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Counterpunch: Making Type in the Sixteenth Century, Designing Typefaces Now Paperback – 10 Dec 1996

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Paperback, 10 Dec 1996
£472.43 £336.43
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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Hyphen Press (10 Dec. 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0907259065
  • ISBN-13: 978-0907259060
  • Product Dimensions: 14.5 x 1.8 x 22.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,389,689 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Typography is still dominated by letterforms from the first one hundred years of European printing. Where were the processes and attitudes that lie behind these forms? Fred Smeijers is a type desinger who learn to design and cut punches: the key instruments with which metal type is made. This book is a work of practical history, with much contemporary relevance.


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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Fred Smeijers revails a whole new theory about how punchcutters operated in 'the lead age'. That this is of use to a modern, digital typeface-designer may surprise a lot of people, but if you read this book, you'll know it. Brilliantly illustrated by Fred himself, and the typeface used, the 'Renard', has all the potency to beat a lot of so called 'serious serifs'. He may seem very direct in his choise of words, but perhaps its because he is right!?
Read and enjoy!
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By A Customer on 10 Sept. 1997
Format: Paperback
If you are a student interested in Typography, than you have to read this book. It is not only about punchcutting in its techniques but provides a lot of basic information on the subject type in general. Because of his direct and logic way of writing Fred Smeijers succeeds in explaining you the most complex things you where always confused about before (method of handcasting type, old techniques, the historical connections). He also explains what we can learn from all that for now and the future.
It is greatly illustrated, beautifully designed and so lively written that you have to read it like a novel, not able to stop anymore. I hope Fred Smeijers continues writing so interesting books.
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Format: Paperback
I was surprised by Mr. Smeijers ability to speak volumes of relevance about the digital era. As a student interested in typography and type design I was enthralled. I couldn't put it down.
This book is a must read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wonderful book on the history of Typeface Design, perfect to understand deeper the art behind one of the most understated professions.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars 9 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest historical reconstructions 22 Jan. 2005
By wiredweird - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an exceptional contribution to the history of printing. The book centers on the punch, that unique object that is eventually copied into the matrices, movable type, and printed results that are more familiar. Smeijers started by studying the literature, printing tools, and printed artifacts that are still available. That wasn't enough - he taught himself the craft of making (or "cutting") the punches, learning a lot from the tool and die machinists who preserve much of the skill that Smeijers needed. After his eye became trained to the marks of tool on steel, he realized that a whole craft existed and had nearly vanished without a trace. That was the skill of making the tools to make the tool, creation and use of the counter-punch.

Along the way, he fell in love with the metal that he shaped into punches. He became quite lyrical about it: "... you feel nothing but delight in this substance, with such a strong and fine substance, which we call steel." He even became jealous of the old-timers, who remember alloys of the past that yielded even more gracefully to the punchcutter's caress. I have to admit, I've worked metal (though not steel), and I know just how that passion developed.

There's more about the history of letterforms and the punchcutters that brought them to life, and about the pleasures there are in being an amateur historian. There's more, too, about current and future practice in type design. This brings us to the one point where I disagree with Smeijers, a statement that I just can't believe he made. He mentions letters on screens, objects that he lumps together as "anything that can carry information and which is able to refresh itself." Earlier, he gave lengthy descriptions of the difference between letterpress and laser printer results, in sharpness of edge and many other dimensions. All those same differences, and more, distinguish CRTs from plasma panels or LCDs, and all the different LCDs from wall displays to cell phones. Perhaps he has since learned to look at modern displays the same way he looks at the older media, or maybe another writer will need to make the distinctions.

The only real reason to criticize this book would come from incorrect expectations. It's not directly about how a modern typographer can use modern tools to get the daily jobs done. It's about the practices of times past - they do bear on today's work, but only in subtle and indirect ways.

Highly recommended for the serious typographer or historian of western technology.

//wiredweird
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 19 Feb. 2015
By Thomas Maloney - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
unique and interesting, well written
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars About the cover 29 July 2000
By D. Earls - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mr Smeijers has crafted a fine book, as all three other reviews have noted. Incisive, insightful, instructive.
Look closely at the cover of this volume. After you've read it, and understand the counterpunch/punch process, you see that the entire story is told on the cover in a bit of brilliant graphic design.
0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars 22 July 2014
By Alexander Livinsky - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
good
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Things only a punchcutter could tell us 17 Jan. 2002
By Peter Marquis-Kyle - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a wonderful book. To write it, Fred Smeijers looked closely at printed books and type punches in museums. He read contemporary accounts of sixteenth century type making. And, informed by his experience as a digital type designer, he understood the problems the sixteenth century type makers faced and how they solved them. Some of these problems, like readability, economy and visual texture, are still with us.
Most remarkably, he also taught himself to make his own steel type punches - his practical experiments shone new light on the subject and showed the implausibility of some accepted accounts of how things were done.
The book is engagingly written. It's a visual delight too, with text set in the author's `Renard' type and illustrated with his pencil sketches.
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