there was a time when my goal was to collect a book from all the great presses: aldine, aldus, bodoni. not sure where this idea originated, rather 19th-century, i think. i purchased a few but my enthusiasm waned and my goal with it. what i did continue to focus on was great title pages. here is one of my favorites by ee cummings. most typography students know the work of ee cummings, i think. he was fond of using different ways to express himself typographically and he did not always follow the conventions. there is a word for this: orthography. this has nothing to do with typography; follow the link and you can read a better explanation than i can give you. you don’t hear designers speak much of this, however. i remember it mostly from my english classes in college. cummings was a master of understanding how to emphasize what he wanted to say. visually as well as when read out loud. i am no cummings scholar but have always liked his book the enornous room and loved how visual his poems are. i have never really appreciated poetry and i regret this. this wonderful title page has a beautiful arrangement. it is just right. the designer as author. rather, the author as designer. i have never done any research to discover how involved cummings was with the typesetting of his works. yet another life path gone by and not taken.
what to collect? it seems i have just about everything. i guess where you hunt determines what you collect. i go to paper fairs, so i collect paper. i don’t collect bottles, but if i went to a bottle collector’s show i would certainly find something worth purchasing. actually, i do think i have a few interesting bottles sitting on my shelves. a couple weeks ago there was a post card show here in nyc. at almost every paper show there are some post card dealers. they have row after row of long boxes, often stacked on top of each other containing card after card. all categories by topic: flowers, state, country, etc. there is usually a row of chairs lined up for anyone to sit and rifle through the thousands of postcards. i am not one of these people. last year there was a huge show of walker evans‘ collection of postcards and a lovely book that went with it. i controlled myself and didn’t buy the book. i also missed the show. postcards are not my thing. look for the book; it’s sure to be a collector’s item. once, after walking around a particular fair, i sat down at a dealer with covers who also had lots of postcards. i always get the question, ‘what do you collect?’ i am embarrassed to answer. you would think i wouldn’t be so ashamed, but i am. i decided that i should make an extra effort. i discovered—after looking through cover after cover—that each envelope was always empty. since the value of the cover is in the stamp or cancelation, it makes no sense to save the contents. i am so disappointed by this. on one occasion i did find something special and it was the start of an ongoing collection. i call them x-y letters. in the 19th century, when paper was scarce, someone writing a letter was often short on paper or possibly conserving what they had. so after filling the page, they would turn it ninety degrees and continue writing. here are two examples of exactly that. amazing, right? i have about six examples of this. whenever i run across these i buy them. one example i misplaced/filed somewhere is an x-y-z letter. after writing both horizontally and vertically, the author turned the page 45 degrees and continued from there. truly remarkable. when i find it i will be sure to post it. i am continually amazed by the ways in which we communicate. enjoy.