Not a Huge Goudy Fan, But...

By coincidence two Frederic Goudy items landed on my shelves this past week, which prompted me to look about for what they were joining. He's never been my guy when it comes to types, but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy reading about him and his work.

The primo of the two new items is all the more primo for being a gift. It's a copy of Goudy Greek, issued from Barry Moser's Pennyroyal Press in 1976. Not a terribly common book; I've never seen a copy before. The spread above describes all that follows: four spreads set in Goudy Greek (24- and 30-point, looks like), with the photo-enlarged logotypes printed in shades of gold and copper. Beautiful presswork by Harold McGrath, with a characteristically sublime binding by Gray Parrot (leather or vellum tips are not seen nearly enough in contemporary edition bindings). Seems there may be a slight typo in the colophon, where Gray is identified as E.G. Parrot III, unless his kid did the binding. I like the way the book is padded with blanks at the back, so it would be thick enough to provide a nicely rounded spine. I have no problem with blanks when the paper's nice (this is Nideggen, which is nice enough).

The other new Goudy title is A Goudy Memoir - Essays By & About America's Great Type Designer, published by Neil Shaver's Yellow Barn Press in 1987. The edition of consists of 75 copies printed on Mohawk (yawn) and 75 printed on dampened Rives (yum). Neil was one of the few printers of his time and place who made the effort to print damp. I met him once and he was a prince. I'll devote a post to his press some time soon.

As I said already, Goudy's types have never excited me, and this collection doesn't change that opinion. I do like the Deepdene italic used for the section that includes John DePol's two-color wood engraving.

All this Goudying got me to thinking of Jim Rimmer, for whom Goudy was an inspiration and icon. He designed and printed several pieces celebrating Goudy's work. One was this broadside printed for "the Seattle Book Arts Guild and the Typochondriacs" (?) in 1993.

Jim had used a smaller version of the same image for a three-color (near as I can tell) linocut cover for the Alcuin Society's journal, Amphora in 1989.

In 1987 Jim also produced this broadside. That was more than a decade before I first visited the shop at the back of his home in New Westminster.

Every time you'd visit him, you'd come away with "scraps" of things that he'd take off a bench or pick up from the floor and offer.

This proof (above) of the Goudy linocut from the broadside was found on the floor & still bears the marks of dirty shoes - it may have been on the floor those years. But more likely he'd just reprinted it.

To wrap things up, a cautionary tale for those embarking on their education in collecting books. The first significant Goudy-related book I purchased was Typologia, in a quarter-leather binding with paper vellum over boards. Found in a shop while on vacation in the U.S. This was around 1995, the earliest days of my interest in printing and books about books. It wasn't cheap, especially for someone still getting used to books with triple-digit prices. But it was lovely and of interest. Only when I got home did I realize that a leaf following the last printed page of the book appeared to have been cut out - the remnants of a stub were just discernible. I dug around in my collection of booksellers' catalogues (this was before the Internet obliterated the need & fun of building your own reference library), and discovered that what I had was the limited edition of Typologia, but with the colophon removed!

Calls to the bookseller - who was not a member of the AABA, but sadly remains in business while his betters have moved on - to inquire brought no joy. He did not return calls. When finally run to ground, he expressed surprise, then postulated that the copy must have come from another famous California printer who was famous for excising colophons (??), and finally simply said it was no longer his problem. I guess I could have travelled all the way back there and made him blah blah blah, but I still liked the book - it's a great account of how a typeface was created - and I decided to chalk it up as a learning experience: if you're going to buy expensive books, know what you're buying, or at least buy from a professional who stands by (& accurately describes) what they sell. Like all the good folks listed at right under Find Our Books!