Monday, July 6, 2015

Lettering: John D. Williams, Master Penman

1829, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – January 1871, Albany, New York

1850 United States Federal Census
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Name / Age
Frances Williams 53
Lazarus Williams 23
Benjamin Williams 19
Aaron Williams 13
John Williams 21
Margaret Thomas 10

The Ohio Journal of Education
December 1854
Duff’s Mercantile College Advertisement
John D. Williams, the best off-hand penman in the United States, Professor of Commercial and Ornamental Penmanship.

Directory for 1856–’57 of Pittsburgh and Allegheny
Williams John D., teacher penmanship, Duff’s Col, bds St Charles

New-York Tribune
(New York)
February 14, 1859
Lecture on Writing.—Mr. JOHN D. WILLIAMS, Professor of Penmanship at Bryant & Stratton’s Mercantile College, will lecture THIS EVENING, commencing at 7 1/2 o’clock, at Room No. 23 Cooper Institute, on the “Principles of Writing involved in the Spencerian System.” The Lecture will be illustrative, and is open to the public.
S.S. PACKARD, Resident Principal.










1860 United States Federal Census
New York, New York
Name / Age
John D Williams 29 (Professor of Penmanship)
Isabella W Williams 24 (wife)
Henry G Williams 4 (son)

Trow’s New York City Directory, 1860–61
Williams John D. teacher, h 27 Barrow

Poughkeepsie Daily Eagle
(New York)
September 1864































Chicago Tribune
(Illinois)
September 5, 1865
State Fair.—Mr. John D. Williams, the great Pen Artist, will be on the Fair Grounds and exhibit his wonderful skill with the pen during the Fair.

Mr. Williams is Superintendent of the Ornamental Writing Department in Bryant, Stratton & Co.’s chain of Business Colleges. He is universally acknowledged to have no superior in his department in the country. His “heights” almost excel [illegible] herself—they are wonderful exhibitions of skill. 

Poughkeepsie Daily Eagle
(New York)
October 2, 1865
…We will further state, in our own behalf, that the prizes at this Fair ware awarded for specimens of Business Penmanship executed by Henry C. Spencer, and of Ornamental Penmanship executed by John D. Williams….

Williams and Packard’s Gems of Penmanship
John D. Williams, Silas Sadler Packard
D. Appleton & Company, 1867
























The Daily Journal
(Syracuse, New York)
February 19, 1867
Specimens of Penmanship

















Albany Evening Journal
(New York)
March 2, 1867
Business Notices.
Special Writing Class.—Those who are desirous of becoming excellent penmen should not fail to join the Special Writing Class for the month of March, commencing 4th inst.

The famous John D. Williams, Superintendent of Writing in the chain of Colleges, author of “Williams & Packard’s Gems of Penmanship,” will be present Monday evening and drill the class. This work, the most elaborate in business and ornamental styles, extant, is offered as premiums for the best improvement and specimens.

Buffalo Evening Courier and Republic
(New York)
May 1, 1867
Gems of Penmanship































Chicago Tribune
(Illinois)
May 4, 1867
Beautiful Penmanship.—The Bryant & Stratton Business College is renowned for its large display of fine Penmanship. The very next talent in the country is always connected with this institution. We understand that John D. Williams, the superintendent of ornamental writing in the chain of colleges, will spend a few weeks at this college, giving instruction to a normal class of writing [illegible]. Persons in the city or from a distance can join classes for this special instruction.

New York Tribune
December 9, 1867
Detail of New York Business College advertisement














Trow’s New York City Directory, 1868
Williams John D. teacher, h 302 W. 18th

Troy Daily Times
(New York)
December 17, 1870
John D. Williams of New York, a distinguished pen-artist and author, delivered a lecture on the progressive history of penmanship before the students of Bryant, Stratton & Carnell’s Troy Commercial College last evening.

Thirty-first Annual Report of the American Institute, of the City of New York, for the Years 1870–1871
Argus Company, 1871
Premiums
Awarded at the Thirty-ninth Annual Exhibition, 1870
I.—Department of Fine Arts and Education
Sixth Group.—Specimens of printing and bookbinding, books, stationery, ornamental penmanship, globes, maps, charts and all apparatus for instructing in science; tables and machines for calculation.
Award of Premiums
Group 6.—(Division II).
John D. Williams, 458 West Eighteenth street, New York, for a system of ornamental and business penmanship. Honorable mention.

