I was instantly captured by the book’s title page, which contains no type but is a lesson in Victorian maximalist lettering. Perhaps even more impressive is the wide array of typefaces used throughout the text. You know you’ve got a winner when Rustic No. 2 isn’t even the second-weirdest typeface on a page.
The main text face is Madisonian, an unusual script-italic hybrid and ancestor of the slightly-tracked script. It was published by the Bruce Foundry around 1860, meaning this book might have been an early use of the typeface. Some might argue that Madisonian is not really a typeface for body text, but it certainly looks fantastic and connects nicely to the pens and inks that are the subject of the book.
This book’s type choices challenge every piece of conventional wisdom that I learned about book typography. In characteristic Victorian excess, everything feels like it is shouting. But if you think of this less as a book and more as a showpiece for ink by one of the primary players in the industry, it all begins to work and I am loving every minute of it.
Title page (lettering), featuring the Latin motto Vox dicta perit, litera scripta manet (“A heard voice perishes, but the written letter remains.”). Lithography by Snyder, Black & Sturm, 92 William St., New York.