Leonard Jay

A TWENTIETH-CENTURY TYPOGRAPHER AND PRINTER

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I was never taught how to be a typographer; I never went to design school.

However, I was fortunate to have been brought up in a house where metal type was stored under the stairs; printers’ ink was kept in the bedroom; paper was stacked where clothes should have hung; and printing presses lived where a car might have been garaged. In such an environment it was difficult to avoid being schooled in the typographic arts.

My printing education came partly through osmosis and partly from natural inquisitiveness; but to a large degree it was the result of the patient but enthusiastic tuition of a father who loved his work as a compositor. With him I learned how to draw letters, to analyse text, produce layouts, compose type and print: not as classroom exercises, but as real jobs for real people.

In the 1930s, my father had been fortunate to have been a pre-apprentice compositor under Leonard Jay (1888-1963), Head of the Birmingham School of Printing (BSP) 1925-53. Here he received a strong, wide-ranging and inclusive typographic education from which I benefited nearly half a century later.

KEYWORDS:  Printing, Typography

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