I came across two sample books containing printed examples of the work executed by the students in the Composing and Machine Departments of the Polytechnic School of Printing, between 1907 and 1910. I couldn’t resist adding these to the archive. The books (almost scrapbooks), a selection of letterpress designs, trichromatic and halftone printing executed by the students in the printing classes.
The principal provides an introduction that sets the tone by expressing their educational objectives, ‘Our object has been to produce effective specimens in various styles of display, combining simplicity of design and harmony of colour, at the same time seeking to stimulate and develop individuality among the students. Our aim has been that designs should be of a practical nature and thus justify the work of the classes, i.e., in qualifying students to produce good work in the routine of the ordinary printing office.’
As well as printed samples of letterpress work the books also contain the sketches by students conducted in their classes. The student’s individualised approach to the tasks can be seen in their construction of letterforms and styles of borders. The sketches have a feeling of nostalgia and my appreciation of the hand-drawn forms only heightened when examining the intricate details in the students’ work.
These volumes collectively provide us with a glimpse into design education in the early 1900s, making them an invaluable addition to the archive. Below are a few further examples from the two books.