21 September 2008

Boys School For Printing

Today was one of those days. The flowers were heavy with rain, the air was crisp, the sky remained dark. One of those days to stay inside with a pile of books and some comfort food. It's time to become a hermit again. Oh wait I'm always a hermit...

Looking for inspiration in a British graphic design catalog from 1965, I came across this fascinating article about a typesetting school in Jerusalem.

The Hadassah Apprentice School of Printing was founded in 1946 and trained boys ages 14 to 18 in typesetting and printing. (Girls had to go to school for cooking, arts and crafts, and nursing. Bummer.) The school was a four year program that allowed students to work on real print jobs from commercial clients four days a week. Boys who participated in the school were granted a postponement of their mandatory military service at age 17 1/2. If they completed the training, they were offered a journeyman's certificate, which allowed them the option to return to printing after their military term was served.

Students collaborated with instructors with the design work but for the most part they were encouraged to do their own layouts. Most of the composing was done in Hebrew, one-third of it in English, and there was additional training in Greek, Russian, and Arabic. Advanced students were trained in setting Hebrew and English in linotype. The jobs included the usual print work - wedding announcements, invitations, letterhead, forms, books etc. Somehow the clients were willing to entrust apprentices with their business.

As someone who can work with a 26 letter alphabet, I am totally amazed at the thought of setting type in Hebrew -- a case contains 400 different signs!

The article was written by Henri Friedlaender, who designed the first modern Hebrew typeface, "Hebrew Hadassah" which is now a part of Dartmouth's Graphic Arts collection of type.


Janice La Verne said...

hey... I am proud to be one of your 5 (more like 50000) readers.

I get so excited when I read about your letterpress activities and typesetting. This activity feels so familiar to me... I must have been one of those boys in a past life. Sometimes I say, "I could eat that" in reference to an inedible object. It's the only thing that comes close to something that is satisfying.

your press is like a kindly mammoth. and she'll be working soon I hope. when I got my press, only about 30 years old, it took a while for it to work properly.

As usual this makes little or no sense. just these were great posts, well worth waiting for.


Alexa said...

How cozy on a dreary day to travel back to 1965 and learn about Hebrew typesetting! Thanks for making me feel like I was there too.

messi awaludin said...
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