A brand new review of The Rise and Fall of the Printers’ International Specimen Exchange
Alastair Johnston wrote a nice piece on Booktryst about The Rise and Fall of the Printers’ International Specimen Exchange.
Not all books have a plot, or a beginning and an end. I am not referring to Artists’ books or directories, but rather sample books, like catalogues or salesman’s specimens. And all periodicals have a trajectory: they are born, boom, and then decline and die. The Printers’ International Specimen Exchange, which ran from 1880 to 1896, is a scarce work today, but it is very important in the history of graphic design.
The Printers’ International Specimen Exchange demonstrates how an ephemeral publication can have a major impact on aesthetics and the quality of work. It also documents the growth of a movement known as “Artistic Printing” in the USA and “Leicester Freestyle” in England that ultimately gave birth to modernist typography, as seen in the work of Oscar Wilde, J. M. Whistler, and then in the twentieth century, in practitioners like Jan Tschichold, Karel Teige and Jack Stauffacher.
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