Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Capitals, Italics, and Cannibals? Oh My!

RRelax. I only said "cannibals" because this post comes to you via my 18th Century British Novel class, for which I just finished reading Daniel Defoe's famous adventure story, Robinson Crusoe. The reason this fits within the History of Visual Communication is not just because I am an 18th century British novel fiend, but because my Oxford Edition of the book features the title page from the original 1719 published novel which yes, is relevant to our little discussion. It even has the old English spelling, with the lowercase "s" that looked like an "f", and the Germanic capitalization of nouns. Sorry to get all grammar crazy on you (Maria). Strangely enough, as you can see on the title page, this is actually the complete full title (it is quite a mouthful): The Life and Strange Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, Mariner: Who lived Eight and Twenty Years all alone in an un-inhabited Island on the Coast of America, near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque; Having been cast on Shore by Shipwreck, wherein all the Men perished but himself. With an Account how he was at last as strangely deliver'd by Pyrates. Written By Himself. 

Wheww! Well I guess if you have not read it, there really is no need considering the title alone tells you the whole story. Oh well....Anyway, with this much text on one page, the designer obviously needed to consider seriously how the type was going to be laid out, and how to emphasize the most important parts, as you can see by the use of differing serif typefaces, capitals, italics, and changes in scale, kerning, and leading. This page also features an illustration (what I assume is an engraving) of a ship, like many other printed title pages of the 18th century. Sorry, it's not the best picture. 

Oops, I just realized that this is actually the cover page of a Defoe sequel. Oh well, you get the idea.


 **Like my Drop Cap "R"? It was designed by the beyond talented type designer/illustrator Jessica Hische as part of her Daily Drop Cap Project. Hische has graciously published a series of lovely alphabet characters for free on non-commercial websites and blogs. I love this scroll-y almost Medieval looking one. THANK YOU JESSICA!

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