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"A Letter To An Imaginary Friend"



This is a question for the utterly bored though (hopefully) thoroughly
knowleagable in the area of the history of typography, and is related
(somewhat) to my "Ye Olde Englishe" posting...

A year or two ago I discovered a thirst for knowledge about the history of
typography (at least as far as the *printed* word is concerned). I am
currently working (however very slowly) on a web site dedicated to -- for
lack of another way of putting it at this time -- the Love of Typography,
and the Typography of Love. What I am trying to accomplish is to use
typographic principles of the past in the contemporary format of web
publishing, using original writing as a medium -- and yes, I must confess,
it is somewhat of a personal love story (forgive me). As such, I currently
project to have four main sections to this work: (1) in the style of early
printed books (which is what a lot of the above research is all about); (2)
in the style of the Victorian era; (3) in an Art Deco era style; and (4) in
a contemporary, "no-holds-barred" (?) style. I will, of course, include a
brief introduction to the appropriate era's typography for each section.
It'll probably take me years to finish, at least to my own satisfaction,
however I have thrown up something on the web already that is still
somewhat preliminary in its formatting, etc. It is called "A Letter To An
Imaginary Friend", and is located at the following URL:

        http://home.istar.ca/~psymon/blossoms/letter.shtml

This is/will be (obviously) the Victorian era section...I'm told that my
love letters are very much "in that way" (my apologies to those who are not
into this sort of mushiness -- don't read it, just "look" at it).

I guess my question here is this: from my understanding -- unless I have
misunderstood what I have read thus far entirely -- a Caslon font is
appropriate (though not, of course, requisite) for this era and as such
have chosen this (more specifically Caslon540, with Caslon decorative caps)
in the titling, etc. (i.e. the parts that are done as graphics). (Please
note: the *very* decorative initials/drop caps I got off the web: I don't
know who originally did them or what font the letters actually are in, I
just found them so beautiful and appropriate to this piece of writing). I
wish I could have done the whole thing in Caslon, but that would have meant
doing the whole thing as graphics (which would take forever to load), and,
I suppose, for this section at least, and with the current formatting, as
well as planned up-coming improvements to the graphic design of that whole
section (nicer borders, etc.), the standard Times font that people use is
"close enough" to at least get the flavour of the era. Please keep in mind
that I'm trying to do *web* design in a historical style, not merely copy a
*book* style (which would be an entirely different thing in itself).

At any rate, before I go any further in a perhaps wrong direction, could
anyone more knowleagable than I please comment on as to whether I am at
least *headed* in the right direction, offer any suggestions, etc.? I have
no real teachers on this other than myself in what I have been able to
read, and books I have viewed in collections, etc. over the last couple of
years. And, of course, I am very open to any comments on what is written
there (which you may, of course, send to me more personally to my regular
e-mail address -- psymon@istar.ca -- if you wish, since this latter has
nothing really to do with this discussion list). It's very important to me
that I get it "right", historically speaking that is, if only as a way of
conveying the beauty of typography of each era involved. If, for example, I
have erred in my choice of font, and there is a font that is far more
appropriate than Caslon, I have no qualms in re-doing the whole thing, and
if I should receive enough suggestions to do the whole thing as graphics
that's easily enough accomplished as well: apart from the sections with red
in them, two-colour graphics can load fairly quickly -- at least, faster
than one can read them -- and I could also decrease the font size to
squeeze more text into a smaller space).

And, finally, I really hope this isn't too great -- or oddball -- a request
on you all...

Thanks in advance,

Yours typographically,

Ron Koster


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