mirrorshard: Photo of a small leather-bound notebook, filled with mirror writing (Da Vinci)
[personal profile] mirrorshard
I've just got back from the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow, where I've been doing some light typography research - there's a couple of computer fonts available derived from Morris's Golden Type, and I wanted to compare the one I had to an original edition. So I went to look at a first edition of The Well at the World's End, which is set in Chaucer but was still wonderful, and a collected Keats bound in vellum. Only seven of those were made.

And the curatorial assistant there apologised for the fact that the Kelmscott Chaucer was out on loan. I turned down the offer to look through the Folio Society repro they had on display, because I couldn't justify it with this project, but next time I shall. And when I do get a chance at the real thing...

Anyway, it turns out that Scriptorium's True Golden font isn't a close replica - to be fair, it only claims to be "based on" the original, but with a name like that it's a bit misleading. The weirdest thing is that True Golden has no left double-quotes - it uses identical ones to the right double-quotes.

And looking at the Keats, Morris's double-quotes are perfectly normal. Nice three-lobed diamonds with an elegant curved tail/ascender, about twice the length of the dot, with the only peculiarity being that the left one has the dots centred at x-height and the right has them reaching up to the capitals, so they aren't on a level with each other.

There are a couple of other Golden-derived fonts out there, but I can't afford to go buying them on the offchance, so I've mailed these guys to ask about the reasoning behind it. I mean, it isn't the kind of thing you can do by accident.

Edit: Looking at P22 Morris Golden (since they have a custom-text previewer), they use the same backwards quote marks. Though theirs are nicer, and it'd be a much better font for large sizes. So presumably that was done at some point - I just need to work out when.

Date: 2010-02-04 08:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thekumquat.livejournal.com
My mum is an expert on type from that era (the Doves Press in particular) - I can ask her if you like? She's got a copy of the Doves font which she uses lots now, after years of insisting that Cobden-Sanderson had done the right thing throwing it in the Thames to avoid Emery Walker ever using it for 'profane purposes'.

Kelmscott Chaucers are lovely.

Date: 2010-02-04 08:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mirrorshard.livejournal.com
That would be wonderful, if you could - thank you!

Date: 2010-02-05 09:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thekumquat.livejournal.com
What is it exactly you're looking for - what the various quote marks look like in the original Morris Golden? And when the 'backwards' ones got used?

I assume you know of the Type Museum in Kennington?

Date: 2010-02-05 10:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mirrorshard.livejournal.com
That's basically it, yes. Thanks for the pointer to the Type Museum - I didn't, or if I did I'd quite forgotten, because I'm going about this project in a disgracefully amateurish way. I shall look into it, and if I find the energy head over there at some point.

[Edit: Bah, apparently they're closed for development at the moment anyway.]
Edited Date: 2010-02-05 10:30 am (UTC)

Date: 2010-02-14 07:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thekumquat.livejournal.com
OK, visited mum last week and raised the issue (she'd lost the email). And got shown books printed by Morris for half an hour (this is a usual occurrence when visiting, so it's not like I suffered any further on your account!)

THere's three Morris typefaces: Golden, which is the Roman one, and Chaucer and Troy which are two different sizes of English type. All of them were popular and copied and made into Linotype as soon as the tech was available.

Turns out re-creating a font from printed pages is rather difficult, as it's all in the spacing. Basically if it's not an authorised copy from around 1900 or an authorised linotype from the Morris estate, or a font derived from one of those, it's likely some dodgy geezer who's scanned some text in and is trying to make a quick buck. She says don't trust any font site unless they can provide their provenance for the font (usually a Linotype). And if it's under a few hundred quid don't believe what they say, either.

So most likely the fontmaker had the same problem we did looking for quote marks - not many in the pages we looked at. So the ones in the font are probably non-Morris and could be anything. Golden double quotes I found are simple 6 or 9-shaped apostrophes, and I suspect are simply two singles together.

Date: 2010-03-04 02:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mirrorshard.livejournal.com
Aha, thank you! I hadn't known about the Linotyping. The one I've been looking at is True Golden (http://new.myfonts.com/fonts/scriptorium/true-golden/)—the fontmaker seems to be a pretty competent artist type doing a lot of based-on stuff. They also do a "Kelmscott" font (http://new.myfonts.com/fonts/scriptorium/kelmscott/) based on the Chaucer type, which is certainly as readable in bulk as the original.

Golden double quotes I found are simple 6 or 9-shaped apostrophes, and I suspect are simply two singles together.

That's really interesting - the ones I found (though I had to check a couple of books, and eventually found them in the Keats) were more complex triple-lobed ones. I didn't find any singles to compare them with, but then I wasn't really looking. I shall have to do a more comprehensive survey when I get the chance.

Date: 2010-02-04 10:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] library-keeper.livejournal.com
If you're ever in the BL and would like to see one of our Kelmscott Chaucers (we have five!), let me know and I can arrange it.

Date: 2010-02-04 11:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mirrorshard.livejournal.com
Thank you - I may well take you up on that next time I'm there.

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