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Re: Letterpress

           See The Exhibition Online, And Order Your Catalog.

I have worked for years in the computer and office products part of the
world. This discussion on Letterpress brings to mind what I saw many years
ago in the printer area. I also have been a letterpress printer for the past
25 years. I have followed the progress of computer generated type very

I worked for IBM servicing small printers etc. When the small dot matrix
printers hit the market, they were considered rough draft printers not
serious correspondence printers. As time went on, enterprising programmers
began writing software to make these printers do "letter quality" printing.
At first it was seen for what it was - no more, no less. But, as time went
on they became "accepted" by many in the marketplace. The quality of a fully
formed character was still recognized by those who took printing and the
look of correspondence seriously.

Today we are being asked to do the same thing - accept dot matrix printing
as being acceptable in the printing field. A computer generated character is
a bunch of dots regardless of how you want to cut it. They may be very small
dots, but they are still dots. Those who have worked with both fully formed
characters and computer generated characters have no problem recognizing the
difference. Some of the early Photo-Comp systems dealt with this issue the
same as metal type. A different negative for each size and weight of the
font. The original type designers worked to manage the balance between black
and white on the page as a whole. This balance changes as the size of the
type changes. Scaling of master faces in computer generated type may be an
efficient way to do things, but it certainly does not have the ability to
deal with balance.

As society and the generations change, I am sure that the issue I make about
balance will become less and less important. Change is always a compromise.
While we are able to get more type on a page in less time, it ain't
necessarily better type. The Programmers are working hard to answer many of
these questions. I feel there have been many advances in computer generated
type and there will be more. As Printers and Artists we need to be able to
understand the principals of style and design which letterpress addressed
for 500 years. We then need to apply those standards to computer generated
type as we become more accepting of this compromise.

prints by AJ
Austin Jones
Point Pleasant, WV USA

----- Original Message -----
From: "Jules Siegel" <siegel@CAFECANCUN.COM>
Sent: Tuesday, October 09, 2001 9:31 AM
Subject: Re: Letterpress

> > From: Gerald Lange <Bieler@WORLDNET.ATT.NET>
> > Organization: Bieler Press
> > Reply-To: Bieler@worldnet.att.net
> > Date: Mon, 8 Oct 2001 22:27:50 -0700
> > Subject: Re: Letterpress
> > I'd like to think I am a "good printer," and would "know the
> > and I'd like to think I do, but I suggest you are wrong regarding your
> > statement" In digitizing some of the beautiful old fonts, certain subtle
> > qualities of the letters were lost." And what, may I ask, do you presume
> > that these "certain subtle qualities" are?
> How about optical compensation? These metal fonts were cut to different
> specifications for different sizes. Standard digital faces aren't
> compensated, although I believe that some high-end digital typesetting
> systems do provide it. Adobe's Multiple Master system now enables you to
> accomplish this automatically in InDesign (a truly great layout program,
> the way) with typefaces that support the feature.

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