Brian's History of Communication Design Blog

Weekly exposition on recent learnings.


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final post

For my final posting, I wanted to share the photos I took on our class trip to the Vancouver Public Library’s Special Collections floor. We saw some amazing books.

The first three photos are of an abbess’ Book of Days, an incunabula on vellum.

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We then saw a leaf from the Gutenberg bible.

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This was followed by an early book, printed in Venice. The page was densely covered in type.

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Of particular interest to me was a book fo Martin Luther’s works, in Latin, that had been owned by William Morris. One has to wonder how much influence the typesetting and type design had on Morris himself.

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To contrast against Morris, we also looked at Owen Jones’ Grammar of Ornament.

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There was a classic example of Morris’ work available as well. True to form, the¬†frontispiece¬†was more elaborate than the inner pages.

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Finally, we looked at Owen Jones’ masterpiece, his two volume work on Alhambra. It was exquisite and reminded me of all the work I’d done on Islamic themes.

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Changing Book Design

One of the slides we had a brief look at in class was a classic example of Victorian book cover design, The Pencil of Nature.

The Penicl of Nature

This dates to 1844. What amazes me is the similarities and differences in what William Morris was doing nearly 50 years later in book design.

William Morris Book Design

We still have an ornate sense of decoration, albeit an organic one, but there has been a shift from blackletter typeface to a more humanist transitional typeface (designed by Morris). Morris also uses a a more traditional canon (dating back to Gutenberg) for the layout of the page, instead of centering it.