote: 'It appears to me one of the best Roman

In 1470, Nicolas Jenson's fine roman made its first appearance. It was the third, or possibly the fourth, pure roman, and was undoubtedly a type rendering ofa veryfinehumanistic manuscript letter. Jenson's type brought forth lavish praise in his own time, even from himself; but how much ofthis acclaim was due to the merits of the type itself and how much to Jenson's superb craftsmanship as a printer is material for conjecture that could be just as fruitfuUy applied to Rogers and his Centaur. If printers copied Jenson's type in the 15th century, (and they probably did, since imitation of success is not a new thing) then their accomplishment feU short ofhis. But printers did not lack other fine models to copy, and the fifteenth century produced many splendid books in type similar, if not superior, to Jenson's. It is in the sixteenth century with the evolution of the professional type designer, or better, punch cutter, that types & not manuscript-lettering commenced to furnish models for types. Fine printing has existed in every age, as has also the crude and inept.

16 point on 14 point



founts yet designed in America, and, of its kind) the best anywhere.' And Watson Kent thought well enough of it to include it in his restricted assortment of types at the Museum Press. So, although I myself do not rate it quite so highly, what is my opinion asagainst that of two such eminent connoisseurs of type? I may be mistaken.

The following pages show exact size reproductions of the engraver's patterns.

































































..r , ....., .






o o

0 0

MONOTYPE CENTAUR New problems arose when the Monotype Company in Philadelphia asked me to let them cut the design for their machines, in all the usual sizes of a series. For various reasons, but chiefly because I was going back to England for a year or two, it was decided to have it made by the Monotype Company of London. There we spent a year or more revising it to fit their composingmachine requirements and making several sets of patterns for the diversity of sizes from six- to seventy-two point. To match their other series of book faces an Italic was desirable; but not feeling prepared or competent to design such a letter I prevailed upon Frederic Warde to revise his beautiful Arrighi italic to accompany the Roman founts. The first specimens of the Monotype version, so far as it was completed (1929) were displayed in a pamphlet called, "The Trained Printer and the Amateur', written at my request by Alfred W. Pollard, then Keeper of Printed Books at the British Museum. The type's first appearance in a book was in Lawrence's translation of 'The Odyssey' which was composed in rS-point at the Cambridge



University Press and printed by Emery Walker (1929-32). It has since become a fairly popular face for special publications in England, notably for some of the splendid books printed at the Shakespeare Head Press in Oxford by the late Bernard Newdigate, who also reviewed it in the London Mercury. In this country it is in use by the Stone Printing Company, Roanoke, Virginia, the Lakeside Press, Chicago, where it was introduced by the late William A. Kittredge, and the Grabhorn Press in San Francisco. It is also to be found in small founts in many lesser printing houses; but the largest collection of matrices is in the establishment of Mackenzie & Harris of San Francisco, which has the complete series from 6-point to 72-point, with the special 60-point titling capitals that were cut for the initials in the Oxford Lectern Bible (1935). For the text type of that Bible the 22-point size was modified by shortening the ascenders and descenders so that it could be cast on 19-point body, and narrowing the letters b, d, h, n, 0, p, q, and u for better fitting in a comparatively short measure. In a notice of the Centaur in Volume VII of Stanley Morison's Fleuron (1930) the reviewer wrote as follows: 'The cutting of the Centaur types for the general use of the printing trade is a notable event even in these days of new founts,



and that it should be cut by a type-setting machine company has its own significance. As is well known, the design was originally cut by Robert Wiebking of Chicago in 1914, Mr. Rogers taking for his model the type used in Jenson's setting of Eusebius HOn the preparation of the Gospel," dated 1470. A comparison of the two types reveals that though, as Mr. Rogers says, he drew over the enlarged photographs of the Eusebius type he also drew away from them-with the happiest results. It would be cheeky, perhaps, to say that the farther Mr. Rogers draws away from Jenson, the nearer he draws to our ideal face, but we may be pardoned for saying that the reputation of Jenson's type is exaggerated at the expense of the designs used by Aldus and Robert Estienne. That Mr. Rogers has assimilated rather than redrawn his original is, therefore, matter for congratulation. There are differences in detail and in mass which are conspicuous. Instead of the very ugly double serifs of the original, which were so carefully retained in the Doves fount, we are given an entirely new and beautiful M. The R is a departure; besides a sixteenth-century swing to its tail, it has a higher waist-line than Jenson's capital. We should also have liked a shorter tailed capital R for medial use. The present letter looks its best when used as a final sort. The comparatively narrow



