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Whole Earth Field Guide

Contributed by Florian Hardwig on Apr 22nd, 2019. Artwork published in
October 2016
.
    Whole Earth Field Guide 1
    Source: https://mitpress.mit.edu License: All Rights Reserved.

    A source book for American culture in the 1960s and 1970s: “suggested reading” from the Last Whole Earth Catalog, from Thoreau to James Baldwin.

    The cover design of the Whole Earth Catalog with its iconic use of Windsor has been referenced so many times that by now it’s a typographic meme. The examples range from homage to appropriation to in-joke, from contemporary to recent. Several are documented on Fonts In Use: Our Earth Our Cure (1974), Our Last Whole Summer Rectangle Catalog (Visual Grammar, 2012), or The Doomed Earth Catalog (New York magazine, 2017). Some more examples can be found in Sean Flannagan’s collection, e.g. The Whole Burbank Catalog (1972), The Alaska Catalog (1977), The Whole Birth Catalog (1980), or The Whole Seed Catalog (2018).

    Among the more interesting riffs is Neil Donnelly’s cover for Last Futures (2016) by Douglas Murphy. The sliced text is half in the frumpish old Windsor, half in a slick neo-grotesk (Unica).

    The designers of the Whole Earth Field Guide cover pursued a different kind of update: The paperback edition features Heroine. This early release by Göran Söderström is a sans-serif (or flare-serif) version of Windsor; it was conceived as a “modern interpretation of this rusty pearl”. Heroine comes in two widths with five weights each and has many alternates, including the swash caps used for the initials here. Originally released with Peter Bruhn’s Fountain in 2009, it now is available on request from Letters from Sweden.

    The Whole Earth Catalog was a cultural touchstone of the 1960s and 1970s. The iconic cover image of the Earth viewed from space made it one of the most recognizable books on bookstore shelves. Between 1968 and 1971, almost two million copies of its various editions were sold, and not just to commune-dwellers and hippies. Millions of mainstream readers turned to the Whole Earth Catalog for practical advice and intellectual stimulation, finding everything from a review of Buckminster Fuller to recommendations for juicers. This book offers selections from eighty texts from the nearly 1,000 items of “suggested reading” in the Last Whole Earth Catalog.

    The hardcover edition stays closer to the original: “Whole Earth” here is set in Windsor.
    Source: https://mitpress.mit.edu License: All Rights Reserved.

    The hardcover edition stays closer to the original: “Whole Earth” here is set in Windsor.

    Typefaces

    • Heroine
    • Windsor
    • Helvetica
    • Warnock

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