I have to say a very special thank you to Gregory in Brussels for sending me a link to his friend Jack's amazing blog, the brilliantly titled Jules Vernacular. Jack has photographed an incredible collection of French signs and displays them on a beautifully maintained site.
I've been meaning to get these online for a while now. They're designed by Raymond Hawkey who also designed these and are brilliant novels. Funeral was made into an OK film while Brain was turned into a bloody terrible film by Ken Russell. Neither films are a patch on the very perfect and utterly thrilling Ipcress File.
Of these three editions Horse was the first to be published and is most definitely the superior cover. Although not made into a film staring Caine the book's hero is the Harry Palmer character* so I guess when it was issued, to the public, Caine was Palmer hence his mush on the cover. But I must say, I think it's used brilliantly. The way the coarse dot screened image is cut off is more than just dead cool, it's got attitude and Caine's distant gaze is so Palmer.
While I think the other two are OK covers I think they suffer because of the unecessarily "novel" type for the title and the inaccurate depiction of the hero as a machine gun weilding action man.
That stuff inside helps too and again is handled in Horse with much more finesse than in the others.
* It's common knowledge but on the off chance you don't know, in the books the hero (or should that be anti-hero?) is actually anonymous. The Harry Palmer name was necessary for the film adaptation. Wikipedia explains: Needing to name the previously anonymous character, the film production team chose the name 'Harry Palmer' because they wanted the name to be as dull and unglamorous sounding as possible, to distance him from the prevalent stereotype of the flamboyant, swashbuckling secret agent exemplified in the Bond movies.
Ever since Matt sent me this I've been meaning to get this out of the loft and blog it.
Two typewriters featured in my childhood. There was the ancient black enameled Remington No.12 that was almost too heavy to move and that we were allowed to play on and then there was the more modern black cased portable that my Dad still has, which he would pull down from it's shelf to type letters of complaint to the council. That one we rarely touched but both were fascinating.
I bought this thing of great beauty at a car boot sale for £5. Hardly used, it came complete with all it's documentation.
I won't say any more, just examine it's details and long for one of your own.
It was Simon who first tipped me off about The Guardian this week (thanks Simon and also David who followed very soon after) and later sent me a scan of his remarkable ruler, about which he says:
"The folding-ruler...reminded me of similar measurement-based typographical delight when I once visited the UK's foremost manufacturer of rulers and tape measures, Rabone Chesterman (an amalgamation of two long-standing - C18 - firms in Birmingham and Sheffield). They made a huge variety of superbly detailed steel rulers (amongst other things) with really sharp crisp lettering. I was particularly taken by one done for export to America, with imperial/metric on one side, and an astonishing number of weird and wonderful measures on the other (see scan). One perk enjoyed by the finishing department was the permission to sell on the few 'seconds', rulers which for one reason or another didn't come up to scratch. Before selling on, these had the company name ground out - a case of lost rather than found type? (I'm not going to land anyone at the firm in trouble; the place was raised to the ground about 15 years ago to be replaced by a dull office block bolted onto the old facade to house insurers). An inveterate scrounger they let me take an example of each away with me, and I've used the smaller of the two just about every working day since."
You've got to love "Just a hair" which for a while I suspected was a bit of digital trickery but believe it to be a genuine if surprising feature of the device. Perhaps someone will tell me it's a legitimate unit of measure for something.
Continuing last week's toilet theme, Loïc from Bureau L'Imprimante sent me a link that took me to this French public urinal on Thierry Weyd's blog. Loïc very kindly translates Theirry's text:
"In his text, he [Theirry] explains how great slate (ardoise) can be, especially to pee on (or for anything in the bathroom to tell the truth). He also points out the similarities between this AAA thing, and the KKK iconography."
David's been routing through his Gran's cupboards (while her back was turned I'll wager) and discovered these old chestnuts.
I have a suspicion that the Quality Street tin was actually designed (well before my time) at Hurlston's in Birmingham, the now defunct Design Company where I cut my teeth, whilst the Soap Flakes and Starch packs were clearly the main source of influence for Sanna Annukka's acclaimed artwork for last year's, liked by some, Keane album.
As ever, many thanks for going out of your way to send stuff in. Loïc says he's got some more things to send (looking forward to it) and if anyone else would like to join in, do please email your found type through.
I'd forgotten that I'd signed up for updates from The optimism of modernity, which I did rather hurriedly and didn't fully understand what it was. It just sounded interesting.
This morning this popped into my inbox proving that I was right, it is interesting. This is what the email said:
Edward Wright: design work
Born to South American parents, British citizen, cosmopolitan at heart, Edward Wright – painter and object-maker, typographer, writer, teacher – was an enigmatic presence in London’s post-War art and design scene. Robin Kinross has described Wright thus: ‘His subjects: human communication, the mundane, the street. His manner: sparing, self-critical, yet the work had vigorous attack and full conviction. His typical method: assemblage, with what was to hand.’
The exhibition, which is open from Monday 21 January until March 2007, is based on materials held in archives at the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication, University of Reading, and is supplemented by works lent by family and friends of Edward Wright. The exhibition is accompanied by the publication of Edward Wright: readings, writings. This exhibition arises from ‘The optimism of modernity’ project which is funded by Arts & Humanities Research Council.
The exhibition is open Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm.
I'm sure I'm not alone. Eye Test charts: they're brilliant aren't they? Infact, not just these charts. All that opthalmic stuff and nonsense is ace. And, I suspect, will be taken over by technology and disappear one day. But that means there'll be a short period of time when, if you're lucky, you'll find some of it turning up at car boot sales or on ebay.