Jan 21 2012: A Fragment from a Potential Bacterial Alphabet (Principles of Biology, c.1938)

Somehow, I suspect it will continue to be a source of great disappointment that this set of illustrations showing different kinds of bacteria didn’t continue beyond the letter ‘i’ and run to a full 26 figures for quite some time. The calligraphic quality gives each individual image in this grid the potential to be read as a letter-form in its own right, and the possibility of constructing a new kind of typeface from these illustrations remains tantalisingly open. If the appropriate signs to cover the letters ‘i’ to ‘z’ can be turned up elsewhere, these bacteria could reshape themselves into one of the most beautiful alphabets yet devised: the perfect font in which to reproduce the poetry of Henri Michaux, for example. Something worth seeking out in any future random heaps of obsolete print I might happen to find on my travels, then…

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