Centaur A is a great improvement on the original. The H remains wide while B is the narrowest letter in the fount. 'In the lower case, we should have been pleased if Mr. Rogers had taken the opportunity of slightly contracting the present wide 'h' and giving an 'e' with a horizontal cross stroke. The 'f' is beautifully proportioned in itself and with its combinations. That articulus aut stantis vel candentis, the 'g', a good instance of Jenson's improvement upon Da Spira's letter, has gained rather than lost in Mr. Rogers' hands. 'The most noticeable difference, however, between the original Jenson type and the Centaur founts is the distribution of weight. When Mr. Rogers began to make enlargements of the original he was Hat once struck by the pen-like character of the lower-case," a character, indeed, which has been strengthened rather than weakened in his own drawings. The calligraphic basis of the design which evades the eye in the smaller sizes is beautifully seen in the 72 point whose beauty more than justifies illustration here. 'In the book sizes of the type, i.e. 18 point and below, the face disposes itself on the page with a unique grace, canying the sense ofthe text with an easy and modest individuality.' In the meantime several other types were cut in

IN THE NAME OF CHRIST: WHO THROUGH HIS DIVINE SPLENDOR ILLUMINATES THE WORLD. AMEN T HAS APPEARED TO ME TO be an undertaking which would re.. dound to the common advantage of all men, that I should in this little dis, ~~ course ofmine set forth to everypeople the extreme usefulness of the works printed in the famous city of Venice, especially of those which are from the excellent workshop of Master Nicolas Jenson, the Frenchman. And in order that what is maimed &, imperfeCt be not bought &,prizedasthe equal ofthe best, and that bad printing be not so praised as to cause men to negled &, not purchase what has been printed with the utmost care and pains.. taking, I made up my mind to communicate this letter to the public. For the excellent Master Nicolas Jenson employs proofreaders who are skilled in both languages, &, he seeks out the most famous men ofleaming &, great' er numbers ofthem.with the result thatworks

Ludlow Eusebius



America, stemming from the same source, two of which I shall note here. The American Type Founders Company had offered to buy my design for commercial cutting, but at a price which did not tempt me. They then cut Cloister Old Style, a modified version of Jenson's type which preserved its proportions but thickened its line. Later they cut Cloister Light, which was a nearer approximation in weight but lost a great deal of the vigor of the original by more rigid designing. In 1923 the Ludlow Typograph Company commissioned the late Ernst F. Detterer to design a type face based on Jenson. Detterer was a devoted lover of books and types and had studied letter designing in several schools in this country and in libraries and museums abroad, later teaching the subject at the Chicago Normal College and at the Art Institute School. The 16-point size was completed in 1927 and called Nicolas Jenson. It was a much more faithful reproduction of Jenson's letter than Centaur or Cloister. It was later recut and re-fitted for more practical use on Ludlow machines, and an excellent Italic was designed to accompany it by R. Hunter Middleton in 1929. It was named Eusebius, from Jenson's first book. A specimen of the present form is shown on page 67. There are many other Roman faces now in

CENTAUR use that are more or less reminiscent of Jenson, but they vary from it too much to be considered in this brief survey. On the following pages the whole range of Monotype Centaur is shown, from six point to seventy-two pomt.


DURING THE REIGN OF QUEEN ANNE. THE AUGUSTAN AGE OF ENGLISH UTERature, our printing types were in such a stage of disgraceful inferiority. that most of the immortal productions of that period were originally printed on Dutch types. The Printers were naturally dissatisfied with the trouble andexpense of importing foreign types. which might have continued to the present time , had not the attention of William Caslon been directed to the art of Letter Founding. William Caslon was born in the year '692, at Hales-Owen, in Shropshire, where he served an apprenticeship to an engraver in steel. At an early period of life he settled in London; andhis taste




their accurateexecution.the notice of Mr. Watts. an eminent Printer. who was dissatisfied with the state of the existing Foundries, and who. by promises of support, induced him to undertake the establishmentof a new one. He likewise obtained the assistance of the celebrated Mr. Bowyer. and of Mr. Bettenham, who evinced an honourable solicitude for the improvement of British TypogRAPHY. THE DIFFICULTIES HE HAD TO SURMOUNT WERE NUMEROUS. HE HAD TO CQ:l9CQ:l

ACQUIRE A THEORETICAL AND PRACTICAL KNOWLEDGE of a complicated art. with which he was entirely unacquainted; to instruct his workmen in the subordinate branches; to superintend his whole manufacture; and to ensure success it was necessaryto surpass the production of his rivals. He had likewise to acquire a capital; and by prudence and econOMY EMERGE FROM THAT OBSCURITY AND POVERTY IN WHICH SKILLFUL CQ:l



ARTISTS ARE GENERALLY INVOLVED, WHILE THEIR talents, useless to themselves, enrich theit wealthy patrons. His success exceeded his own expectations and those of his friends. He put an end to the importation of foreign types, and completely eclipsed the productions of his rivals at horne. His Foundry is an uncommon instance OF HUMAN INDUSTRY AND PERSEVERANCE, AND IT SOON OBTAINED SO CQ:l


DECIDED A PREFERENCE THAT FOR UPWARDS OF half a century few works were printed with the Types of any other Foundry. William Caslon was respectable as a man, as he was eminent as a Letter Founder. Perhaps few individuals were ever more amiable in private life: his liberality to his workmen, his hospitality to his friends, and his general benevolence, were distinguished. At the close of his life he became a Justice of the Peace for Middlesex; and having taken his eldest son into partNERSHIP, RETIRED TO A HOUSE AT BETHNALL GREEN, WHERE HE

