Nicolete Gray

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Although a very few collectors and printers, such as T. J. Lyons, had been working with it earlier, the serious study of 19th century ornamented type begins with Nicolette Gray's book XIXth Century Ornamented Types and Title Pages. London: Faber and Faber Limited, 1938. (Note that at this time she spelled her first name "Nicolette.") At that time this type was held in such low regard that it would appear that she could not secure funding for proper photographic illustrations of the types (only of the title pages). The type illustrations, therefore were traced by hand by Miss Irene Hawkins from specimens at the St. Bride's Printing Library. This worked remarkably well, and this small-format 1938 volume (which was reprinted at least once) is still well worth having.

In 1976, a second edition of this work was published by the University of California Press (Berkeley, California; but printed in Oxford, England at the University Press there). The title adopted for this second edition was Nineteenth Century Ornamented Typefaces. ISBN: 0-520-03074-5, LCCN: 75-17294. It omitted the chapter on title pages, but added a chapter on "Ornamental Types in America" written by the American printer Ray Nash. By the time of this edition, Gray had changed the spelling of her first name to "Nicolete." This second edition was larger in format and contained much better illustrations. Regrettably, it is out of print and prohibitively expensive.

In addition to her study of type, Gray was also a student of lettering. Her book A History of Lettering: Creative Experiment and Letter Identity (Boston: David R. Godine, 1986.) ["Nicolete" Gray] should be on every shelf. Although it omits the important fields of 19th and early 20th century commercial lettering (everyone does), it otherwise presents an exceptionally broad treatment of a field which is still insufficiently recognized.


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