Spring Wayzgoose: Printing Types – Their History Forms and Use by Daniel Updike

Becoming a print historian is like being a time traveller. Here is my Tardis! Updike's two-volume tome of the history of typography, is an excellent primer into our shared history of printing. Authored originally from a series of his lecture talks from 1911-1916, Printing Types published in 1922 was intended as a practical and historic record, to inspire contemporary printers of the early twentieth century (and beyond). Updike's texts are beautifully illustrated with reproductions of celebrated examples of print that bring centuries of printing history alive for the modern scholar. 


My copy is very special to me. Its value is not in it being a first edition. This is Volume Two of the second edition, and second printing, published in 1951. A personal value for me is in the monogram of its previous owner, Peter Isaac.


Peter Isaac established the British Book Trade Index (BBTI), in 1983, at the University of Newcastle. For my PhD study, Birmingham during the long nineteenth century, presents a case study in the development and deployment of the sanserif. The database is an exceptional tool, which records approximately 959 records for printers trading in Warwickshire, with a majority of 779 records in Birmingham. Since 2005, Dr Maureen Bell and Dr John Hinks have maintained the BBTI database, which has recently relocated to the Bodleian Library, in 2015. The BBTI is an excellent tool for Print Historians, for myself it demonstrates the diversity of occupation in Birmingham during my period. 


Time traveling back to the early twentieth century and to Updike for the final word today, on display types of the nineteenth century, in particular his beautifully measured description of the Fat Faces of Robert Thorne as 'the vilest form of type invented!'.

Photo: A. Kulman  

Photo: A. Kulman  

David Osbaldestin

David Osbaldestin is Deputy Course Director of Graphic Communication at Birmingham City University (BCU) and he has taught internationally for 15 years. Through his studies at Reading University, he has developed his research in Typographic and Printing History, and is currently a PhD researcher investigating the Sanserif in Britain. A practicing typographer and graphic designer, David manages the BCU live creative agency; a student led design studio and enterprise initiative. He has recently supervised a KTP and KEEN Supervisor facilitating two European research projects in Digital Brand Design funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), and the University of Wolverhampton. Recent papers: Birmingham’s nineteenth century printers and the use of the sanserif, The form of the book, Book History Research Network Study Day, BCU, Birmingham, December 2014. Sanserif; the face of profit, purity and power, Landmarks in Printing: from origins to the digital age, The Printing Historic Society, St Brides, London, November 2014.