Leave It to Joe
Whatever happened to the young typographers who used to enter and win prizes in the design contests run so frequently by The Inland Printer? Were they “one-shots” receiving a moment of acknowledgment and then retiring into oblivion, or did their achievements represent true merit?
In the case of one consistent winner, the latter viewpoint prevails.
Joseph Thuringer is now the proprietor of Rochester Typographic Service, a thriving typesetting plant in Rochester, N.Y., with some 25 employees. He has as customers some of the more important industrial accounts in the country, most of whom have adopted the attitude of “leave it to Joe” when planning the typography of a job.
When Joseph Thuringer first arrived in the United States in 1928, he had received the thorough training of a journeyman compositor in his native Germany in a period when German typography was setting the style for the whole world. In Chicago, where he first established himself, he gained—by virtue of his ability to handle the “new” sans serifs in the European manner—the reputation of being “that jazz age typographer.”
He was sought out by J.L. Frazier, then editor of this publication, who had a tremendous respect for traditional type handling but who was always receptive to new ideas. Mr. Frazier’s interest resulted in a part-time job for the young compositor in planning the magazine, including the design of severa1 covers for IP. After the connection had been terminated, he became a regular entrant in the design contests. He won or placed in many of them for several years. A letterhead contest in which he secured top prize attracted over 500 entrants from shops in every part of the globe. Thuringer reminisces today that the prize money won during the depression period, small as it was, still represented additional income.
In 1934 Thuringer went to Cleveland as a typographer for the firm of Bohme & Blinkmann, and his reputation grew. His unique handling of type and rule into “pictures” attracted wide attention. On the opposite side of the design coin, he proved his mastery of traditional typography with many beautiful examples of 15th century Black Letter composition. Many printers throughout the nation own framed copies of one of the Thuringer designs in this style. This is the 17×22 specimen sheet of Cloister Black, done for the famous series of type specimens produced by the Eastern Paper Co. about 12 years ago. Some 35,000 of these sheets were printed, making it the most popular in the series of two dozen.
The Case-Hoyt Corp. brought Thuringer to Rochester, N.Y., in 1940, again in the position of typographer. After his Cleveland experience, which was primarily in the field of advertising, Thuringer enjoyed the opportunity to work on the wide range of first-class commercial printing for which Case-Hoyt has long been recognized.
In 1945 Thuringer established his own firm, the Rochester Typographic Service. The venture has been an outstanding success. Three years ago the plant was moved into larger quarters. It is now a model typesetting plant in every respect, attracting a stream of out-of-town visitors, including many other well-known typographers. Thuringer, as a practicing typographer, is not at home in an office. He has set up his drawing board out in the shop, and finds the time to look over every job the plant produces.
Thuringer’s touch is visible in everything the shop turns out—ads, booklets, catalogs, house organs, annual reports, etc. He has acquired a splendid collection of types and has inspired his compositors to use them all with flair. Even apprentices vie with the experienced comps. in the production of their own Christmas greetings, for example—a unique event in the modern composing room. The Christmas cards of the “boss” are always collector’s items. He also keeps his hand in by planning the typography of numerous resolutions and certificates “attracted to his plant by the knowledge that they will receive the individual attention of an outstanding craftsman,
This article first appeared in the July 1962 issue of The Inland Printer/American Lithographer. Although uncredited, it is most likely written by Alexander S. Lawson.