UNBELIEVABLE IMPLEMENTS OF THE PREPIXEL ERA
1910»1940 1910-Í9 + 0
WITH TECHNICAL PEN AND TEMPLATES. Above left, finished inking, drawn on frosted Mylar by the author. I scanned this from the
reverse side of the sheet (then flopped it above to be right-reading) to show the white paint used to make corrections. Note how the corner
strokes of each character were extended so that they could be trimmed back leaving sharp corners. Above right, the final result. Inking is not
mechanically perfect; some of the strokes have a charming, if unintentional, flair to them. But, I am so glad I'll never have to do that again!
AIRBRUSH. A paint delivery device utilizing air by which ancient man
of the early Esquire period created calendar pinups to adorn dorm
walls and later to customize "hot rods." Current "airbrush tool" in
programs like Photoshop represents 1000 percent improvement
over performance of manual variety, except that the artist is left
without a tangible piece of original art to sell later when he really
needs the money.
PRICKER. A device for stimulating certain sensitive parts of the
anatomy during bizarre sexual rites involving satin cords and
clothespins. May also have been used to effect a transfer of a pen¬
cil or charcoal sketch to the final media for inking.
. At least use of
device, at right, for checking
stem widths and letter spac¬
ing, obviated the even more
barbaric use of
numbers and measurement.
LOGO, FONT a LETTERING BIBLE
LETTERING BRUSH. At right, a man tickles
paper with horsehair attached to a stick.
What's that all about? This is yet another
example of the sorts of indignities the
early hand-letterer suffered simply to be
able to ply his humble trade and maybe
get to spend the weekend tooling around
town in a Pierce-Arrow with a sluttish-
looking flapper riding shotgun.
INK. Without ink there could not have been writing, lettering or
reproduction and the world as we know it might never have existed.
In fact, ink, not oil, may be the world's most important substance.
The plastic-handled, ink-bearing implement (at bottom of photo
above) could run circles—at least, small circles—around any of the
single-shafted ink-delivery devices shown on the previous pages.
I spent years learning to perfect the
rounded-corner rectangle by matching up
the inking of straight sides to the quarter cir¬
cles in the corners. Since stopping the Rapid¬
ograph stroke just at the start of the circle,
then continuing again with a compass or
ellipse template was sure to produce blobs
and smudges at the beginnings or ends of any
of these strokes, this procedure was as diffi¬
cult as rendering a hog or tilling forty
acres...without a mule. Nowadays, of course,
any child can select the rounded-corner box
tool and easily accomplish in seconds this
essential task that formerly brought tears to
the eyes of the manliest of letterers.
In 1971, I walked into a musty little type
shop just off Park Avenue South and saw
my first Linotype typesetting machine. I
thought I'd stepped back into the 1920s. The
incredibly complex contraption, standing
taller than I, made Rube Goldberg's most
outlandish mechanical fantasy seem mun¬
dane by comparison.
The miracle of this Linotype machine was
that it brought five hundred years of hand
composition to an end. It actually pulled indi-
text continues on page 70
BRUSH. This fine specimen
belonged to theater sign
man Don Sturdivant, who
told me, "When you get
ahold of a good brush,
you treat it like gold."