Paper Master Patterns (Goudy)

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1. Goudy's Innovation

Goudy developed a method of using paper "master patterns" for his working pattern pantograph engraving. This method is better documented now than most methods. It was never used in larger-scale commercial typefoundry or matrix manufacturing operations, but it has a number of advantages for the artisanal studio.

Briefly, Goudy traced his finished drawing onto a thick paper. Them, using a knife, he cut out the letterforms and discarded them. The remaining portion was glued to a backing sheet to form a right-reading intaglio pattern. This was then used as a pattern to control the tracer/stylus of an industrial pantographic engraving machine to cut the working pattern in metal.

By way of contrast, the standard practice of typefoundries and matrix manufacturers was to trace the finished drawing directly at a pantograph to cut (in any of several ways) the working pattern.

Note: Goudy's master patterns received contemporary documentation in a number of sources. Frustratingly, most of these are still in copyright and cannot be reprinted here. I'll cite them throughout; you would do well to track them down (see the Bibliography for details).

Perhaps the best published illustration showing a completed master pattern is that shown on p. 116 of the Boone article. Note, however, that in this case the bottom of the five lines is missing; Goudy either considered it unnecessary (as it is) or represented it with the bottom edge of the pattern.

The photograph of Goudy at an Engravers' and Printers' Machinery Co. pantograph from the Library of Congress collection published on pp. 28-29 of Bruckner's biography of Goudy (1990) also shows a pretty good view of a master pattern. Bruckner's caption on this photograph is technically accurate, but insufficient. It says that it is Goudy at his matrix-engraving machine, which is true. But he is not engraving a matrix. The pattern in use is quite clearly a master pattern. Goudy must therefore be using this machine to engrave a working pattern, not a matrix. [01]

2. Master Pattern Stock

The stock Goudy used for his master patterns he describes in Typologia as "4-ply drawing paper or thin drawing board" with a thickness of about 0.020 inches (p. 92). Sometimes, in the same source, he refers to it as "cardboard." In the Boone article it is referred to as Bristol board (p. 115). [02] Goudy says that he found the use of Bristol/cardboard patterns "simple and efficient," even though "the pattern is exposed to considerable wear and tear" and though he tended, therefore, to use them only once ( Typologia, p. 91). He says in Typologia that he cuts this board down to 8 x 12 inch blanks for use in his master patterns.

3. Finished Drawing and Master Pattern Alignment

Goudy drew the same five lines on his master pattern blanks that he had drawn on his finished drawings. The top and bottom of these lines represented the top and bottom of the type body. In the mature version of his system, he adopted a uniform spacing of 7 1/2 inches between these on both the finished drawings and master patterns. The other three lines indicated the baseline, x-height and cap-height of the design; their positions would vary with each design.

To align his finished drawings and the master patterns made from them, Goudy used at least two methods (possibly together).

The Boone article says that he used pinholes to "mark the important parts in each design" (p. 115). Typologia clarifies this a bit: he used pinholes to transfer the locations of the five horizontal lines from the finished drawing to the (heretofore blank) master pattern. Indeed, in the lower right illustration on p. 115 of Boone, he can be seen transferring the x-height-line position.

In Typologia (p. 95), he also says that he cut small holes in the finished drawings so that he could see the lines on the master pattern and line things up. This isn't shown in the Boone article. The Kellerman film, however, does show it. If you look at the finished drawing at time 2:49 [03] and several times subsequently, you can see two small squarish holes cut through the finished drawing on the baseline (just to the right of the 'M' and under the left stem of the 'N'). Their approximate squareness shows up best around 2:55. These square holes are also apparent in Duensing's copies of the Paul Hayden Duensing's copies of the Scripps and National drawings at Scripps College ; presumably they are present as actual holes in the originals.

These holes may also appear in a drawing reproduced in Bruckner. In the opening material of his book (pp. 4-5) he reproduces two drawings from the Library of Congress' Goudy collection. They are inked and show lining information (faintly), so they must be finished drawings. They also show, in appropriate locations, what appear to be the shadows of small round holes. It's hard to tell in the reproduction whether these are really shadows of holes (as I think they are) or whether they're inexplicable circles drawn where holes should be.

Goudy says that he takes care that the five lines (particularly the top one) are parallel to the top edge of his (cardboard/Bristol board) blank for the master pattern. This isn't strictly necessary, but it has the advantage that it allows him to use a steel-bladed square against the top edge of the relatively thick master pattern to ensure that lines which should be at right angles to it actually are. ( Typologia, p. 95)

4. Transferring the Drawing

Having set up the same lining information on both, he transferred the letter designs to the master pattern using carbon paper and a hard pencil. This isn't shown very clearly in the Boone article, but it is mentioned explicitly in Typologia (p. 95) and shown at 2:47 in the Kellerman film. In Typologia he notes that he transfers the set width as well. Since this is done on the pattern along with the drawing of the letterform, it gives not only set width but also horizontal alignment.

Goudy does the tracing of the letters freehand, rather than with the aid of french curves and straightedges. The ability to trace a design freehand in this way (and to correct the tracing using pencil, as he says he does) is something that I think Goudy would have seen as a major advantage of his method over the methods of the commercial typefoundries and matrix makers (who used a pantograph directly at this point). Tracing a design freehand in this way while cutting wax or metal for the working pattern would be considerably more difficult with a pantograph. [04]

5. Cutting Out the Master Pattern

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(From Anon. "Type: Frederic W. Goudy Here Demonstrates the Design of One of Advertising's Oldest Devices, a Type Face." Advertising and Selling. Vol. 32, No. 6 (May, 1939) : 38-39.)

