Page 12 - January 2014
P. 12

Derek Nuttall (9693)

MORE                                             mesh in a small frame – a bit like a miniature
ON                                               silk-screen frame. The leƩers on the mesh
LETRASET                                         were weƩed with a brush, the frame turned
                                                 over and the sƟcky leƩer pressed down onto
THE ‘Name the Typeface’ compeƟƟon in the         the art work. A leaflet explaining this process,
October issue of Small Printer showed a Dry      together with a sheet of ‘Playbill’ has survived
Transfer face which I recognised but whose       in my file. Even in its early years, Letraset had
name I could not remember. This set me           a large repertoire of around 200 typefaces.
searching for a catalogue of Letraset faces      By 1977, the method of transferring leƩers
which I knew I had filed away somewhere but       had changed to the system many readers will
could not find! About a month later, the file      recall and a broadsheet of that year shows
labelled ‘Letraset, etc.’ turned up (in a place  around 400 faces. By this Ɵme, dry-transfer
I had forgoƩen!). Not only does this file         was a major graphic arts tool and the firm
contain a 212pp major catalogue, dated 1978      had gone public. But, inevitably, its popularity
                                                 and use rapidly declined, first with the coming
SET ME SEARCHING                                 of photo-seƫng and then computers. In its
FOR A CATALOGUE OF                               heyday, Letraset’s range included: Letratone,
LETRASET FACES WHICH                             Instant Dry Colour, Letrasign, Letrafilm,
I KNEW I HAD                                     Instantext, Art Sheets, and Architectural
                                                 Symbols – as well as a range of drawing
and priced at 50p, but also several actual       instruments.
sheets of faces and catalogues or broadsheets
of similar adhesive leƩering from rival          Incidentally, my 1978 catalogue includes the
suppliers. These include Blick Dry Print (1964)  face ‘Quicksilver’, in sizes 36, 48 and 72pts,
which only had a range of eight typefaces –      with an aƩribute to Dean Morris.
Gill, Gill Bold, Grot. No.9, Times Bold, Profil,
Clarendon, Cartoon, and Sapphire – a pack of     Many thanks Derek. This brings to mind the
any of these faces was priced at 2s. 3d. (21p)   work I did for my Degree dissertaƟon in 1983.
as against the 7s. 6d. (37p) for a single sheet  My illustraƟons were all maps of the railway
of Letraset. There is also a broadsheet dated    network in Ireland, and I spent many hours
July 1966 showing the 28 faces offered by         rubbing down the Letraset leƩers for these.
PresleƩa, who charged 3s. (15p) for black and
4s. (20p) for white alphabets. An American       I was so paranoid about the map pages being
rival of Letraset was Art Type, of which my file  damaged when the Polytechnic scanned
contains a number of sheets.                     them for their records that I wrote a note in
                                                 pencil on each of the pages to say “Do not
Letraset was formed in May 1959 and rapidly      rub”. When I look back at the book it looks so
developed aŌer a shaky start. Originally, the    primiƟve compared to what we can produce
system used sheets of leƩers that had to be      now.
cut off their backing sheet and stuck onto a
                                                                       Kim Lowe, Assistant Editor

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