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Examination Decrees and Regulations (“Grey Book”), University of Oxford

Contributed by Blythwood on Sep 17th, 2017. Artwork published in
circa 1980
.
    Grey Book.jpg
    Source: https://www.amazon.com Amazon seller/Oxford University Press. License: All Rights Reserved.

    A very strange part of the University of Oxford’s administration for decades was the “Grey Book”, a thousand-page index containing an outline syllabus and every exam regulation for every subject, handed out to every matriculating student. Few if any ever read more than a few pages. It was discontinued around 2016 following years of complaints by environmentally minded students and staff.

    The large Baroque italic is actually rather interesting: it’s the italic of one of the largest “Fell Types”, the collection of punches and matrices collected by Bishop John Fell in the late 17th century now in the collection of the Oxford University Press Museum. This one was cut in Oxford by Dutch/German punchcutter and typefounder Peter de Walpergen, hired by Fell. OUP designer Hugh Williamson’s 1956 Methods of Book Design describes the larger Fell faces as having “a bold irregularity which makes most founts now in use look prim.” (I feel the italic is more effective than the roman, in which the huge Dutch-taste x-height really stands out, which might explain why it’s what’s used here. YMMV.) Iginio Marini’s IM Fell French Canon is a digital revival.

    Copies of the 1970s were credited proudly to “Vivian Ridler, University Printer”, who held the post from 1958 to 1978 and whose post-retirement work was also very engaging. It’s marked with a price and location of sale, but it’s hard to imagine anyone except college and department librarians paying for a copy.

    Besides this rather unexpected quotidian use, OUP had used the Fell types a few years before for Stanley Morison’s book on them and a reprint of Horace Hart’s 1900 book on the same topic. OUP would finally close its print shop just nine years after this copy was printed.

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