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A Line of Type. 120 Years of Typographic History by Alessio Leonardi in splendid collaboration with Jan Middendorp.
Commissioned by Linotype GmbH, this book project began towards the end of 2005 and was completed just in time to celebrate the 120th anniversary of this great company.

A Line of Type
by Alessio Leonardi
& Jan Middendorp

Mergenthaler Edition,
Bad Homburg, Germany
112 pages in full B&W
More than 100 drawings
and a lot of written words.

From the backcover of the book:
One summer’s day in 1886, the publisher of the New York Herald suddenly exclaimed: “Ottmar, you have cast a Line of Type!”.
The “line” in question was a hot metal slug that had just been produced by a brand new machine called The Blower. This hissing apparatus, which scooped its type from a boiling pot of lead, was the latest in an endless series of attempts to set type mechanically – and the first one that worked.
After that memorable afternoon in 1886, the machine would be called “Linotype.” Its inventor, a German emigré named Ottmar Mergenthaler, has been recognized as one of the genius inventors of the 19th century.

Today, it is hard to imagine what a sensation the Linotype caused; few people realize what landslide changes Mergenthaler’s invention brought to written communication. That’s because it was 120 years ago, and so many things have happened since. To mention a few: the Improved Linotype, the erection of the Eiffel Tower, the first World War, surrealism, the puppet shows and type designs of W.A. Dwiggins, Times New Roman, World War Two, the careers of Hermann Zapf and Adrian Frutiger, the coming of Helvetica, the Cold War, James Bond, the advent of photo-typesetting, the death of photo-typesetting, the May 1968 uprising, the advent of laserfonts, the death of of laserfonts, the advent of PostScript, the death of… well no, not just yet. And finally in 2006, Linotype’s jubilee year, the friendly takeover of the company by its old competitor, Monotype Imaging.

All of this and more is discussed in the present book. Is it possible to tell so many compelling stories in one volume that barely surpasses 100 pages? Alessio Leonardi, the Italo-Berlinese designer and raconteur, thought it shouldn’t be a problem. Jan Middendorp, the Dutch-Berlinese type writer and page maker, was skeptical but took part nevertheless.

Some pictures can be found (if you really look for them) at (where you can also buy the book!).

“Ottmar, you have cast a line of type!”

The book was translated by Seonil Yung and published in e slightly modified version by a well known corean publisher, the ag Books in Seul. One of the most important changes was the language, but also the writing system. If you look at it very closely, you will probably recognize, that corean is not written with a latin alfabeth.
For the first time Mr.Typo is speaking an asian language without loosing his identity.

Here you can find some of the pictures that were realized exclusively for the corean edition: they were intended to update and complete the book, but never went printed!
Please, feel free to click on the images to see them in full size.

The History of Typefoundries: a Timeline from the Beginning to the next Future.

Tolbert! You have done it again …

The Monotype’s working process

A dialogue between Mr. Morison and Mr. Gill.

by Alessio Leonardi
& Jan Middendorp

ag Books,
Seul, Corea
168 pages in full B&W
More than 100 drawings
and a lot of written words
that I cannot read.

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© 2005 Alessio Leonardi, (last update 24th November 2012)