Herbert Spencer [Editor]
London: Lund Humphries
(December 1962. First edition [New Series].
8.25 x 10.75 inches
Slim quarto. Printed thick wrappers. Printed and embossed dust jacket.
68 pp. Elaborately illustrated text and advertisements printed on multiple paper stocks.
Watching Words Move 48-page booklet threaded in as issued. Spencer’s legendary experimental typographic journal is coveted by multiple constituencies since Spencer vocally championed emerging trends such as Concrete Poetry, Semiotics and avant-garde Book Design. Embossed braille jacket lightly nicked to edges, otherwise a nearly fine copy.
Printed on a variety of paper stocks. Reproduction techniques for this issue include letterpress and offset-lithography. Paper stocks include matte and uncoated. Custom Binding includes a tipped-in braille insert and a bound-in 48-page booklet by Brownjohn, Chermayeff and Geismar.
Typographica was the brainchild of founder, editor, designer and renowned typographer Herbert Spencer, and had a brief life, totalling 32 issues published between 1949 and 1967. But its influence stretched and stretches far beyond its modest distribution and print runs of the time. For many graphic designers, Typographica is something of an obsession, to be collected if and when found, savored, and poured over for designs, and techniques not seen since.
Spencer never intended to turn a profit, so no expenses were spared in production (just like Alexey Brodovitch’s Portfolio). Different papers, letterpress, tip-ins, and more were all employed in the presentation of an eclectic range of subject matter: Braille, locomotive lettering, sex and typography, typewriter faces, street lettering, matches, and avant-garde poetry all found their way into the magazine.
- Reading by Touch by Donald Bell
- Pat McAuliffe of Listovel by Brian MacMahon
- Lettering in Coventry Cathedral by Nicolette Gray
- Typewriter Type Faces by Alan Bartram
- Penguin Covers- A correction
- Watching Words Move by Brownjohn, Chermayeff and Geismar (48-page booklet)
Watching Words Move was a work of experimental typography that used letters in a single typeface, Helvetica, to achieve surprising results — motion and narrative, emotion and humor. First published in 1962 it was one of the experimental works that came out of the short-lived partnership of Robert Brownjohn, Ivan Chermayeff and Tom Geismar — before Brownjohn’s heroin addiction caused the firm too disband and forced Brownjohn to seek a country with more liberal drug laws.
Urbane, prolific and unfailingly modest, Spencer was a reformer dedicated to improving standards of design in a field dominated by the printing industry’s outdated conventions. But he was also an aesthete with a connoisseur’s eye for the wild modernist innovations with letterforms and layout of the 1920s. Spencer launched the seminal publication, Typographica, in 1949, when he was 25, and edited, designed and sometimes wrote for it for 18 years. Equally at home publishing one of the first articles in Britain about concrete poetry (then an international phenomenon), or an illustrated study of the design challenges presented by Braille, he was a new kind of designer-editor, able to think both visually and verbally, and to fuse images and words in meaningful new relationships.