After the finished drawing was transferred to the master pattern blank, Goudy cut away the letterforms from it. Boone (p. 116), Typologia (p. 96), and (by example) the Kellerman film make several good points about this: that he uses an illuminated magnifying glass, that he uses a sharp, thin knife [05], and that he takes care to ensure that the knife is held perpendicularly to the paper.

The Boone illustrations show one variation not present in the Kellerman film. In the film, at 4:14, the cut-out master pattern for the Saks 'Q' shows the five lines [06], at fixed offsets from the pattern edges. In the Boone article, however, the illustrations on p. 116 show a pattern blank which has been cut down so that the bottom line is exactly at (is the same as) the bottom edge of the master pattern.

Bruckner also reproduces two photographs of Goudy at work cutting out the master patterns, in his frontispiece and on p. 95. The one on p. 95 shows Goudy's use of a traditional wooden-handled draftsman's knife quite clearly.

Goudy then glued his cut master patterns to a backing board. Boone calls the backing "heavy cardboard" and says that he used "ordinary water glass [07] as cement."

In a regrettable lapse of editing, the sentence in the middle of p. 96 of Typologia in which Goudy discusses the cutting of the counters in the master pattern is a very confused run-on sentence which conflates this subject with the affixing of the cut pattern to its backing and with the engraving of lining and fit information on the working pattern. Unpacking it, I think that Goudy is saying:

I bit to my surprise, I do not think that he says anywhere that he takes special care to align the cut master pattern with its backing, or that he uses the side of the master pattern for alignment in positioning it on the pantograph. If my interpretation of p. 96 is correct, he drew the five lines on the master pattern and engraved them on the working pattern as well, and used them on the working pattern to align it in the pantograph when engraving the matrix. It would be a natural extrapolation that he also used these five lines on the master pattern to align it when engraving the working pattern.

6. Standard of Accuracy

In Typologia (p. 91), he says that his standard for accuracy in the master pattern was one hundredth of an inch. To put that in perspective, it's roughly the thickness of three sheets of ordinar paper.

7. Earlier Practices

The master patterns (captioned "paper patterns") for Goudy Medieval in "On Designing a Type-Face" ( The Dolphin, No. 1, 1933) , Fig. 16 on p. 13 and Fig. 17 on p. 14 illustrate a slightly earlier stage of (or perhaps just a variation of) Goudy's practices.

The first of these, his Fig. 16, does show all five lines. Fig. 17 does not, however. (But see the discussion of the resulting working pattern, Fig. 18; Goudy may simply be being efficient here by indicating only the "head bearing.")

The illustrations in his Dolphin areticle include not only these master patterns but also design drawings, finished drawings, and working patterns

8. Materials and Methods Tried and Discarded

It is always good to know what didn't work.

Goudy wrote "When I decided to become a type founder in fact instead of in name only, and actually to produce my own designs instead of having the work done by other hands, I tried a number of methods before I succeeded in making the simple and efficient [paper] pattern I use today." [08]

In his Dolphin article (p. 21) he says that he first tried "hard fiber [and] sheet brass" and that "at first [he] used a power jig-saw for cutting the fiber and sheet metal and corrected and refined the letters with files and scrapers" but that "this method proved neither flexible nor accurate enough to please [him]."

In Typologia (p. 91) he says much the same thing, but identifies his "fiber" as "bakelite" (that is, fiber-reinforced phenolic resin). Bakelite/fiber proved unsuitable because it varied in dimension with environmental conditions (he says up to 1/32 inch, which is about 0.031 inch - three times his maximum tolerance). He says that the problem with using metal patterns [09] was in the soldering of them to the base.

9. Summary

Goudy's master patterns, like the finished drawings of which they are tracings, are right-reading. Unlike the finished drawings, which are planographic, they are intaglio. Like the finished drawings, they have a height of 7 1/2 inches between the lines indicating the top and bottom of the type body, and they indicate both lining and fitting information. They are 8 x 12 inches in overall size.

10. Notes

1. See the chapter on Goudy's E&PM Co. pantograph for his use of this machine for working pattern engraving between 1939 and 1943.

2. "Bristol" board is a type of heavy paper. Wikipedia gets rather fancy and calls it "an uncoated machine-finished paperboard." R. Randolph Karch, in Graphic Arts Procedures (Chicago: American Technical Society, 1948; many later editions) is more pragmatic and simply calls it "a fine grade of cardboard." It is available in various weights made of a various number of plies. Rimmer used 4-ply Bristol board, which is still made but not easy to find.

3. The time reference is to the copy included with the Making Faces DVD , not the online version on TypeCulture.

4. ATF, in Type Speaks!, shows the pantograph being used freehand, but to be honest I don't believe them.

5. The modern trade-name for this type of tool is an "X-Acto® Knife" (a brand and trademark currently owned by Elmer's Product's, Inc.) It has been manufactured since the 1930s. I do not know if there is a generic name for this kind of knife. In the photograph of Goudy cutting out a master pattern reproduced on p. 95 of Bruckner, he is using a simple wood-handled knife of the style often employed in traditional drafting.

7. Actually, it shows the top two lines and the bottom one; the baseline and x-height line are obscured by glare, but they must be present.

7. "Water glass," or sodium silicate, is no longer as common as it was. Wikipedia (2012) notes that when it is used as a paper adhesive it tends to crack after a few years.

8. Typologia , 91.

9. Mergenthaler Linotype employed soldered metal patterns for their working patterns.

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