Alan Kitching’s Founts from the Typographic Workshop

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Published:  March 26, 2015
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Alan Kitching’s A-Z of Letterpress: Founts from the Typographic Workshop is a stout new publication showcasing Kitching’s extensive wood-letter fount collection. With a jacket by Pentagram, each image in the book was printed by hand (before being offset printed for the publication) in Kitching’s workshop on a Vandercook no. 3 proof press after Kitching — founder of The Typography Workshop and visiting lecturer and fellow at the Royal College of Art — and his late wife Celia Stothard spent a year cleaning and restoring the type.

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Printed predominately in black on a heavy uncoated stock, and featuring just four colour highlights, the book is divided into alphabetised chapters. Each chapter shows a single letter in up to 39 founts (see images above), and is preceded by an entire alphabet in black (see image below), with the upcoming chapter letter pulled out in one of the four colour highlights: gold, royal blue, red, magenta. By grouping the letters and not the letterforms, your eye is able to inspect the contrasting designs of the same letter, rather than examining the cohesiveness of a single alphabet. Each spread, assembled by Kitching and Angus Hyland, is a curious study of form — the letters coming together to shape interesting spreads that defy a quick flick-through.

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The book is accompanied by a master list of letterforms, plus a short introduction by John L. Waters. But the lack of words, the scattering of letters, creates the impression of artefacts presented as artefact. A-Z of Letterpress is a floating object of cultural and historical curiosity for us to observe and investigate and arrange for ourselves.

Published by Laurence King

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