Frederic W. Goudy
Type designer and master craftsman

by Nicholas Fabian

Frederic W. Goudy was born on March 8, 1865 in Bloomington, Illinois. After graduating from Shelbyville High School in 1883, Goudy became a bookkeeper and for a time worked in his father's real estate office in Hyde County, South Dakota. In 1887, he moved to Minnesota and at the age of 24 he moved to Chicago and began work as a clerk in a local book store. Subsequently, he took a position in the rare book department of A.C. McClurg where he came in contact with some of the finest editions of the English private presses: Kelmscott, Doves, Eragny, and Vale.

Goudy founded the Camelot Press in 1895 with Lauren C. Hooper, a Chicago English instructor. Together they printed a magazine called "Chap-book", but within a year the business went bankrupt. Goudy sold his first alphabet of letters, named "Camelot" in 1896 for $10 to the Dickinson Type Foundry. The next year, in 1897, Goudy married Bertha M. Sprinks, a bookkeeper. As time passed, Mrs. Goudy learned to set type by hand and later became an expert compositor. She died in 1935.

In 1900, Frederic W. Goudy became a lettering instructor at Holme's School of Illustration¹ where he met some of the most influential illustrators, writers and graphic designers in America. George Ade, John T. McCutcheon, W.W. Denslow, Eugene Field, Finley Peter Dunne, Opie Read, Charles Dryden, J.C. and F.X. Leyendecker, Oz Cooper, W.A. Dwiggins, H.T. Webster, Cyrus LeRoy Baldridge and Harry Hershfield, L. Frank Baum, Yvette Guilbert, Ralph Fletcher Seymour, Charles Dana Gibson, Elbert Hubbard, Alfred Stieglitz, Booth Tarkington and Mark Twain.

Through most his life, in addition to designing, engraving and casting type, he also lectured on typography for close to fifty years. In 1903, with Will H. Ransom² as a partner and $300 in capital, he founded the Village Press in Park Ridge, Illinois. After only five short years in business a fire demolished the building to the ground, and for a short time thereafter, Goudy resumed working as a bookkeeper.

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After World War I, the Village Press was rebuilt on Deepdene Road, in Forest Hills, Queens, and in 1924, the shop was moved to Marlboro, New York. Goudy intensely disliked the mechanical approach that the large commercial foundries used to translate his hand-drawn designs into commercial type forms. To achieve his own vision of design-production harmony, Goudy started his own foundry in 1925 and was personally engraving his own matrices by 1927. On January 26, 1939 a catastrophic fire again razed his shop destroying all his machinery and designs. After the fire, he did not attempt to re-establish the work shop, but instead focused his creative energies on type design, writing, and lecturing. Goudy was a contemporary of Bruce Rogers and William Addison Dwiggins. In 1920, became the Art Director at Lanston Type Co. and the relationship lasted for nearly three decades. On his 75th birthday, he was appointed a type design lecturer at Syracuse University's School of Journalism.

As America's most prolific type designer with 124 type designs to his credit, Goudy died in 1947.

With good natured tongue-in-cheek humor, Goudy used to say, "The old fellows stole all of our best ideas!", but by examining the range and power of Goudy's work, the great craftsman-designer³ remains one of the creative giants of type design in recorded history.

Some of the typefaces designed by Goudy:

Camelot (1896), Pabst Roman (1902), Pabst Old Style (1902), Village (1902), Cushing Anrique (1904) a redesign of an earlier ATF Cushing font, Copperplate Gothic (1905), E-38 also known as Goudy Light, (1908), for Lanston Monotype Machine Company, Kennerly (1911), Forum Capitals or Forum Titling (1911), Goudy Old Style, later renamed Goudy Antique, this same type was issued as Lanston (1912) by American Monotype, and was named Ratdolt when cut by the Caslon Foundry in England. Goudy Old Style (The 'real' Old Style!) commissioned for and issued by ATF in 1914-15. Goudytype (1916), Hadriano (1918), Goudy Open (1918), Goudy Modern (1919), Italian Old Style or Frenchwood Ronde - for ATF (1920), Goudy Newstyle (1921), Goudy Sanserif Bold (1922), Venazia (1925) italic designed by Goudy and the roman cut by E.P. Prince, Goudy Extra Bold (1926), Deepdene (1927) for Monotype, Goudy Text (1928), for Monotype, originally called Goudy Black, Kaatskill Roman (1929), Medieval (1930), Kennerley (1930), Goudy Sanserif (1925) - produced by Lanston Monotype 1930-31, Franciscan (1932), this was a re-cut of his earlier design 'Aries', Tory text (1935), Friar (1937), University of California Old Style (1938), also issued as Californian by Monotype, and as Berkeley Old Style by ITC., Goudy 'Thirty' (1942), Village No. 2 (), Saks ().

¹ Frank Holme died in 1904 from TB at age 36. He was a multi-talented newspaper artist in Chicago who set up and ran the school in addition to all his other interests. Frank Holme is America's forgotten Illustrator, teacher, wood engraver, printer and publisher, and founder of Bandar Log Press. Holme's color wood blocks are not only stunningly beautiful but technically unique in the history of American printing. One exceptional graduate of Holme's School was William Addison Dwiggins who became a celebrated book designer, illustrator, type designer, calligrapher, writer, mural painter, costume designer, sculptor, playwright and marionettes theatre connoisseur. Another famous graduate of the school was Oswald Cooper, who later designed "Cooper Black."

² This is the same Will Ransom who wrote "Private Presses and Their Books" (Bowker, 1929).

³ Childhood memories of an advertising agency creative director . . .

"The page on Frederick W. Goudy brings back an extraordinary experience I had when all of five or so years old. I grew up in Forest Hills, NY and when I was a very small kid. the family used to go on vacation to Marlboro NY, to stay for a couple of weeks at a guest house run by a family named Meccus (not sure of the spelling). Down the road was a friend of my mother's named Peter Bylenson (?) who ran a small print shop called "The Peter Pauper Press",¹¹ and they turned out lovely small hardcover books on a variety of subjects, for about a dollar a copy. Being probably four or five, I remember little of it, except that I met an older man who showed me how to draw letters, since I was learning the alphabet at the time. He gave my Mother a sample drawing that he'd done, and rejected, as an example of the grace and beauty that was inherent in the "drawing of letters". When I read the biog of F.W. Goudy, I realised that he was probably that older man. Wow. What a rush. To think that, as a kid, I actually met one of the greats of typography. And, after over 40 years in advertising and design. what he said to me still holds true. Draw letters so people can read them, and do it with style and grace." — Ron Kambourian

¹¹Some notes on the "Peter Pauper Press".

The original people who ran the "Peter Pauper Press" were Peter and Edna Beilenson. Peter started the press in 1928 and had carried on until his death in 1962. He was 56. Edna not only continued on but expanded the business after Peter passed away. She was a crucial part of the press since it's inception, and a full partner since 1932. They certainly made quite a splash on the American publishing scene. Creativity, professionalism, dedication, great business acumen, marvelous illustrators (Valenti Angelo, Frtiz Kredel, Richard Floethe), great editing and many enchanting colourful covers designed by Edna made the "Peter Pauper Press" truly unique. In total, the press published over 400 editions on a broad range of subjects. No wonder Peter, Edna Beilenson, and the "Peter Pauper Press" became an American legend. — Nicholas Fabian

The End

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