Paula Bailey

January 11, 2012

Typographically speaking

'Old Type..' by Marco Filinesi

If you make a quick search for the use of typewriters in graphic design you may be dismayed to find the returning results lean heavily towards compilations of typewriter fonts – whether to download or to recreate using Photoshop. This is not what I was looking for when I began research for this post, but maybe my search terms are to blame.

I suppose that in the vast majority of cases, paper-based items of graphic design are intended for multiple reproductions, and the use of a real typewriter would be prohibitive for all but the most limited of editions. Unless the hand-typed words were then scanned or photographed, we’re probably looking at other areas of design and art.

I’m going to have to do a lot more research for a future blog post it seems. I know the work is out there, I just need to find a way to get past the proliferation of sites whose owners have worked so hard to make the search engines work for them. In the meantime I would like to share with you some of the gorgeous photographs of old typewriters that I found during my search. If you like them, do click through to Flickr to tell their owners.

And watch this space for another post on the subject. Thanks for visiting.

'let's type' by |vvaldzen|

'Underwood Typewriter II' by Geof Wilson

'sQWERTY' by Troy Paiva

'writing...the old fashioned way' by Darwin Bell

'UPPERCASE Typewriter Event' by Janine Vangool

'Typographer' by Ed McGowan

'Underwood Typewriter' by RiaPereira

'Royal Quiet Deluxe' by Janine Vangool - click image to read her blog

'we regret to inform you' by Andre Govia


January 4, 2012

Book sniffing

I love books. I love the way they look on the shelf or on the table. I love the way they feel in my hand. I love the way they smell. Yes, smell. I confess I am a book sniffer – and I know many of you are too!

New books have the smell of paper and ink, and sometimes glue. Even mass-produced paperbacks have a ‘new book’ smell when you first open them. More expensive books have a smell of their own, but I think my favourite book smell is still the mustiness of old books. Really old ones.

The sensual experience doesn’t end there. Books feel wonderful too. Again, popular novels fit well in the hands – whether we fold them back around the spine, or whether we carefully hold them open to keep them pristine. The beautiful smoothness of the pages of a classy coffee-table book means I find myself running my hands over the pages as I devour the images. Old books, in turn, are fragile and precious, their papers often thin and brittle while their covers may be made from robust materials such as leather, yet weakened at the stitches. Textures abound.

You may have guessed that old books are my favourites. I hope you will enjoy this collection of some stunning photos of some very beautiful old books. And do click through to the originals on Flickr and tell the photographers if you like their photos.

Thanks for visiting, and enjoy.

‘a room without books is like a body without a soul’ by Kevin van der Leek

Libros by Antonio Luis Hernández

‘hotel register from another era’ by Nicholas Mitchell

‘Very old book – from 1752’ by soozika

‘Very old book from 1752 Satyrische Briefe B’ by soozika

Oldies… by M. Raj

‘Pages of Yesteryear’ by Karrie

‘….e le favole spiegate colla storia’ by Marta Ponari

‘Old Book’ by Geoff Powell

‘Old books’ by David Reneses

‘Old Jewish Book’ by (((The Space Between)))

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September 5, 2011

Photo exhibition under the sea

Big thanks to my lovely friends over at PK Perspective, the very talented Scottish photographers Ian and Sarah, who have just told me about an amazing new exhibition taking place under the sea.  Yes, that’s right!

Austrian photographer Andreas Franke visited the wreck of the Gen Hoyt S Vandenberg last year and has made some amazing images from the photographs he took there, along with some surprise guests.  Everyday scenes of people with a vintage twist are set within the backdrop of the decaying hulk and the new life that grows on and around its frame.

The images have been sealed within Plexiglass and are exhibited within the wreck itself – held on by magnets which mean they can be removed easily, without causing damage.

Click on the image below to visit the site and see all 12 photographs, plus a video of them in-situ.

The Vandenberg Exhibition

from The Vandenberg Exhibition


February 19, 2011

Cano Cafenol – how do you take yours?

Chunky Cano Cafenol Cruets

Chunky Cano Cafenol Cruets by Rantz

Today Hipstamatic launched two new films to go with the recent ‘free’ Chunky lens that marked New York Fashion week.  If you missed that one don’t worry, it’s part of today’s release.

I’m not yet convinced about the Blanko Noir film – that will take some more experimentation – but I do like the soft qualities of the Cano Cafenol.  It’s described thus:

Almost as tasty as a cup of morning joe. The mysteriously aged darkness in the Cano Cafenol film is a delightful alternative to sepia processing.

I was expecting a general sepia toning, along the lines of some of the black and white films offered by the app.  I was, therefore, pleasantly surprised to find that it loves colour too.  The sepia is a gentle hint; an atmosphere.  If we’re too hip for rose tinted glasses, we can at least be moody.


Chooks by tony_the_bald_eagle

Cano Cafenol subtly alters the colours, giving a general sepia ‘air’ – in some cases almost as if the image has been hand-tinted.  It seems to work equally well with soft and sharp shots and across several lenses.  So far today, most of the shots I’ve seen have been with the Chunky lens as that’s still a novelty.  It’s a good mix.

