The Typophiles is a New York City organization, founded in the 1930s, which is devoted to the advocacy of fine typography. It’s name, typophiles, refers to those who loves printed matter and typography. In addition to hosting social events and lectures for its members, the group published books and other material, including chapbooks, such as this one, which is now housed in the MTSU Department of Art and Design Teaching and Historical Collections. The earliest type of chapbooks, dating from the sixteenth century, were inexpensive, unbound popular stories. Chapbooks were usually printed on a single sheet that was folded into books of 8, 12, 16 or 24 leaves. In the twentieth century, the term chapbook came to be used by by small pressed as a term for publications of 40 pages or so, usually of fiction or poetry, but they could be on any topic. This chapbook, which is Typophile Chapbook no. 57, was written by William J. Glick and offers a history of the career of the printer and publisher William Edwin Rudge. It was issued in 1984 and limited to 750 copies.
William Rudge (1876–1931) was a second-generation commercial printer who worked in the early twentieth century. Rudge was himself a typophile; he was devoted to “the ideal of producing books and printed matter in the most beautiful form,” as he is quoted as saying in the book. Known for his demand for excellence, he employed the finest typesetters and “he was constantly critical of his own work and always experimenting with new methods and processes in the hope of achieving finer results”.
The book includes reproductions of historic photographs of his printing house, including the cylinder press room, which contained enormous printing presses that each required several pressmen.
The Typesetting and Composition Room, shown below, was the pre-press area. It housed numerous typefaces and printer’s ornaments. In this area, typesetters would design the book and determine its format; signatures to be printed would be laid out; and formes constructed.
The chapbook reproduces a variety of title pages of the books produced by Rudge’s printing house, including books designed by Bruce Rodgers, Frederick Goudy, and other prominent American typographers.
The William Edwin Rudge chapbook is a tiny book filled with incomparable skills of bygone artisans, accompanying the story of a man who would settle for nothing but perfection.
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