In the argot of the printing office a hellbox has been a couple of related things. In manual setting of foundry type it was a casket into which, after a page had been set and printed, the sorts – pieces of type – were deposited. Damaged ones would be discarded or recycled, and viable ones returned to their places in the typecase, ready to set new copy. In hot metal setting it referred to a bin where after printing, the blocks of machine-set lead that made up pages were put before being melted down to use for the next job. The idea of a box to dump words into prompted its use as the title of this website.
The posts here are mainly about particular aspects of design, typography, printing or publishing, and the old and new technologies around these subjects. The emphasis on latin-alphabet and English-language subjects here is not owed to any sense of their greater importance, but to these being the context of the things I know a little about.
I have worked in publishing since the late 1980s, the time in the print trade when photocomposition which had all but replaced manual and mechanical typesetting was itself being definitively superseded by digital composition. Although I remember what it was like to assemble photoset type on a parallel motion board using layout sheets, scalpel, cutting board, glue spreader and rubber cement, for practically all of my working life the context has been keyboard, mouse, screen and office printer. My work has mostly been in typography, design and some of the technical aspects of print and digital production. I have been on the staff of the London Review of Books for 23 years, and continue to do print and digital work for other publishers, writers and artists.
¶ Comments. Commenting on posts is not enabled at present but feedback is welcome and can be submitted using this website’s contact form. ¶ A note on the type. The typeface used for the body text and headings on this website is Questa, designed by Martin Majoor and Jos Buivenga. As well as the serifed text and display versions used here, Questa is available in sans serif and slab serif styles.