Smart swash cap for airship design

R100 cover loresR100 inside lores

I have already written about the brochure shown above on my Dambusters blog. However, I thought I would draw attention to it again here, and also write something more about the design and typography.
The brochure (from the Ray Hepner collection) was produced to promote the R100 airship, one of the earlier projects with which the engineer Barnes Wallis was associated. His name of course well known as the person who designed the so-called bouncing bomb during the Second World War, but he had a long career both before and after this period. Back in the 1920s, Wallis headed the design team which built the R100 airship. This was a privately designed and built rigid British airship made as part of the Imperial Airship Scheme, a competition to develop a commercial airship service for use on in the British Empire.
The brochure would seem to have been designed about the time of R100’s first flight. The title page has an interesting design, which involved some hand mortising of metal type. The title itself is set in a large size of Garamond Italic and Roman, with the full point hand cut so that it fits exactly above the tail of the curve of the swash capital R. The rest is set in smaller sizes of Garamond. The upper and lower case in the “Designed and constructed” line was obviously letterspaced in order to drive it out to the same width as the line below. I’m not sure the purists would approve of that.
The cover is completely different: a peculiar sans serif with a short tailed R for the title, and an even odder script for the “Howden Yorkshire” line appear below a rather nice illustration of the airship.
R100 first flew in December 1929. It made a series of trial flights and a successful return crossing of the Atlantic in July–August 1930, but following the crash of its rival, R101, in October 1930 the Imperial Airship Scheme was terminated and it was broken up for scrap. R100, which it could be argued had the more innovative design, was thus terminated even though it had a more successful life.

[Thanks to Ray Hepner]


Every night I sit here by my window

Bobby Darin Things
Every night I sit here by my window (window)
Staring at the lonely avenue (avenue)
Watching lovers holdin’ hands
And laughin’ (ha ha ha)
Thinkin’ ’bout the things we used to do
(Thinkin’ ’bout things)
Like a walk in the park (things)
Like a kiss in the dark (things)
Like a sailboat ride (ya ya)
What about the night we cried
Things like a lover’s vow
Things that we don’t do now
Thinkin’ ’bout the things we used to do

Things by Bobby Darin

Things magazine is a blog which harks back to the original idea of blogging – a concise, erudite guide to material on the interwebnet which the writer has come across, and which he or she thinks might be interesting to other people.
It describes itself as a blog about objects, collections and discoveries. It started as a magazine in 1994 produced by a group of writers and historians based at the Victoria & Albert Museum/Royal College of Art. It then became an independent magazine, separate from these institutions, a biannual home for new writing – essays, reviews, short stories and poems – about objects and their meanings and then evolved in 2001 into a regular blog.
Recent entries have included links to articles about The Classical Organ in Britain 1955-1974, 70s interiors rendered in vivid colour, pictures of abandoned UK railways, a restored modernist gem in Hayling Island, the art, design and story of Kentucky Route Zero and, last but by no means least, the secret, library-based apartments of New York.
The magazine will itself no longer be published in print (sigh), but should continue as a PDF.
Nowadays it often seems that our online spaces have been taken over by the cacophony and illiteracy of social media. Like the Guardian and Radio 4, Things magazine is a corner of the mad, mad world where a calm and witty approach to life still prevails.

Dangling conversations, superficial sighs


Picture © Copyright Stephen Richards and
licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

I came across this picture on the Geograph website, having followed a link on a post by the justly-venerated Diamond Geezer about the furthest south-east point in London. Nice picture, but what made me laugh was the great example of a dangling participle in the caption underneath: ‘Having stopped the car to consult a map, this horse appeared to be posing so obligingly that it seemed rude not to take advantage.’