although avid doesn’t actually describe it, i am most certainly an avid jan tschichold fan. i was thrilled when christoper burke’s book active literature was published a few years ago. the day it arrived i sat in bed and read it through. i was thrilled to see so many wonderful and rare examples of tschichold’s book designs. many i was seeing for the first time. i believe quite a few are from felix weider’s collection. his collection continues to be a wonder, i’m so envious. (he posted his 700th book. don’t miss it.) in order to collect tschichold i must search ebay and the annual international book fairs. i come across a copy of die neue typographie from time to time, but rarely do i come across other titles by tschichold. mr. weider continues to share his finds, made easier by the fact that he lives in switzerland. however, on rare occasions i have discovered a book that i have never seen before. like the example i’m sharing today. is this designed by tschichold? most likely not, but it is certainly ‘from the school of.’ according to burke, tschichold did work for lund humphries in the late 30s, designing the penrose annual in 1938. this little book, structure drill in chinese, is from 1945. i know tschichold moved to england, but i don’t think it was until much later. i will need to reread burke to be sure. many of tschichold’s familiar typographic elements are repeated here. the use of type in a box; a slab serif; the use of the city typeface; the change of type weight for emphasis; the asymmetric layout. all these clearly reference tschichold. i have provided the title page from another book designed by tschichold which uses almost the same layout. (mr weider has a couple more images of this book.) what do you think: tschichold or not? mr. burke, what do you think? close, right?
what it says means very little other than being curious. pattern and color are what is appeal-
ing. where was this found? one of my secret places to explore is libraries at resort hotels. it seems travelers bring their books and leave them behind. fourteen years ago, when i was first married, we traveled to bali. that was the first of five glorious trips. after the first one, i realized that when you are relaxed, you wake up early, take part in an activity—in my case a hike through the rice paddies—return for breakfast and have the whole day to read. hence my rummaging through the hotel library. (don’t worry i left fourteen books behind.) i looked at this book and fell in love with its simplicity and beauty. i have talked about my love of repetition before and i just love orange. this is the most beautiful orange. as part of this blog, i need to give this a category. it is neither typography, series, nor anything other than a book. i have lots of books. i should have a category for ‘interesting’ or ‘i just like it.’ yes, that’s it:
i just like it.
my father looms large. mostly because he said very little. but what he did say, i remember. when i was a kid, he would go into work on saturday mornings and I would often accompany him. instead of having me hang out at his office, he would drop me off at myers magic shop. his office was on first avenue north, just a block away from pete’s famous hot dogs, a hole in the wall where you would stand eating your hot dog and polishing the subway tile at the same time. the magic shop was close by. i would spend hours watching and practicing tricks. my dad and i took only a few trips together but one was to a magic convention. as i got older, i went into the office less and less. i remember one occasion he asked me to come along; i must have been around 19 or 20 at that point. my dad drove a 1968 327 camaro. simple, basic, no extras. he was decidedly a ‘buy american’ kind of guy. i got into the car and made the decision not to say anything until he spoke first. not as a challenge or with any anger, just as a test. the drive on a saturday morning took only about 15-20 minutes. as we drove through red mountain, we passed the exit for 8th avenue south and st. vincent hospital, where there was a sign for a company, associated doctors. the owner was one of my father’s customers and a friend. maybe ten minutes had passed. i couldn’t stand the silence any longer, so i asked him about how hospitals make money. a business question, just to have him talk. i never saw him read a novel although i gave him several. he said, ‘they charge fees.’ that’s all. so much for conversation. on another occasion, and i don’t remember how it came up (maybe he thought i was arrogant, he certainly thought i was full of myself), he said ‘everyone has a horn to blow. just remember it’s best if yours is collecting dust in the corner.’ i have always thought this was good advice and i have tried to keep it as a mantra, yet it seems i’m going against that advice here. sightunseen was kind enough to visit me and my collections and write a little something about them. they offer some very kind words, and i thought it was the least i could do send any interested parties to their fine blog. please visit them—and come back and see me, too!