In terms of layout, typography, paper, format etc, what have you changed and what have you kept the same?
We ended up changing a fair bit in the end, over the last 100 years the book had being re-published numerous times but just as facsimiles and the technical restraints of producing a book in 1906 obviously meant that there were some creases to iron out. The main task of the layout was re-ordering the information so it was much easier to digest and reference relevant diagrams and illustrations. In the original you’d often get an illustrated example a few pages away from the text it referred to.
We also changed the size of the book itself. It’s intended use is as a manual for calligraphy, one to be constantly referenced, so I felt a larger size and soft cover would allow it to be used more easily as a manual, the pages open wider and have more space surrounding the content to make it a bit easier to work alongside.
The structural layout was tweaked, although I based all the grids and margins on the guidance set out by EJ in the book. I was really pleased with the interior layout once I applied the girds detailed in the book. The layout felt to me a lot like Johnston Sans in some respects – very simple and clean but with some characterful quirks. It’s not a layout I would have chosen if I was starting from scratch, but I really like that, it took me in a different direction to what I would normally feel comfortable with.
Paper-wise I opted for a nice toothy ivory paper by Fedrigoni for the book as it felt like a nice nod to the antiquity of the original and I loved the look of the woodcuts on an off-white stock.
One typeface was a given; it had to be Johnston Sans (the P22 version, as the original isn’t commercially available). The other two I deliberated over quite a bit. The text font I arrived on through my research, I was over at St Brides and the curator showed me some copies of The Imprint magazine that EJ worked on with Francis Ernest Jackson, J. H. Mason and Gerard Meynell – it turns out a serif font, called Imprint, was created for this magazine and was available on My Fonts. So I opted for that as the text face, aside from the nice link back to EJ it was a lovely serif complete with non-aligning numerals which I was keen to use. I also wanted a final display face, and something that demonstrated how EJ’s legacy was still alive today. I happened upon a face called Sectra by Swiss foundry Grilli. I loved the look of it, and reading about it I discovered it was based on broad nib calligraphy – the technique for which EJ was a pioneer. This for me was a perfect fit, a contemporary foundry creating a face inspired by the techniques of EJ a hundred years before.