This section is from the book "Cyclopedia Of Architecture, Carpentry, And Building", by James C. et al. Also available from Amazon: Cyclopedia Of Architecture, Carpentry And Building.
In taking up the use of the small or minuscule letter, a word of warning may be required. While typographical work may furnish very valuable models for composition and for the individual shapes of minuscule letters, they should never be studied for the spacing of letters, as such spacing in type is necessarily arbitrary, restricted and often unfortunate. Among the lower case types will be found our best models of individual minuscule letter forms, and the Caslon old style is especially to be commended in this respect; but in following these models the aim must be to get at and express the essential characteristics of each letter form, to reduce it to a "skeleton" after much the same fashion as has already been done with the capital letter, rather than to strive to copy the inherent faults and characteristics of a type-minuscule letter. The letter must become a "pen form" before it will be appropriate or logical for pen use; in other words, the necessary limitations of the instrument and material must be yielded to before the letter will be amenable to use for lettering architectural drawings.
The small letters shown in Figs. 17, 18 and 20 are all adapted from the Caslon or some similar type form, and all exhibit their superiority of spacing over the possible use of any type letter. Fig. 20 is a particularly free and beautiful example indicating the latent possibilities of the minuscule form that are as yet almost universally disregarded. An instance of the use of the small letter shown in a complete alphabet in Fig. 10, may be seen in Figs. 9 and 13.
In lettering plans for working drawings, the small letter is used a great deal. All the minor notes, instructions for the builders or contractors, and memoranda of a generally unimportant character, are inscribed upon the drawing in these letters. Referring again to Fig. 10, the letters at the top of the page would be those used for the principal title, the name of the drawing, the name of the building or its owner, while the outline capitals would be used in the small size beneath the general title, to indicate the scale and the architect, together with his address. In a small building, or one for domestic use, these same letters would be employed in naming the various rooms, etc., although in an elaborate ornamental or public building, letters similar to those in the principal title might be better used, while the minuscule letter would be utilized for all minor notes, memoranda, directions, etc. By referring to Figs. 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 13 and 14, examples from actual working drawings and plans are shown, which should sufficiently indicate the application of this principle.
WEST SIDE BUILDING FOR THE CLEVELAND ELECTRIC ILLUMINATING COMPANY, CLEVELAND, OHIO.
Watterson & Schneider, Architects, Cleveland, Ohio. For Front Elevation and Details. See Page 154.
MUSIC BUILDING FOR DOANE COLLEGE, CRETE, NEB.
Dean & Dean, Architects, Chicago, 111. For Plans and Section, Sec Page 186.
SMALL OR MINUSCULE LETTERING FROM A HAND LETTERED INSCRIPTION IN BRONZE IN THE CATHEDRAL AT BAUMBERG, 1613.
It must again be emphasized that practice in the use of these forms combined together in words, as well as in more difficultly composed titles and inscriptions where various sizes and kinds of letters are employed, is the only method by which the draftsman can become proficient in the art of lettering; and even then he must intelligently study and criticise their effect after they are finished, as well as study continually the many good drawings carrying lettering reproduced in the architectural journals. For this purpose, in order to keep abreast of the modern advance in this requirement, he must early learn to distinguish between the instances of good and bad composition and lettering.
Fig. 20. Pen-drawn Heading, by Harry Everett Townsend.