Walt Whitman “A Font of Type” folio: poem and essay

Folio on a Case of Metal Type
Cover of Folio
IMG_1572.JPG
IMG_1568.jpg
Folio on a Case of Metal Type
Cover of Folio
IMG_1572.JPG
IMG_1568.jpg

Walt Whitman “A Font of Type” folio: poem and essay

30.00

Walt Whitman was a printer and a typesetter long before Leaves of Grass, the first edition of which he and a friend set and printed. This letterpress-printed tribute to Whitman is a folded sheet, a folio, with his poem “A Font of Type” on the cover and an explanation of the history and specific meaning of its elements in an essay with illustrations and footnotes inside. The poem first appeared in 1888 in a collection called November Boughs.

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The Project

I’m the Designer in Residence at the School of Visual Concepts in Seattle for 2017, and this folio is one of several projects I’ve researched, designed, and printed. As a reporter and a printer, I looked for a connection, and found Whitman. This essay inside this folio combines historical research, in-person examination of first editions of Whitman’s work at the University of Washington’s special collections, and insight from my decades of typesetting and printing.

You can read the poem and then use the essay and research to get past the terminology in common use in Whitman’s time that’s opaque to us today to understand how he related setting type a letter at a time and the process of writing poetry.

This year, I’ve also printed a 64-page letterpress book in a limited edition of reported work on printing, type, and punctuation. That edition is sold out, but a regularly printed edition will be out this fall. Sign up to my low-volume mailing list for an update.

 

About the Paper

This folio  is printed on Rives paper, made in France by machine, but a single sheet at a time instead of in a continuous roll. It has two deckle edges and one torn edge in its full sheet, which I cut into four quarters. There’s one deckle edge on each folio, always on the cover at its right.

The paper is acid-free and 100% cotton, so it should last for a long, long time.

 

About the Printing, Type, and Images

I printed this work on a Vandercook proof press at the School of Visual Concepts. The type was set in Adobe InDesign, then produced as photopolymer printing plates, a form of relief printing plate, from which the folio was printed.

The poem on the cover is set in Adobe Caslon Pro. Interior copy is set in Cooper Hewitt, a typeface designed for the Smithsonian’s Cooper Hewitt Museum in New York.

The signature of Walt Whitman from his inscription in a first ­edition of November Boughs in the collection of the University of Washington. The manuscript image of the poem on the interior is from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s collection of Whitman papers. Images of type cases, a cabinet, and the type scale come from 19th century books about the craft of typesetting.