John Kristensen Lecture: “Merrymount Press and the Janson Type”

Saturday, August 25, 2018 at 1:00 p.m.

We cordially invite you to attend a lecture by John Kristensen of Firefly Press.

John, who calls himself “the world’s last D. B. Updike wannabe,” will speak about Merrymount Press and the Janson Type.

Admission is free.

Boston’s Merrymount Press was the foremost American scholarly printing office of the first half of the twentieth century, and its proprietor, Daniel Berkeley Updike, was a scholar and historian as well as an impeccable printer. The masterpiece of the Press was undoubtedly the magisterial authorized revision of The Book of Common Prayer of 1928, considered by many to be the greatest American typographic achievement of the century. Updike chose a seventeenth-century typeface, then attributed (mistakenly) to Anton Janson. The type was then newly available from a German type foundry, cast from original matrices, but Updike chose instead to duplicate — essentially pirate — the type for his Prayerbook. The acclaim that greeted the book’s publication led to a wider revival of the Janson type, which has ever since remained a highly regarded classical book type.

John Kristensen, proprietor of Boston’s Firefly Press, student and collector of D.B. Updike and the Merrymount Press, will discuss the Janson type, Updike’s seminal role in its revival, his further use of the type, and his influence on other printers and designers. The talk will be accompanied by a showing of a number of books, including the 1928 Prayerbook, printed by Updike and others in Janson. Also on display will be the very Janson matrices made for the Merrymount Press, which are now in the possession of Firefly Press.

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