I particularly like the border on this one.  I’m a big fan of the Kodot (in its former Verichrome and its current XGrizzled state, which is now part of the standard issue) and the BlacKeys B+W borders, so that will be no surprise.

I have curated a gallery on Flickr with some of my favourite (so far) Cano Cafenol photos from today (and in some parts of the world, yesterday).  There’s still room to add more so I’d love to see what you’ve taken and hear what you think of these new additions.  Also, how do you pronounce it? Feel free to post links with your comments below.



Quick snap taken in my kitchen

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October 25, 2010

Vintage Photo Wallets

I’ve been spending a lot of time over the summer sorting through the archive of the stained glass artist Lawrence Lee (1909 – present).  As you would imagine, there are a lot of photographs.  Luckily (for me) many of them were still kept in the original photo wallets from the various printers he used – and there are two quite different ones from the same printer.

They’re a bit tatty but I thought they were worth sharing.  I’ve also been having some fun (and some frustration) trying to find the fonts over at What the Font.

Gevaert Photo Wallet

This one has “Sandhurst 1956” written on it.  Simple three-colour printing with strong sans serif capitals and lower case (possibly Gill Sans – the printing has made it bleed a little), along with a serif font for italics. An odd hierarchy (if that is what it is meant to be) also using an underline.  To me it seems as though the listing on the back is competing with itself and no decisions have been made.  A handwriting font and a family group, complete with child attempting a Bruce Forsyth pose, add a ‘human touch’ to the front of the packet.

SELO Films

I like the strong black and red of this one and the border really has impact.  Within it we have mostly centred layout on the back, but the front design goes a bit haywire.  It sort of works, but I want to move that pile of films over to the left a little and so something with that red list.  I was disappointed not to be able to find the fonts used for this packet.

Ensign LukosI was also unable to pinpoint any of the typefaces used in this design. I like the one colour approach here and the use of gradient.  Even the form on the back doesn’t look terribly out of place.  If anyone has any thoughts about the fonts used for “Print Wallet” and “Have You Seen the”, please let me know.

The woman shown on the inside flap of the wallet is reminiscent of the Kodak Girl – depicted wearing a blue and white striped dress, through several fashion changes across decades, appealing to young women as the personification of photography for everyone.  In this instance it seems a compact camera is being marketed.

Davis 1

What the Font threw up a couple of typefaces for this wallet from Davis (Photographic) Ltd.  The serif font for the body text is quite likely to be ITC Clearface Regular, and the more ornate, ‘handwriting’ style font bears a remarkable resemblance to Forelle MN.  However, with the latter I did notice that the uppercase E was different in the example I found – though all other letters matched.  I am not sure whether this would indicate a change in the original font, if there were several variations, or if Forelle is a copy of this earlier typeface.

The apostrophe doesn’t come as close to the ‘t’ when I type “It’s Simple” either.  We have to bear in mind that this will probably have been printed using set type and that will differ from any digital version or way of reproducing lettering.  I think this will be a useful font for conveying a particular vintage feel (particularly within advertising) and I’m going to keep it on my favourites list.


Dispensing chemists were once the mainstay of photo processing for the domestic amateur.  Whilst Kodak offered a postal service, Boots (and other chemists) provided a shopfront and friendly service.  This wallet harks back to an era when black and white photography was still the norm, but when colour photography for everyone was becoming more popular and affordable.  This will have meant higher costs for printing these wallets and yet the overall design here is not that far away from the two or three coloured examples above, the only full colour section being the  main photograph on the front.  The Boots logo (unusually in red) doesn’t seem to fit the oval left out of the blue background.

It is difficult to date these wallets but this one has a 1950/60s style – the inner design is somewhat reminiscent of the shape of the old television screens.  Familiar fonts were forthcoming this time – Gill Sans for the main body text (including the italic, with its distinctive ‘p’); Rockwell Condensed for the main front heading; and the more quirky font used for “To keep your pictures” gives an excellent match to a font called Adams Regular.  Another for the list.

Finally my favourite of the lot.  Below is another from Davis (Photographic) Ltd and Lawrence Lee has written “1953 France” on the packet.  I do wish more people had (and would) put dates on things, especially photographs.  This wallet has it all – classy cream and sepia colours overpowered by as many fonts and devices as they could think up in an afternoon.  And yet it remains quite well balanced in composition.

The “Your Snaps” font was sadly untraceable but to me it appears very ‘seaside’ in its appeal and I’m sure I’ve seen it (and its variations) many times before.  It ought to be in bold oranges and blues – the whole wallet is screaming out for the excesses of tacky bomblasts and advertising slogans but it’s just too genteel to let itself go completely.

The ‘business card’ below the funky lettering seems rather plain and unfinished because of the busyness of the rest of the page.  On the back is a very unusual font where the letter ‘r’ is made with a stem and a detached stroke.  Again if you think you know what typeface this is, please let me know.  I’m also interested in the decorative font used on the inside of the wallet.  I think the main body text is Gill Sans again, with the first capitals borrowed from this other perhaps.

