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Questions tagged [history]

Questions regarding the history of design, typography and/or art.

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104 votes
8 answers
22k views

Who first discovered CMYK?

It has been used for colour printing for many, many years, but who (and when) first discovered that a bright pink colour (magenta), a light blue (cyan), yellow and black can be mixed to create almost ...
Digital Lightcraft's user avatar
99 votes
5 answers
82k views

Why don't upper case numbers exist?

Capital letters add a lot to text in various ways, for names, brands, emphasis (although capitalisation for emphasis is frowned upon) Why then, are there no upper case numbers?
Digital Lightcraft's user avatar
61 votes
6 answers
14k views

Before computers, how did cartographers draw roads with perfectly parallel sides?

If you're drawing a road on a map, and that road happens to be straight, it's easy to draw its two sides parallel: you just move the ruler. But most roads twist and turn, and drawing their sides ...
Stephen F's user avatar
  • 651
32 votes
2 answers
5k views

What is the name for these serif-like features of stereotypical "Old West" lettering?

Looking at the dedication plaque on the Salt Lake Temple, I was moved to wonder: What's the deal with this stereotypically "American Old West" style of lettering, where almost every letter has sort of ...
Quuxplusone's user avatar
22 votes
1 answer
1k views

Who first used three stacked bars as an icon for "menu"?

The three stacked bars for a menu (known as a “hamburger menu”) seems like a pretty new concept. Is there any canonical information out there about who created this icon? I’m curious because it has ...
J.Todd's user avatar
  • 652
22 votes
3 answers
11k views

Why do most of the well known currency symbols have strikeouts in their symbols?

We encounter currency symbols every day as shorthand for a currency’s name, especially in reference to amounts of money. Most, like these common currency symbols, have strikeouts in their sign. Even ...
elegent's user avatar
  • 1,865
21 votes
3 answers
3k views

How could letters overlap in manual typesetting?

Generally speaking, ascenders and descenders should not touch each other in the text body. This is self-explanatory as it could lead to text that is difficult to read. However, Erik Spiekermann ...
Philipp's user avatar
  • 1,093
21 votes
3 answers
5k views

Why is the effect called Dodge?

In the process of answering a question on Reddit, I got curious about why the Dodge and Burn tools are named as they are. I understand now the terms relate to photography, and "Burn" makes sense to me,...
Sean Duggan's user avatar
21 votes
2 answers
3k views

What is this "circled G" glyph alongside Greek text in an English book from 1765?

From Thomas Edwards' The Canons of Criticism, printed by C. Bathurst (1765) in London, in a font that (as you can see) has long-S and c-t ligatures: The text centered in this image says: of Nat. ...
Quuxplusone's user avatar
21 votes
6 answers
1k views

What can be done to preserve the history of digital design?

I have recently moved, so I went through the process of deciding what to keep, what to donate and what to throw away. One of the things I kept was a banker's box full of examples of my print and ...
cockypup's user avatar
  • 8,156
21 votes
1 answer
2k views

What's the term used when the first word of one page is repeated at the end of the previous page?

There's a common feature in old typography where the first word of a page is repeated at the end of the previous page, usually right-aligned on a line by itself. This book from 1759 shows this ...
Joe's user avatar
  • 713
20 votes
9 answers
8k views

"Good Artists Copy; Great Artists Steal" - How can this concept be supported & explained by a designer?

"Good Artists Copy; Great Artists Steal" This is the most famous version of the concept described by so many great artists, yet, as a designer/artist, I'm not sure how I would explain it. The ...
CuriousWebDeveloper's user avatar
18 votes
4 answers
2k views

How was brand consistency maintained before computers?

The era of computers makes it easy to regulate brand consistency - you can e-mail anyone your branding guidelines in a PDF and it will have all the information they need. However, I still sometimes ...
JohnB's user avatar
  • 20.1k
15 votes
8 answers
5k views

How were scientific illustrations made before the spread of digital computers?

Before the advent of digital computers, a lot of scientific publications had high quality illustrations. How did they do this without computers? EDIT Examples of illustrations to which I am ...
user3368561's user avatar
15 votes
3 answers
1k views

Where did the early graphic design theory in Asia originate from?

As a North American designer, most of the graphic design theory I've encountered can be traced back to the Bauhaus in Germany. I've also read there was a less famous Russian equivalent to the Bauhaus ...
curious's user avatar
  • 8,471
14 votes
1 answer
2k views

What tools would Monks use when DESIGNING a large illuminated letter or pattern?

The answer here: https://graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/a/35128/2611 got me thinking about how illuminated letters were designed. There's a lot of resources out there discussing illuminated texts ...
Ryan's user avatar
  • 23k
14 votes
4 answers
5k views

What are the origins of terms "em" and "en" as typographic units?

