Wallis, Lawrence. George W. Jones: Printer Laureate

Printing History, January 2007 | Go to article overview

Wallis, Lawrence. George W. Jones: Printer Laureate


WALLIS, LAWRENCE. George W. Jones: Printer Laureate. Nottingham: The Plough Press; West New York, N.J.: Mark Batty Publisher, 2004. ISBN 0902813-20-x 9 (UK); 0-902813-21-8 (special edition); 0-9725636-7-9 (USA). 35.00 [pounds sterling]; $275.00; $58.00.

George W Jones's career, in many respects, parallels that of Stanley Morison (they were the typographical advisers of Linotype and Monotype respectively), but whereas Morison's life and ideas have inspired an endless flow of commentary (some laudatory, some not), Jones has fallen into undeserved obscurity. It is tempting to suggest--as Lawrence Wallis does in this gracefully written and well-documented biography--that the "Morison circle" (Wallis's phrase), for partisan reasons, simply wrote Jones out of the narrative. That may be at least partially true, but on closer examination it is clear that Jones never displayed the intellectual adventurousness and rigor one associates with Morison. He rose slowly in the printing trade (unlike Morison, who began as a provocative outsider before he became the embodiment of the English typographical establishment), and his early experiments in "Artistic" printing are remarkably ugly and dated. In time he found his metier in the severely traditional manner, based mainly on the use of Caslon Old Face and replicas of historic ornaments, that had been perfected at the Chiswick Press in the nineteenth century.

Like Morison, Jones supervised the design of several types for mechanical setting, the most outstanding of which was Granjon (1924), a brilliant adaptation of a sixteenth-century Garamond derivative. …

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