Notebook, Typography

1940s/50s font catalogues from Soho skip

Notebook: 1 October 2015 | TYPOGRAPHY

I found these font catalogues tossed in a skip full of builders’ rubble in a quiet Soho back street in the 1980s.

Type faces for Books was published by the Aylesbury printer Hazell, Watson & Viney and has a range of type specimens for book work with 19 different fonts set in a variety of point sizes and leadings. Colour tinted borders have been used to define typical page sizes of the time.



My favourite of the three is Book Types by William Clowes, the Suffolk based book printer. This catalogue has a huge range of texts set in different fonts and sizes and on different types of stock – rough old ‘Antique’ papers through to glossier ‘Art’ papers – all in order to help the typographer select a good, readable font “calculated to soothe the eye of the reader rather than distract it … and strike a nice balance between appearance and utility” as the book’s preface explains.

I’ll still sometimes dip into these catalogues whenever I have to select a text font for a new project.