Manual of Free-hand Penmanship
Alvin R. Dunton, B. Harrison, J. W. C. Gilman, John D. Williams, Silas Sadler Packard
J.W.C. Gilman & Company, 1877


Hill’s Album of Biography and Art, 1882

Hill’s Album of Biography and Art, 1882































































(Next post on Monday: Photo-Lettering’s 1969 Alphabet Yearbook)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Comics: Fred Iger, 1924–2015


Frederick Hillel “Fred” Iger was born in New York City on July 12, 1924. His birth date was in a public record at Ancestry.com. His parents were Morris Leib Iger and Lenore Schnapp, who married on July 2, 1921, according to the New York, New York, Marriage Index at Ancestry.com. Lenore, also known as Lena and Lee, was the sister of Ira Schnapp.

In the 1925 New York state census, Iger and his parents resided in the Bronx at 2244 Grand Avenue. His father was a restaurant worker.

The 1930 U.S. Federal Census recorded Iger, his parents and sister, “Tobie”, in the Bronx at 1165 Shakespeare Avenue. His father had changed his name to George and was the proprietor of a restaurant.

According to the 1940 census, the Iger family resided in Manhattan at 601 West 113th Street. The household included Sadie Schnapp, Iger’s maternal grandmother, whose husband, Max, had passed away April 2, 1936. Sadie’s passing was in mid-December 1944. Death notices on both of them were printed in the New York Times.

In the early 1940s Iger worked for Ben Sangor, whose studio produced comic book stories and art.

Iger enlisted in the army on December 10, 1943.

The Brooklyn Eagle (New York), June 16, 1946, published news of Iger’s engagement.


Mr. and Mrs. Harry Donenfeld of 211 Central Park West, Manhattan, announce the engagement of their daughter, Miss Sonia Donenfeld, to Frederick H. Iger, son of Mr. and Mrs. George Iger of Cedarhurst.

Miss Donenfeld was graduated from the Fieldston school and attended Olivet College. Mr. Iger attended New York University and served overseas with the army engineers. Mr. Donenfeld is the publisher of Superman comics. 
The marriage ended in divorce.

In 1947 Iger worked at Sangor’s American Comics Group, a comic book publisher that Iger would eventually own in the mid-1950s. Harry Donenfeld was a co-owner in Sangor’s studio and American Comics Group. Through Donenfeld, Iger was a co-owner in National Periodical Publications, later known as DC Comics.

The Nassau Daily Review-Star (Freeport, New York), September 16, 1949, reported the marriage of Iger’s sister’s.
Branch Girl Married at Hotel Plaza
Miss Toby Iger, daughter, of Mr. and Mrs. George Iger of Rugby road, Cedarhurst, and Irwin Levy, son of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Levy of New York city ware married yesterday.

The ceremony took place at the Hotel Plaza, New York city, Rabbi Louis L. Newman of Temple Rodov Sholom, New York city, officiating. A reception followed.

The bride wore a gown of champagne taffeta with matching accessories. She carried orchids of the same color.

Mrs. Irwin Donenfeld of Woodmere and Mrs. Frederick H. Iger of Great Neck, sister-in-laws of the bride, attended her. Frederick. H. Iger acted as best man for his brother-in-law.

Following a honeymoon to Bermuda, the couple will reside in Woodmere. Mrs. Levy graduated from Lawrence High school and the John Robert Powers Modeling school, New York city.

Mr. Levy, a graduate of New York University, is a navy veteran.
The 1950s were a turbulent time for the comic book industry. The Knickerbocker News (Albany, New York), December 4, 1951, published the following Associated Press report.
Comic Book Firms Oppose Any Ban on Magazines Depicting ‘Sordid Crimes’ 
New York, Dec. 4—(AP)—Three firms publishing comic books objected strenuously today to any change in the state law which would ban magazines “principally publishing pictures of sordid crimes, bloodshed or heinous acts.”

Three executives of these firms testified before a joint, legislative committee studying the publication of comic hooks at a hearing at the Bar Association Building.

Harry Shorten, editor of Archie Comic Publications, Inc., said he thought “the standard of comic books has gone up considerably since the last committee hearing. I think the comic book industry, if given time, will pull itself up by its own bootstraps.”

