Telling the Tale of Types

Monday, November 27, 2017, 6:30 - 8:30pm

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metal type

A free, public lecture by Stan Nelson on the history of early typesetting. Registration is requested.

The invention of printing with movable types took place in the mid-fifteenth century, and from the very beginning the challenge was not just producing multiples of texts, but to do so in an attractive and convincing manner.  How did the early printers accomplish this so successfully, and in what ways did the process evolve?  Letterpress remained a dominant printing process through much of the 1970s and is undergoing a renaissance today.  In what ways did "modern" technology affect the manufacture of metal printing type, and will such types continue to be developed and produced?

Raymond "Stan" Nelson is a practicing punchcutter, typefounder, and letterpress printer who had the great good fortune to work in the Graphic Arts Collection at the Smithsonian's National Museum of  American History from 1972 to 2003, and continues to serve there as a Museum Specialist Emeritus.  Stan's extensive knowledge of printing and typefounding history, as well as over forty years of practical experience with the oldest technologies for making printing types, gives him a unique perspective when examining the tools and methods connected with the production of metal letter.  Stan can be seen making type in videos available on YouTube, as well as in the BBC production The Machine that Made  Us, hosted by Stephen Fry.

This lecture is part of the Herb Lubalin Lecture Series of Type@Cooper. The series is sponsored by the Herb Lubalin Study Center of Design and Typography at The Cooper Union, a public graphic design archive which places emphasis on a hands-on access to a wide range of design and typography ephemera. Recordings of the events are posted to Vimeo thanks to a generous sponsorship from Hoefler & Company.

Located in the Frederick P. Rose Auditorium, at 41 Cooper Square (on Third Avenue between 6th and 7th Streets)

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.