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TRANSITIONAL FACES: THE LIVES & WORK OF RICHARD AUSTIN, TYPE-CUTTER & RICHARD TURNER AUSTIN...

TRANSITIONAL FACES: THE LIVES & WORK OF RICHARD AUSTIN, TYPE-CUTTER & RICHARD TURNER AUSTIN, WOOD-ENGRAVER

Johnston, Alastair

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ISBN 10: 0918395321 / ISBN 13: 9780918395320
Published by Poltroon Press, Berkeley, CA, 2013
Hardcover
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About this Item

8vo. cloth, dust jacket. 387 pages. Long thought to be one person, Richard Austin turns out to be a father and son who shared the same name. Although Austin's importance to the history of typography was never in question, his (or rather their) dates and final resting place were forgotten. After a decade of research, printing historian Alastair Johnston has written a biography of the Austin family in which he assesses their contributions to the development of book design and typography at a crucial time in British publishing history. Richard Austin (1756-1832) took the innovations of John Baskerville and, through the sharpness and delicacy of his type cutting, perfected the typefaces of the period between the Old Face of Caslon and the Modern faces of the Didots and Bodoni, an era described as 'Transitional' by Updike, which saw the first flowering of the British fine press. In his later work, Austin pulled back from the impractical hair-lines of the Modern style to a workable type now known as Scotch Roman which became the workhorse of many sensible printers in Britain and North America. This book includes the complete 24-page 1827 Imperial foundry specimen; pages from an unrecorded specimen book of George Cawthorn; a Fry & Steele broadside of display types; samples of the Porson and Sarcophagus greek types, Austin's 'Scotch' types and more. Austin's son and namesake Richard Turner Austin (1781-1842) was a commercial wood engraver, producing blocks for scores of works in the first three decades of the nineteenth century. He was not a Bewick pupil but did learn by copying the work of John & Thomas Bewick, working alongside his father in Paul's Alley, St. Giles Cripplegate, London (pictured on the cover). He also exhibited paintings at the Royal Academy. In 1819, Austin Jr. relocated to Edinburgh and began illustrating children's books for the house of Oliver & Boyd. Johnston documents 130 works illustrated by Austin, with complete bibliographical details, known variants, illustrations of title-pages, and many of Austin's over 1000 known engravings. Along the way, Johnston introduces the reader to some fascinating forgotten authors, bringing to life the world of Macklin, an Irish actor who stabbed another thespian in an argument over a wig in the green room at Drury Lane, and Captain Pasley, a Scottish soldier with a romantic heart who was a friend of Coleridge and the Wordsworths. Johnston uses his knowledge of printing and publishing history, as well as his wide reading, to evoke this era of revolutionary change in the world of printing, during which Britain not only emerged as a major publishing centre, but also became a world power. One of the first 300 copies, which are signed by Johnston. Accompanied by an actual size facsimile of the previously unpublished 1790 Stephenson broadside. Bookseller Inventory # 118658

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Bibliographic Details

Title: TRANSITIONAL FACES: THE LIVES & WORK OF ...

Publisher: Poltroon Press, Berkeley, CA

Publication Date: 2013

Binding: cloth, dust jacket

Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

About this title

Synopsis:

Literary Nonfiction. Biography. Art. Publishing History & Typography. Long thought to be one person, Richard Austin turns out to be a father and son who shared the same name. Although Austin's importance to the history of typography was never in question, his (or rather their) dates and final resting place were forgotten. After a decade of research, printing historian Alastair Johnston has written a biography of the Austin family in which he assesses their contributions to the development of book design and typography at a crucial time in British publishing history. Richard Austin (1756-1832) took the innovations of John Baskerville and, through the sharpness and delicacy of his type cutting, perfected the typefaces of the period between the Old Face of Caslon and the Modern faces of the Didots and Bodoni, an era described as 'Transitional' by Updike, which saw the first flowering of the British fine press. In his later work, Austin pulled back from the impractical hair-lines of the Modern style to a workable type now known as Scotch Roman which became the workhorse of many sensible printers in Britain and North America. Austin's son and namesake Richard Turner Austin (1781-1842) was a commercial wood-engraver, producing blocks for scores of works in the first three decades of the nineteenth century. He was not a Bewick pupil but did learn by copying the work of John & Thomas Bewick, working alongside his father in Paul's Alley, St Giles Cripplegate, London (that's St Giles at left, on the cover). He also exhibited paintings at the Royal Academy. In 1819, Austin Jr relocated to Edinburgh and began illustrating children's books for the house of Oliver & Boyd.

From the Inside Flap:

The Austin family worked in the graphic trades during the Georgian era. Richard [1756-1832], arguably the greatest type cutter Britain has ever known, produced the enduring types of Bell & Stephenson's British Letter Foundry in 1788 and display types for other founders.
   The transitional period saw the flowering of the British fine press in works from Bulmer, Bell, Miller & Bensley. In 1812 Richard Austin produced the first of the types now known as Scotch Roman for William Miller of Edinburgh & the Wilsons of Glasgow. He also cut the revolutionary Porson Greek of Cambridge University Press, before starting the Imperial Letter Foundry with his son George in 1815.
   His son John was a music engraver, while his namesake, Richard Turner Austin [1781-1842], worked as a wood-engraver, illustrating a wide range of publications by the men Byron called the 'hot-press gentry': William Bulmer, James Cundee, Charles Whittingham and others.
   Drawing on previously unpublished material, this book presents an engaging account of the Austins' lives and work, and places them in the context of printing & publishing history.

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Oak Knoll sells, publishes and distributes books in the fields of: Bibliography, Book Collecting, Book Arts, Books about Children's Books, Book History, Bookplates, Book Trade, Forgery, Censorship, Libraries, Publishing, Bookbinding, Book Design, Book Illustration and Graphic Arts, Marbling, Color Printing, Printing and Printing History, Papermaking and Paper Specimens, Typography and Typeface Specimens, Private Press Books and Fine Printing. Oak Knoll Books (Cedar Lane Inc dba Oak Knoll Books) 310 Delaware St New Castle DE 19720 orders@oakknoll.com 302-328-7232 Robert D. Fleck Oak Knoll is a member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America (ABAA) and thus affiliated with the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers. These organizations stand for professionalism in the world of books so look for these logos when buying books.

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