Friday, March 25, 2011

The Perfect Page

A page of printed black text. There are minor blue and red accents.
An imperfect image of a perfect page
In 1470 Nicolas Jenson printed the first book to employ his new Roman type, Eusebius's De euangelica praeparatione. Jenson is believed to have come to Venice from Germany where he had learned the new craft of printing. When he set up his own printing house in Venice, he cut his type to reflect the humanist hand favored by Italian scribes. The result is the grandfather of all Roman typefaces, one that is still emulated today.

Jenson is also famous for his austere text blocks, perfect in proportion and obsessive in layout and typography. Below is T.J. Cobden Sanderson's homage to Jenson, his The English Bible (Hammersmith: Doves Press, 1903).

A page of text printed in black with no paragraph breaks.
To see Jenson's masterpiece, ask for Incunabula 54. For the Doves Bible, ask for Hickmott 94.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Wheelock Succession in Chairs

A needlepoint chair cover prominently featuring the name Ernest Martin Hopkins.In addition to the presidential portrait that each member of the Wheelock Succession sits for during his presidency, the College has another tradition for honoring its former presidents: a mahogany Chippendale-style chair with a seat cover worked in needlepoint, showcasing a variety of symbols representing the president and his administration. No two seat covers are alike nor are the stories and accomplishments behind the symbols. The Ticknor Room in Rauner Library has recently become the new home of fourteen of these chairs after they spent many years serving as the dining room chairs in the President’s House.

The idea for the chairs began with Mrs. John Sloan Dickey in 1958. Using designs created by John Scotford '38 for the first twelve presidents (with the help of the College Archives), Christina Dickey worked the needlepoint covers over a period of twelve years. She completed the twelfth chair, honoring her husband, in 1970, the year of his retirement from the presidency.

A needlepoint seat cover reading "James Wright, 16th president" and showing a podium world map, among other images.
The tradition has been carried on with the newest addition of a chair honoring the 16th president of the College, James Wright. The needlepoint for the Wright chair was worked by President and Mrs. Dickey's daughter and granddaughter. That chair, coupled with the chair of Dartmouth's 15th president, James Freedman, is currently on display in the Treasure Room in Baker Library.

To see the chairs of the first fourteen members of the Wheelock Succession and to study the key to the symbols on all sixteen chairs, come to Rauner Library and ask to be directed to the Ticknor Room and to see Rauner Iconography 1282.

Photos: James Wright Chair by Joe Mehling '69; Ernest Martin Hopkins Chair by Jon Gilbert Fox