y acquisition of the Golden Cockerel Press had about it an inevitability that would have done justice to an ancient Greek drama. One of my earliest childhood recollections is of my fascination with printing. When I was eight years old I had my first printing plant, a three line stamp with a font of rubber type. When I was fourteen I got my first real press, a Harris Hand Press with a twelve inch chase, and some fonts of type. I learned to set type, and even printed a colourful monthly magazine. After a span of forty years, including a stint as managing editor of a morning daily newspaper, I found myself ruler of a domain of printing plants stretching along the eastern seaboard of the United States, from a newspaper printing plant in New Jersey, with gleaming new offset web presses which delivered six community weekly newspapers, to a complete book manufacturing plant in Florida, with fifteen Linotype machines and eight gigantic flatbed presses. On these and our binding line we turned out thousands of books in the twilight of letterpress printing on a commercial scale.
When I came to London in 1956 to establish a branch of my American publishing business, I was among the first Americans to set up shop there after the war. I was fortunate to get the remaining years of a lease on a fine office in a Dickensian building at 125 New Bond Street, where I had the upper three floors. Here, I found myself with two sub-tenants, one of whom was Christopher Sandford, with his Golden Cockerel Press.
I shared not only the space with Sandford, but also accountants. Cecil Halpern, a chartered accountant, handled the accounts of my firm and that of Sandford’s, and a few months after my arrival he told me quite frankly that Sandford was in need of cash, and wanted to sell the Golden Cockerel Press. I hesitated not a moment, but bought the Press. I had long known of the name, but I had never seen a Golden Cockerel book. Now I found myself with an inventory of magnificent books, the old revered imprint, and a case of type. The type languished for almost two decades until 1974 when Will Carter had a beautiful idea. He suggested to me that he and his son Sebastian become the guardians of the Golden Cockerel type, under specific terms for its continued use. It was a happy relationship, Will and Sebastian Carter proved to be the ideal guardians of the type, and have used it sparingly and lovingly over the last two decades.
Last year, Dave Farey approached me with the idea of creating digital versions of the original Golden Cockerel type designs. He and his associates at International Typeface Corporation have worked conscientiously and carefully to fashion types whose entrance into the world we can now celebrate. He has been faithful to Eric Gill’s original designs, and created these typefaces that will serve in thousands of books in the future.
Eric Gill, in whatever Valhalla he now inhabits, must be smiling gently at the thought that the types he designed more than half a century ago are to be the basis for these new faces and his creation lives once more.
Thomas Yoseloff is the custodian of the Golden Cockerel Press.
Click here to return to the list of ITC Golden Cockerel essays.
Look at samples of the typefaces:
ITC Golden Cockerel™ Roman
ITC Golden Cockerel™ Italic
ITC Golden Cockerel™ Titling
ITC Golden Cockerel™ Initials and Ornaments