Type: The Secret History of Letters

Cover - Type: The Secret History of Letters

Type is a guide through the history of our letters and a study of their power. From fashion through propaganda and the development of mass literacy, author Simon Loxley shows how typography has changed our world.

This book tells a great story on the advancements of printing; from the Gutenberg press to digital PostScripting, it’s narrative flows more like a story than a history book. It catalogues the tastes and trends have changed over the years, from ‘Old English’ Blackletter and Fractur styles to sans-serifs like Futura and Helvetica, detailing the social changes that affected them.

It’s not only the faces that changed, but the way the letters were typeset. Due to the physical constraints of the movable type, negative letter-spacing and leading wasn’t possible until the inset of digital technologies, but it soon became a fashionable trend.

There certainly were some interesting characters in the world of type design over the years. From the self-promoting Frederic Goudy to the eccentric Eric Gill, who liked to wear medieval-style smocks and lived a controversial personal life.

The technologies that fell by the wayside are also catalogued; technologies such as Letraset and Photosetting, which are now obsolete thanks to the capabilities of the Personal Computer.

It took me a while to get into the book, mainly as I wasn’t as interested in the very early history of Gutenberg, but the history from the 1900’s onwards really made up for it, and the changes that happened over the last 100 years were fascinating and also insightful.

Inner page - Type: The Secret History of Letters

Buy This Book if…

Want to know a little more about the history of printing and the people behind the letters? Don’t know your Caslon from your Goudy, or your Zapf from your Frutiger? I found it a fascinating read, with some real gems, giving you a real insight into the history of typography.

One thought on “Type: The Secret History of Letters

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Just My Type | Paul Randall

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