Wednesday, May 31, 2017

305. The 2017 Alphabet: F

F is for From.

From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beautie's rose might never die,
But as the riper should by time decease,
His tender heire might beare his memory:

Charles Ricketts, initial F (published 1899)
One of the larger initials that Ricketts designed for the Vale Press books was published in 1899. The 'F' for the first line of Shakespeare's Sonnets measures 75x48 mm, and is placed at the beginning of line 3 to 18. The initial takes up so much space, that the first four lines of the sonnet have been dispersed over eighteen text lines on this page that has room for only five lines of the first sonnet, the other nine lines appearing on the next page.

That was due, not only to the initial of course, but also to the border, and an extra outer border that take up much space as well. This is a remarkably black, profusely decorated, almost neo Gothic page in a book that, apart from two small decorative borders on page 6 and 133, is only sparsely decorated. There is the occasional paragraph mark on the title, section title, the explicit, and the colophon pages, and a publisher's device of a burin occurs on the verso of the colophon page. There are two paragraph marks on the spine of the binding. Otherwise, this is an example of typographie pure.

The text on page 5 (the first text page with the initial F) has been assigned an area of c. 60 cm² which is less than 20% of the page, while for the decoration an area of around 196 cm² had been reserved, which amounts to 66%, or two-thirds of the page.