As you know one of the most common versions of the dash in typography are the en dash "–" (Unicode character U+2013 and HTML symbol –) as well as the em dash "—" (Unicode ...
elegent's user avatar
  • 1,865
14 votes
2 answers
2k views

Where did the Mountain + Sun Image Iconography Originate?

As far as I know, the Mountain + Sky or Mountain + Sun Iconography is used almost ubiquitously to represent an image file across Windows and Web browsers. Whether it be a: A png file An unloaded ...
TomDot Com's user avatar
14 votes
3 answers
429 views

Examples of expensive color related printing mistakes?

I was preparing a lesson for new designers about "How to make print ready files?" and I wanted to add some historic facts about the greatest and most expensive print mistakes—something interesting to ...
Moataz Zaitoun's user avatar
14 votes
1 answer
5k views

What are some obscure/rare/endangered/extinct typographic symbols?

Just discovered the "asterism" today: ⁂ Super cool. I had never heard of it or seen it before. Wikipedia has more about it. What other typographic symbols are out there that were never all ...
Brendan's user avatar
  • 16.4k
11 votes
2 answers
1k views

Origin of numerical font weight descriptions in typography

The CSS specification (among several others) establish that, when selecting a font, the font-weight may be described using numerical descriptors ranging from 100 to 900 at 100 increments, where 400 is ...
Wtrmute's user avatar
  • 213
11 votes
2 answers
1k views

What design and art concepts were art students/professionals discussing in the 70s?

I'm wondering: If you were [conditional, I'm not asking for people who were actually there] an art (or printing, or advertisement, I'm not sure what the title would have been back then) student or ...
Yisela's user avatar
  • 26.4k
10 votes
2 answers
726 views

Why was capital N temporarily inverted in 1468?

An answer for "Why does the small h letter in Garamond italic bend inward?" shows the following image: The middle row of this image (marked Han 86R, Rome 1468) has the capital N inverted compared to ...
CJ Dennis's user avatar
  • 201
10 votes
1 answer
2k views

What are the major design trends in graphic design history

I'm reasonably familiar with design trends and movements of architecture and, to a lesser extent, art; and i've been interested that many of the asthetic considerations and philosophies loosly lumped ...
9 votes
4 answers
491 views

What resource to learn about the psychological effects of typography?

The recent questions I've asked all about how to achieve a special psychological effect in typography, and I think I need to have a better insights on the psychology of typography to effectively ...
Ooker's user avatar
  • 1,863
9 votes
1 answer
10k views

Who designed monokai color scheme?

I admire Monokai color scheme. Did the makers of Sublime Text design it or is it in use before Sublime Text arrived? The second part of the question is that can I freely copy it for my own editor or ...
Abhishek Nalin's user avatar
9 votes
2 answers
1k views

Are there any films about graphic design?

I'm looking for fiction films that are either about graphic design, or have important elements of its history, and I'm a bit stuck. I'm not trying to find movies that would be inspiring for ...
Yisela's user avatar
  • 26.4k
9 votes
2 answers
833 views

Is the Google logo a good example for basic trends in logo design?

Last year one of the most popular logos changed significantly by introducing a controversial "'new logo and identity family 'designed to work across multiple devices.": I remember that I was ...
elegent's user avatar
  • 1,865
9 votes
2 answers
1k views

How were printing plates produced from multicolour drawings before the digital era?

There are many ways of duplicating an image. I'm thinking of graphics-containing newspapers and magazines circa 1950s and 1960s. When an artist produces an original ink-and-paint drawing/photograph/...
spraff's user avatar
  • 281
9 votes
2 answers
566 views

Can the end of double spacing after periods be dated?

From this Slate article: Hundreds of years ago some typesetters would end sentences with a double space, others would use a single space, and a few renegades would use three or four spaces. ...
F'x's user avatar
  • 2,282
8 votes
1 answer
2k views

Blackletter fonts supporting long s and r rotunda?

I'm doing up a document in the style of the earliest printed documents. For this, I need to find a blackletter font that supports long s « ſ » and r rotunda « ꝛ ». Are there any such fonts out there?...
Joe's user avatar
  • 713
8 votes
1 answer
284 views

Does anyone know what style this monogram is based on?

Was flipping through Louise Fili's book and saw this monogram. The text says it was designed based on 18th century designs, but I'm having trouble finding any reference to this style of monogram. ...
GigiBee's user avatar
  • 81
7 votes
1 answer
1k views

Is there a name for this form of 19th-century (?) table of contents design?

I've been remembering and inspired by an old style of table of contents/chapter summaries where a list of short sentences or phrases describing the events or contents of the chapter is presented ...
Phin Jensen's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
686 views

Classic Pizza Hut Lettering - who designed it?

