Print Connections by Richard Romano
Pass the Bubbly
Some time ago, I was binge-watching on Hulu+ the British quiz/comedy series Q.I. (Quite Interesting), simultaneously the most fascinating, funniest and, at times, bawdiest TV program on the air. Stephen Fry (until 2015; now Sandy Toksvig) hosts four British comedians who answer questions about obscure knowledge, and make all manner of jokes. In an episode called “Kitsch,” the subject of bubble wrap came up, and I learned that there is such a thing as “Bubble-Wrap Awareness Day,” which falls on January 30 in 2017. (It is alternately called “Bubble-Wrap Appreciation Day,” and was started by a radio station in 2001.)
Of Fonts and Fears
After glancing at the calendar, I have decided that for the rest of the week, I’m going to set everything I type in 13-point Helvetica. Why? It’s a long story, one that takes us through Medieval Switzerland and the world of opera.
Helvetica is one of the most famous typefaces in the world. Designed in 1957 by Swiss type designer Max Miedinger, with a little help from Eduard Hoffmann, it was intended to be a neutral typeface suitable for a wide variety of signage. It was originally named Neue Haas Grotesk, and Mergenthaler Linotype licensed it almost immediately. However, they (actually German Linotype in particular) didn’t like the name, and one could hardly blame them.
Because It’s There
As I have on many occasions, I was binge-watching the British quiz show Q.I. (Quite Interesting), in which Stephen Fry (as of 2016 Sandy Toksvig) hosts four British comedians who answer extremely obscure questions, as well as make jokes (often bawdy) and offer their own “quite interesting” factual tidbits. My favorite question from the “E” series (each season of the show corresponds to a letter of the alphabet; they are currently up to “N”) was from a show called “Exploration” and was: “Who was the first person to put two feet on top of Mount Everest?”
The answer to this question is not Sir Edmund Hillary. We’ll begin our exploration of who this could be at a certain point — namely, the decimal point.
My Funny Valentine
Some time ago, WhatTheyThink’s Eric Vessels and Museum of Printing Grand Overlord Frank Romano chatted about Chatbooks, a new service that allows users to upload digital photos from Instagram, Facebook, or their phones and print a custom photobook. The name of the company reminded me — or, at least, for the purpose of this essay — of what was once called a chapbook, which was a roughly similar kind of publication that dates from the 16th century. The chapbook is also related to something you may be giving or receiving (ideally both) sometime in mid-February. And the chapbook itself arose thanks to perhaps the earliest music distribution system.