He admitted under cross-examination that his organization had done nothing toward self-regulation of the industry. He was shown copies of two crime comic books and said he did not approve of them. He then said he “had figured there would be between 50 and 60 objectionable comic books” that he would classify as bad ones.


‘Matter of Principle’
Assemblyman James A, Fitzpatrick, Plattsburgh Republican, then asked him “what would he think of a law forbidding publication of magazines made up principally of pictures of sordid, bloodshed and heinous acts.”

Shorten answered he would be “opposed to any sort of regulation as a matter of principle.”

Sol Cohen, an executive of the Avon Publishing Co., Inc., which publishes 27 magazines with a circulation of 3.5 million monthly, told the committee “I don’t think any comics hurt children because they grow out of it. I think all comics are proper ones to read.”

Cohen said his publications were about 20 per cent devoted to crime. He then read an advertisement which said, “Do you want men to adore you and worship you?” It was a perfume advertisement, one of eight in a comic magazine. Cohen said he saw nothing wrong with the ads.


Asks Law Enforcement
Frederick Iger, as associate publisher of Creston Publications Corp., said, “My suggestion to the committee is that the laws covering obscene and licentious literature be enforced. I am against censorship of the entire industry.”

Iger said, “The purchase of comic books should be in the hands of the parents.” He said the choice of purchase and the choice of display is a guaranteed right. He produced a 3 1/4-inch switchblade knife which, he said, he purchased this morning for $1.49 at a midtown cigar store.

The committee chairman, GOP Assemblyman Joseph F. Carling of Nassau County, suggested the knife be turned over to the district attorney’s office for possible prosecution, as the law forbids the sale of a switchblade knife with a blade measuring more than 2 1/2 inches.

One of the complaints against comic magazines deals with advertisements on switchblade knives.


Reading Held Education
“My basic objection is against any form of censorship,” Iger said. “The most effective way is the education of children as to proper reading”

An Albany woman and a Troy priest yesterday testified before the committee.

Mrs. Charles S. Walker, 410 Fairview Ave., chairman of the legislative committee of the State Congress of Parents and Teachers Inc., said the congress favored outlawing “the worst of comic books, such as those dealing with crime.”

The Rev. Charles C. Smith of St. Peter’s Church, Troy, Albany Catholic diocese director of the National Organization for Decent Literature said the “ideal remedy” would be for comic book publishers to “provide cooperation and police their own field.”


Finds Third Are Violent
Esther Smith said: “I think I have waded through about 350 comic books and found about one-third of them feature crime and violence.” He said that smaller publishers, producing about a fourth of the comics “have never shown any interest in policing their own field.”

He said he believed the Feinberg-Fitzpatrick amendment to the law dealing with comics, vetoed by Governor Dewey, was constitutional.

The priest said he thought the measure should also control publication of magazines on nudism, love and sex because, he said, “comic books are a preparatory phase towards sex books.”


Opposes Censorship
Also at yesterday’s session Whitney Elsworth, a comics publishing company executive, told the committee:


“We do not think censorship of comic magazines is necessary or practicable. Ninety-five per cent of the comics are good,”

Elsworth is editorial director of the National Comics Publications Inc., which publishes 35 comics.

Roy B. McHenry, staff writer for the Endicott Bulletin, told the committee his newspaper “will fight any legislation that resembles censorship.” He said he thought the best way to handle the problem was through newspaper, radio and television campaigns.
One of American Comics Group’s imprints was Custom Comics which printed comics for state fairs. The Billboard wrote about these comics on March 26, 1955 and June 2, 1956.

Iger left DC Comics in 1961.

According to the Social Security Death Index, Iger’s mother passed away in November 1981. The date of his father’s death has not been found.

The New York Times, June 19, 2000, printed a death notice on Iger’s sister, Toby.
Levy–Toby. Beloved wife of Irwin for over 50 years. Devoted mother of Seth, Susan, Harriet and Sammy. Cherished grandmother of Jessica, Cassie and Mollie. Dear sister of Fred Iger. Services at “Boulevard-Riverside,” 1450 Bway, Hewlett, LI, Tuesday, 10 AM.
Iger passed away April 10, 2015.

