Edward Philip Prince, Type Punchcutter

Note: This is an updated article about the type punchcutter, Edward Prince, taken from my old blog. It is virtually the same except for an additional paragraph at the end, talking (enthusiastically) about 7th Seal Type’s Doves Roman revival project. 

There’s been a fair bit of interest surrounding the trailer for the upcoming linotype film. After watching the clip, a wave of nostalgia splashed over me sending me scuttling upstairs to my boxes of type books and ephemera under the bed (there used to be man-smut but once the kids came along it was all transferred to the loft for safety).

I remembered that I had some old Linotype Matrix newsletters and in the course of fudging around came across this little gem entitled Edward Philip Prince, Type Punchcutter by C. V. Avis, published in 1967. The plain grey dust jacket, now somewhat frayed and battered with its spaced lowercase, doesn’t promise much, but this is nonetheless a charming little book; cream laid paper, generous margins, typeset in Linotype Venezia (based on the original cut by Prince for George W. Jones) and of course, most importantly, the subject matter.

Edward Prince Type Punchcutter bookcover

Edward Philip Prince (1846–1923) was a punchcutter to the stars, including illustrious figures such as Count Kessler, George W. Jones, Emery Walker and William Morris, along with several private presses and some of the bigger type foundries. Unlike some of his contemporaries, Prince has largely been overlooked and forgotten – this is probably one of the few books about him (there may be another by George W. Jones). For the author, it was obviously a labour of love.

There are ample examples of Prince’s work, although the designs range in quality from beautiful to workmanlike and occasionally downright ugly. By his own admission Prince was not a designer but a craftsmen who carried out other men’s designs‘, so this is not a criticism of his work. Two fonts that caught my eye were Cranach-Hamlet and the elegant Doves Roman (shown below).

A delightful touch, peeking through its protective sheet of tracing paper, is an actual smoke proof of three characters cut (or partially cut) by Prince for the Doves Roman but rejected early on in the process.

On a final note, and I’d read this elsewhere (Matthew Carter perhaps), was the fact that, on average, only one punch per day could be cut. In this digital age where it’s not unfeasible to create a whole font in a day which could then be sent to the far corners of the world within a matter of seconds – would we have the patience to cope with such a slow pace of progress?

Doves Roman Revival

Recently, I found out that 7th Seal Type are releasing a Doves Roman Revival (along with Edward Johnston’s Doves Titling) in OpenType format including alternative glyphs & ligatures and accented characters. I’ve had a few looks and it looks super! I think that all involved have worked really hard on research and treating the whole project with the reverence it deserves. It can be too easy to criticise these revivals, but in this instance I think 7th Seal Type have got it spot on and, personally, I applaud their efforts. The Doves Roman punches have been metaphorically fished out of the River Thames at last! To see the Doves Roman revival and read more background information on the project check out their web site: http://7thsealblog.wordpress.com/2011/09/11/ss-doves-revival/


Edward Prince at work

Page showing Doves Roman

Page showing Cranach Hamlet typeface

Smoke proofs of Dove Roman punches

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