Printing the Past and Casting the Future: A Typefounder’s Tale

Thursday, December 13, 2012
4:00 pm PST

William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
2520 Cimarron Street

Clark Quarterly Lecture

—Raymond S. Nelson Jr., National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution

co-sponsored by Southern California Chapter of the American Printing History Association (APHA)


This lecture examines years of experiment and experience in the manufacture of printing type using traditional methods, as well as the application of such techniques in both educational settings and in fine printing. There will be an opportunity to discuss the value of such experimentation as it relates to a better understanding of printing history, and its relevance to contemporary printing.

During three decades at the Smithsonian Institution, Raymond S. Nelson Jr. worked almost exclusively with the history of printing technology, with an emphasis on those methods employed during the first four centuries of printing. Particular effort has been focused on type founding, including the cutting of punches and the use of hand molds in the production of printing type. As a part of his museum duties, Nelson conducted regular public demonstrations of three working printing shops and a type foundry. Since retiring, he has taught five week-long courses on the history of typography at the University of Virginia’s Rare Book School.