DIED, JANUARY 23, 1766, AT THE ADVANCED age of seventy-four. His Foundry was first carried on at Helmet Row, Old Street, from whence it was removed to Ironmonger Row, and ultimately to Chiswell Street, where it is still conducted by a descendant ( 182 3). He was thrice married, and left two sons and a daughter, all by his first WIFE. HIS ELDEST SON WILLIAM, SUCCEEDED HIM IN THE t,()Q



FOUNDRY; HIS YOUNGEST SON, THOMAS, was an eminent bookseller in Stationer's Court. The reputation of the Foundry was maintained, but did not encrease, during the life of its second possessor. He added little to the Foundry and did not inherit the genius and enterprising spirit ofhis father, whose t,()Q



INSTRUCTIONS, HOWEVER, RENdered him a good practical Letter Founder. He married Miss E. Cartlitch, a lady distinguished both by beauty and abilities, by whom he left two sons, William and Henry. He died in 1778,

INTESTATE, IN CONSEQUENCE of which the Foundry was inherited in equal shares by his widow and sons, the elder of whom, Mr. William Caslon, was the actingpartner. Mr.WilliamCaslon,III.

MADE FEW ADDITIONS TO the Foundry in the interval between his father's death and 1793, in which year he sold his share to his mother and to his sister-in-law. Mr. Henry Caslon married Miss E. Rowe, a descendant ofthe ancient family whose

MONUMENTS AT HACKney are so conspicuous. He died in 1788, leaving one son, to whom and to his widow he bequeathed his share of the Foundry. From this point to 1798 the Foundry was at its lowest ebb. The perserverance of other Founders had at length overcome the partiality of Printers

FOR THE ELZEVIR shapes; and Mrs. Caslon, though a woman of considerable talents, and also indefatigable activity.was,

FROM HER SEX, unfit to conduct the foundry, and was too prepossessed in favor of the productions of

William Caslon.


AN EXQUISITE PAINTING WAS ruined by the flavorous, sticky juice known as benzoin, and the August sun caused a fragment ofblack pine wax to ooze out on the velvet quilt covering.




THE PUBLIC, AMAZEDTO view the quickness and dexterityofthe juggler, jeered at hirnfor acting so queerly; he was awkward and a lazybones.




FARBACK in my patch Zinnias Jauntily vie with the glorious phlox in full blossoming. •



345 6 7 89 ';:



The quick CQ>

brown fox JUlllPS over •

ye Iazydog andstirsup · ••• T) a11 t hi1S.-,


TAIL-PIECE Even while this book was going through the press the Centaur has been taking a new lease on life, and now seems likely to round out the term implied by the name. He has been clipped and curried and brought under new controls (Commercial Controls, in fact) by being harnessed to a type-writer. In time, no doubt, he will be able to take dictation, but at present his command of English is limited to only a few words, and these are strung together in a manner reminiscent of James Joyce. A specimen of this newest performance is shown on the following page.

>aginate get ensign pin intensity sage pianist saw ings seat winning yet destiny appendage dissipate instigate pan indent gin patentee sedate spend set vitty yen as dependent did addenda eddy pagan is iaw sinew pipe sad tape syndi tsetse watt dispense aisy ate ease gassing indigent passage nap pipettes wny adenitis destine age awning legean degign an patina sandy spinet tangent tend 19ate dentate at stade tepid din awe aspen satinette enet insensate gag net pageant eat wedding yes sit .e asepsis asinine designate despise diastasis gneiss :d insipidity it gist nitwit dingy Payee pedanted sateen seepage dip distant day singing piety dew se sepia penitant petite weed winding yes wise an west yawn, tea seen stingy states tin sip windings y pay intestate stand stannite stated stipend tenets tee siege essay estate nip nasty wages wait wapitis sday yaw weep pentane peseta satiny gang pageant s its gig epinasty enead nay past easy dependents dig asignee asininity date wan sap tenant seepage :lgent say tap seed ten way wasp sapidity pendend iness satiate senate pig eye edit gas dead wand aid want satity edits egest egg engage engine ewe get Ip etesian i sad tangent tag spend sag tape tan spinet indent lp stade sat stand saw tend tawnt ten say tenet sip oid tea nineteen test stingy tetany stipend gipped lite seat twisting sew syndi patented sandy gneISS sanity pawn sapid payee pedant satin pipette sides daintiness die wages wag adapt aid dais dye waits pe daisy did wasp want waste dead density adema en wedding way watt date asignee ate despite end Imperfect Trial Fount

Colophon The original edition of this book was designed by Bruce Rogers and set in the 1929 Monotype hot-metal version of his Centaur type. For this new edition the Introduction has been set in a digitized version of the original foundry Centaur from 1914, drawn by Jerry Kelly for the Nonpareil Type Foundry in 2008.