(Special thanks to Todd Klein; next post: Fourth of July 1918)

Monday, June 29, 2015

Lettering: British Printing Ink Advertisements


The British Printer
January-February 1899



The British Printer
March-April 1899
 

The British Printer
May-June 1899

The British Printer
July-August 1899



The British Printer
September-October 1899

The British Printer
November-December 1899

Monday, June 22, 2015

Anatomy of a Logo: The Question


The Question logo was commissioned by Robbin Brosterman, a designer at DC Comics, who said a book, compiling the 1987 to 1990 comic books by Dennis O’Neil and Denys Cowan, was going to be published. During our meeting, Robbin suggested using a brushstroke or brush lettering.

I started rough designs on October 1, 1991. One idea was placing the title inside a brushstroke. Another sketch had the question mark in the letter O, and one had part of the question mark as the tail of the Q.






On sheets of newsprint, I used a brush to write out the title. I used newsprint because the ink dries quickly. I’ve reconstructed, as much as possible, the five sheets of newsprint which had been cut up to create the final logo art.

I did a number of circular warm-up strokes. I changed the angle of the tip to make the strokes rough and streaky rather than solid. On the sheet below, the title with the Post-it Note is composed of several pieces of lettering.




On this sheet, I cut out and used the O, part of the N, and tail of a Q. It wasn’t necessary to write Question as a whole word.


“The” was lettered horizontally and vertically. I also lettered the Q without a tail which was drawn separately and added later. 



Here I tried a rectangular Q. The amount of ink in the brush affects the roughness and streakiness of the stroke.


From this sheet part of the E was used elsewhere.


After about fifteen minutes, I stopped lettering and began assembling the logo by combining the letters and parts of brushstrokes.


The following photographs of the above samples show how the various pieces were fitted together. The Q was in three pieces; the E had two parts; TION was repositioned; and a different N was used.


A Q from another sheet was used with the rest of the lettering.


This scan shows the size and scale of the lettering. The vertical versions of THE were lettered as a single units without adding any pieces. 


Here was how all the pieces, for this logo, were put together.


I faxed these four designs to Robbin. She also liked design number four over the others and suggested some adjustments to the Q and O.


I made photostats of the O then added a new tail to make the Q. Post-it Notes were very handy substitutes for white paint.


I didn’t turn in the newsprint artwork because it was too fragile. Over time the newsprint would have turned brown and brittle. I submitted a photostat of the lettering as final art. I made another change to the logo by moving up the O and N.


Months later, I found out from Robbin that The Question book had been cancelled because of insufficient orders from the comics stores. So, my logo was never used. 

(Next post on Monday: British Printing Ink Advertisements)

Monday, June 15, 2015

Typography: Bock Ngar Chy Co.



Warner M. Van Norden
1918
Lee Shew Hung—was born in San Francisco in 1882. At the age of four he was sent home to the land of his forefathers to receive Chinese training. He returned to the United States when he was fifteen, to study in the American schools. His second trip to China was made in 1902. After returning to the United States in 1905 he abandoned further studies in order to take up his father’s business—that of importing and exporting. After the fire and earthquake in San Francisco he opened the Bock Ngar Chy Company, a firm of printers and stationers in that city. Four years ago he came to New York, and was employed for a short time as a bookkeeper. Later he organized the Asia Noodle Company, and became the president and general manager of the firm. Mr. Lee has been President of the Hock San Society and the Lin Sang Society. Address—10 Pell Street.

San Francisco Chronicle
(California)
October 9, 1909
A Chinese student wants a position in the city 
as schoolboy. V. B. Bock Ngar Chy, 813 
Washington st., city.

February 1915

San Francisco Chronicle
(California)
March 9, 1919
Bock Ngar Chy & Co, 920 Grant av.,
China 1110. Translation Chinese and 
English. Rubber Stamps.

Rubber Stamp

Bock Ngar Chy Co.
Type Specimen Catalogue
circa 1925
30 pages includes one blank
5.625 x 8.5 in / 14.3 x 21.6 cm





























Bock Ngar Chy Company
Receipts and Invoices

1931 San Francisco Directory
Bock Ngar Chy & Co.....920 Grant av

1949 San Francisco Chinese Directory
Bock Ngar Chy Co…..556 Kearny

Bock Ngar Chy, Youth Printing Co.
1956 Calendar
(calendar scanned in three sections and stitched together)

Online Archive of California
Thomas W. Chinn Interview
San Francisco Printing Companies

(Next post on Monday: The Question)