3rd October 2010
Prints Past / A printing equipment salesman turned biographer
New technology such as electrotyping and the pantograph introduced in the mid-19th century created a great outpouring of fanciful American typefaces. In 1896 William E. Loy, a San Francisco printing equipment salesman starting writing a series of profiles of the type designers of his day. Loy realized it was important to document the men in the background who created the 19th century’s exuberant ornamented types, because the furiously competing type foundries that were wrongly taking all the credit for introducing them to the printing trade. Loy’s work was serialized in The Inland Printer between 1896-99 and included biographies, photographs of the artists and list of the type they had created which he had compiled through correspondence with the type founders and other craftsmen. Loy presented a behind-the scenes story of the men who were the creators of the innovative types and added much incidental detail about the politics and business practices of the time which makes his work an invaluable piece of printing history.