Davis 2

I have noticed, while peering intently at the letters, that older printing methods, inks and paper stock will affect the apparent shape of their form and I think that in some cases this might have confused the ‘font recognition’ capabilities of the (still wonderful) What the Font site.

Clicking any of the images will take you to Flickr where you can view them at a larger size.  I’d love to hear what you think of these and if you have any insights into the fonts used. Please feel free to share any links to any other examples of photo wallets.

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September 20, 2010

Photo restoration

At last!  The Photo Restoration pages on my website are complete and live.  Whilst I really need to re-work the whole site, I was keen to get these pages up and running as soon as possible now that I have the publicity materials printed and ready to go.  No point having a web address without anything on it.

photo restoration

My grandfather - this was probably taken around 1918

It all began with this photograph on the left.  This is my grandfather.  He was born in 1900, was too young to serve in WW1 but was working in a bottle factory that got bombed and was injured, which meant he couldn’t serve in WW2 either.  Of course he did contribute but was never on active service.  I have a certificate from the King thanking him for giving up the hotel he ran with my grandmother, so that injured soldiers could be treated – a makeshift hospital.

Old photographs have stories and memories attached to them which is why they are so precious.  The older they are the more scarce they may be – photography was very expensive – and many have become damaged over the years (over the centuries!).  I decided I wanted to display this photograph so set about using my then limited knowledge of photo editing to clean it up.  In those days I was using PaintShop Pro – a brilliant program that at the time did anything PhotoShop could do (I don’t know how it fares these days).  I was very pleased with the result, though I wish I’d scanned the original at a higher resolution.  Live and learn.

photo restoration

My great-great grandparents and their four daughters. My great grandmother stands on the left. This photo was taken in 1889 or earlier.

I tried other photos (my second task was my most treasured family photograph here on the right) and eventually tried working on more modern photos too.  Time and time again I heard stories about the photographs and what made them special.  Often they were the only photograph remaining of a family member, even the modern ones.

I  am now offering restoration as a service. Because I am so keenly aware of how important these photographs are, I prefer their owners to scan them in for me, but of course I will do this if necessary (very swiftly so that I can get the original back and out of my hands as soon as possible).

photo restoration

These little monkeys used their photo as a dart board! It's the only one their father has of them from that age (they're all grown up now).

There are some examples of what can be done, and some price guidelines on my website and you can see any new additions in my Flickr set – I’ll be adding to this as I go along.

I can also make improvements to old slides (usually dust removal and colour improvement) and digital images (such as removal of unwanted objects – see here).

Maybe you have an old photo that should be out on display instead of languishing in a drawer.  If you send me a quick scan I can let you know what can be done and give you a quote.  Or if you have any other questions not covered by the website pages, please email me and I’ll see if I can help.

Alternatively you may be feeling inspired by this and fancy having a go yourself.  If you have PhotoShop or similar editing software, and a scanner, you’re ready to go.  It takes time and patience and trial and error to get the details right, but it is incredibly satisfying.

It is so rewarding to be able to breathe life back into a treasured photograph and if you get to see the face of the owner when you give it to them – that’s priceless.

photo restoration

This was the only photo this guy had of himself as a young man - and with his pride and joy! It had been 'stored' in his back pocket for many years and was in danger of disintegrating. This one took a long time to do but was very rewarding.

September 6, 2010

Arsenic Green

‘Arsenic Green’ is not an easy colour to describe but for many years it was the very green which, according to John Lloyd and the late Douglas Adams was “supposed to make you feel comfortable in hospitals, industrious in schools and uneasy in police stations” (from The Meaning of Liff, 1983).  I’m not entirely sure it is even called arsenic green – but that is what I call it (and so do a company called Farrow & Ball it seems – actually check out their paint colour names, they have one called Dead Salmon too).

Pantone call it 557 U.

Many years ago, copper acetoarsenite was used to colour things green.  The resulting greens were variously called emerald green, Paris green or Scheele’s green (which is, in turn, also known as copper arsenite).  It was used to colour many things including wallpaper, clothing, paints, even children’s toys and as a face makeup to reduce redness. Of course it was very poisonous.  People died and often in quite alarming ways, frequently in green rooms, and usually by inhaling the toxic fumes that were emitted, particularly in damp conditions.  It has even been suggested that this green pigment was the cause of the death of Napoleon Bonaparte.

And we were worried about lead in paint?

For me, this colour (or more correctly range of colours) sums up dusty old school rooms and sensible books, soft furnishing materials and old biscuit tins at my grandmother’s house, and the thick layers of green paint peeling off my grandfather’s old zinc shed, showing the faded versions of the same colour below.  It’s a definite nostalgia colour – not only for my own childhood, but also for the earlier childhoods I read about in my story books. Faded summers.

In design work I would use it to convey a ‘classic’ feel, particularly in book cover design.

What does it mean to you?

Arsenic Green

I’ve curated a Flickr Gallery to accompany this post.

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