The Crystal Goblet

Published by Cindy Buckley Koren on

“Bear with me in this long-winded and fragrant metaphor; for you will find that almost all the virtues of the perfect wine-glass have a parallel in typography.”

Beatrice Warde (1900-1969)

Although American Beatrice Warde used the pen name ‘Paul Beaujon’ she was generally known as the ‘First Lady of Typography’.

Mrs. Warde stands out as one of the few women in the world of typography before the advent of the computer. And yet, she did not design any typeface. She was more like the Keeper of the Flame for the Noble Art of Letter Writing as a marketing manager for the British Monotype Corporation. She is credited with having “the common touch” and so was able to give popular lectures on the art and history of typography and act as its chief propagandist. At one lecture to the horror of librarians, she recommended that readers “feel” the page.

“People who love ideas must have a love of words, and that means, given a chance, they will take a vivid interest in the clothes which words wear.”

She entered the world of typography through her job as a librarian at the American Typefounders Company and through her marriage to Frederic Warde. They decided to devote themselves to typographic studies. She went on to write on typography for The Fleuron and demonstrated a flair for typographic detective work on the origins of typefaces.

Her essay The Crystal Goblet written in 1932 is often required reading for students of Typography.

But not everyone subscribes to Warde’s philosophy… there are many critics.

“Let’s just pour concrete into the crystal goblet and toss it overboard, along with the banal idea of invisibility”.

—matthew butterick

TDC Beatrice Warde Scholarship

The Type Directors Club and Monotype offer a scholarship under her name for young women who demonstrate exceptional talent, sophistication, and skill in the use of typography. The Beatrice Warde scholarship emphasizes the merging of technology and typography, as she used to encourage the best use of technology in design.[23]

Cindy Buckley Koren

Cindy Buckley Koren is the founder of {meetinghouse} Creative Collaborative and Professor of Communications Design at PrattMWP College of Art and Design


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