I can't seem to find any reference to who designed the classic pizza hut logo, although I swear I read it somewhere at some point. Specifically I'm interested in the lettering! Any help appreciated!
Keir's user avatar
  • 71
7 votes
2 answers
248 views

Why do some rare old printed manuscripts have mixed cases?

I wasn’t able to find any example photo, but I recently saw some old manuscripts printed in the 18th century (I believe) at the University of Vienna that had mixed letter casing in the middle of the ...
dragostis's user avatar
  • 170
6 votes
1 answer
815 views

Why is Courier the preferred font in the legal industry?

I watched a video online where a lawyer explained that Courier is the font preferred by both court stenographers (and writers submitting manuscripts), and that it was also the font seen in stenography ...
Michael Lai's user avatar
  • 1,175
6 votes
2 answers
947 views

High pass photoshop filters skips the edges of the histogram?

In this Natalia Taffarel presentation, she explains that photoshop high-pass filter "skips the edges" of the histogram and that for creating an accurate high-pass filter we have to apply -50 contrast ...
Samuel Flores Sanchez's user avatar
5 votes
3 answers
3k views

What are the historical origins of Helvetica?

This issue of a typeface's heritage is of particular interest when attempting to pair faces. The nuances of related faces tend to harmonize well, whether that relation is grounded in history or the ...
plainclothes's user avatar
  • 17.5k
5 votes
2 answers
269 views

What is the origin and the name of this style of the glyph "0"?

Unlike your usual methods of distinction like a dot or a slash in the center, or a narrower shape, this style uses horizontal stress. Good examples of it are the Academica, Turquoise fonts. I'm ...
catemperor's user avatar
5 votes
3 answers
2k views

What are great examples of the influence that design has?

There is a quote that "bad design never killed anyone," but I know that what we do is less trivial than that. What designs have you seen cause real change or have a real influence? Specific context ...
Brendan's user avatar
  • 16.4k
5 votes
1 answer
846 views

What does “Pica” mean in the name of a typeface?

I’m wondering what pica means in the following context -also view Pica Roman n°2 from this article, Pica Hole font, and IM Fell DW Pica font: James Mosley summarises [Caslon’s] early work: "Caslon'...
DiaJos's user avatar
  • 548
5 votes
2 answers
17k views

How to find which brush was used in a layer in Photoshop?

In a new layer, I selected the shape of the letter U and used a specific brush to brush in that selection in Layer 16 (in the screenshot below). Now I can't figure out which brush I used to get this ...
3ft's user avatar
  • 51
5 votes
1 answer
2k views

Why is the numpad on a keyboard not designed to print typographically correct symbols?

As Wikipedia states, the numeric keypad, number pad or short numpad provides calculator-style efficiency for entering numbers. The numpad’s keys are digits from 0 to 9, addition (+), subtraction (−)...
elegent's user avatar
  • 1,865
5 votes
1 answer
154 views

How did Pink get associated with feminine beauty to begin with?

Women's History Month began this week, and gender equality is booming more than ever. Many brands are attempting to show support. Some of those same companies however are facing backlash over their ...
Ryan's user avatar
  • 23k
5 votes
1 answer
305 views

Icon design etymology?

Is anyone aware of any resources for Icon design etymology, or the history of icon design? I'm talking about icons like Wi-Fi/Ethernet/Bluetooth status indicators, add, save, and similar simple images ...
orbitbot's user avatar
  • 153
5 votes
1 answer
143 views

High-Resolution Operina Scans

I'm not sure if this is the right forum but there doesn't seem to be a dedicated typography forum. I'm looking for high-resolution scans from pages of Arrighi's La Operina, which is a classic manual ...
Marc van Dongen's user avatar
5 votes
3 answers
472 views

How were Apollinaire’s Calligrammes typeset?

How were Apollinaire’s Calligrammes typeset? Was it set on a letterpress? Linotype? How were the curved lines achieved? I can't seem to find anything online about this, but I am very curious.
user86371's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
204 views

Identification of a lively style of hand lettering from around 1900

I have come across a certain lively style of hand lettering on some old postcards that interests me. I have only two examples: The full images can be seen here and here. The images are from ...
Wolff's user avatar
  • 21.2k
4 votes
2 answers
241 views

What's the origin of "Kern, Baby, Kern."?

On many blogs and typo-webpages, tutorials etc. I keep seeing variations of this phrase "Kern, Baby, Kern." I have searched for it and found many more occurrences, so it must be a profound truth or a ...
Martin Zaske's user avatar
  • 1,408
4 votes
2 answers
305 views

How did Tove Jansson work with the illustrations for her book "Who Will Comfort Toffle"?

I'm very fascinated by the illustrations by Tove Jansson in her book Who Will Comfort Toffle? You can see some examples of the printed images in this search. In short, the images are printed in 7 spot ...
PetaspeedBeaver's user avatar