Robert H. Middleton, He Leads In Design Production

Robert Hunter Middleton

Robert H. Middleton, like many leaders in the typographic field, sets his own standards of excellence in his private printing shop, the Cherryburn Press.

This magazine’s “new look” owes a great deal to a quiet Chicagoan who seems quite comfortable in the role Frederic Goudy once handled with distinction. Without question Robert Hunter Middleton is today’s most productive type designer, and if he maintains his present pace, he should reach the 100th type very shortly.

Designing Record Gothic, the display type used in this magazine, would alone qualify Bob Middleton as a prolific designer. Begun 10 years ago, this series may run to nearly two dozen variations before it is completed, making it extremely useful for modern advertising purposes. Middleton’s prophetic awareness of typographic trends is evident when we observe the present popularity of the Gothic type group.

In 1908, when he was 10 years old, Bob Middleton arrived in the United States from his birthplace of Glasgow, Scotland, and settled with his family in the state of Alabama. Later he graduated from the Department of Printing Arts of the Art Institute of Chicago and in 1923 took his first job—with the Ludlow Typograph Co. He became director of type design in 1933 and a director of the company earlier this year.

Mr. Middleton has one of the finest collections of wood engravings by the 18th century English engraver Thomas Bewick. This is a reproduction of one of them.

Mr. Middleton has one of the finest collections of wood engravings by the 18th century English engraver Thomas Bewick. This is a reproduction of one of them.

At Ludlow, Middleton’s first type was the well-known classical open-face capital letter named Delphian. Later he completed the Eusebius series, which had been originally designed by Ernst Detterer under the name of Nicholas Jenson.

He continued supplying classical roman for Ludlow, producing Garamond Bold in 1929 and Garamond Italic in 1930. During the 1930’s he designed display types which are still widely used, such as the Tempo series, the Karnaks, and variations of Bodoni—Bodoni Modern and Bodoni Campanile.

Unlike Goudy, Middleton has had to supply types to meet demands for new display letters. The old master of Deepdene, on the other hand, was content to remain a designer of classic types for more limited use, many produced primarily to please himself.

Like many an active typographer, Middleton carries his love for his work into the hobby field. He operates the private Cherryburn Press, which specializes in printing the magnificent wood engravings of the 18th century English engraver, Thomas Bewick. Middleton owns probably the finest collection of Bewick engravings, and fortunate is the friend who receives one of the beautifully printed items from Cherryburn Press.

Author of two small books, Chicago Letter Founding and Making Printers’ Typefaces, Bob Middleton has been very active in the promotion of typographic design. He has been president of the Chicago Society of Typographic Arts, and has been a prime force in the annual International Design Conferences in Aspen, Colo. His long devotion to high standards of design was rewarded with the honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts from Transylvania College in Lexington, Ky. This is one of the very few honorary degrees granted to a member of the printing profession.

This article first appeared in the May 1961 issue of PRINTER and LITHOGRAPHER.


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