An Introduction to the History of Printing Types: An Illustrated Summary of the Main Stages in the Development of Type Design from 1440 up to the Present Day: An Aid to Type Face Identification

By Geoffrey Dowding | Go to book overview
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REVERSED OR CAMEO

These types are of early nineteenth century3 origin. The first examples were Egyptians, Fat Faces, and Tuscans1 reversed white on a black ground. Thorowgood shows a Reversed Egyptian italic in his specimen of 1828 and the Sheffield founders, Bower & Bacon a Four-line White--fat face capitals reversed white on a black ground--in a specimen of 1830. Unlike the contemporary versions of reversed types the earliest examples appeared on continuous black grounds--there were no white lines separating adjoining letters as there are in present day examples.

Enjoying a relatively brief period of popularity these reversed types went almost entirely out of fashion about forty years after they had first appeared and the design was not resuscitated until the 1920's.

Today types of this kind are sometimes called Cameo2 and are usually sans serif capitals reversed white on a black or shaded ground.

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1
'The Tuscan, was, as Mr Morison points out, invented in the fourth century by Pope Damasus I. Its characteristic is that the points of the serifs are extended and curled, probably bifurcating the stem. In the nineteenth century it tends also to acquire a bulge in the middle of the stem . . . The first nineteenth century English Tuscan was brought out by Figgins in 1815. Between 1815 and 1875 the letter form was subjected to various devices to vary its colour, shape or shadow.' Nicolette Gray in Nineteenth Century Ornamented Types and Title Pages.
2
A precious stone, as the onyx, agate, sardonyx, etc, having two layers of different colours, in the upper of which a figure is carved in relief, while the lower serves as ground. This is the definition of Cameo given in the Oxford Dictionary.

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An Introduction to the History of Printing Types: An Illustrated Summary of the Main Stages in the Development of Type Design from 1440 up to the Present Day: An Aid to Type Face Identification
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