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What the Thames gives back [Feb. 17th, 2015|10:19 pm]
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Via makinglight, the story of Thomas J Cobden-Sanderson, bookbinder, printer, type designer and associate of William Morris. He established the Doves Bindery at Hammersmith, and later, with Emery Walker, the Doves Press, for which they designed a type face based on that of the 15th-century printer Nicolas Jenson. (There are sample pages here.) When the partners fell out, Cobden-Sanderson took the press's entire set of type to Hammersmith Bridge (it took him 170 trips and nine months), and threw it into the river; he wrote "To the bed of the River Thames, the River on whose banks I have printed all my printed books, I, the Doves Press, bequeath The Doves Press Fount of Type, – the punches, matrices and the type... And may the River, in its tides and flows, pass over them to and from the great sea for ever and ever, or until its tides and flow for ever cease... untouched of other use".

You can read this as tragedy or farce, or both. You can meditate on whether to respect the artist's wish that their work be destroyed, or you can try to recreate or rescue what has been lost. Designer Robert Green spent three years working on a digital version of the Doves type - and then he thought he couldn't regard the job as finished unless he at least tried to find the original type. So he went down onto the Thames foreshore and - story and pictures here.

Which naturally reminded me of this diary of a mudlark, passed on by asakiyume.

And of Billy and Charley - but that's a whole other story...

From: cmcmck
2015-02-18 08:13 am (UTC)
Having visited the Plantin Moretus museum in Antwerpen I'm so glad some people weren't so keen to destroy early printing faces, formes and machinery.

Early print history is a sideline I research from time to time.
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[User Picture]From: shewhomust
2015-02-18 10:51 am (UTC)
Ah, another reason to visit Antwerp!
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From: cmcmck
2015-02-18 11:44 am (UTC)
Such a great town!
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From: athenais
2015-02-18 03:36 pm (UTC)
Oh, how very cool. I saw something mentioned somewhere about it, but didn't follow up. What a beautiful typeface.
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[User Picture]From: shewhomust
2015-02-19 11:33 am (UTC)
Oh, me too! Such a great museum!
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[User Picture]From: asakiyume
2015-02-19 12:17 am (UTC)
I think it's *so excellent* that some of the type has been recovered. Unbelievable to think that he was able to find some samples after just *20 minutes* of standing in the spot where Cobden-Sanderson had stood to toss them.
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[User Picture]From: shewhomust
2015-02-19 11:32 am (UTC)
Yes, I love that he goes to the Port of London authorities, and they say (as your mother used to when you told her you'd lost something) 'Well, have you tried looking for it?' To be fair, he thought quite hard about where to look...
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