Charles Bluemleim is known in calligraphy circles for a series of of script alphabets in a 1944 booklet, Script and Manuscript Lettering
, published by the Higgins Ink Company of Brooklyn, New York in order to promote their inks.
His methods are described in the introduction:
“Mr. Bluemlein designed the alphabets after long experience and close study of the possibilities of injecting character and personality into script. For years Mr. Bluemlein would ask friends and acquaintances for their signatures. He carefully studied the most outstanding of these seeking unusual manipulations of the pen and relationship of lines and curves which gave them character. Sometimes a single letter would be the key to a complete alphabet. Mr. Bluemlein interpreted the signatures, changed, organized and embellished them into a series of 32 script alphabets. He did this by projecting the signatures to a large size thus enabling him to pick out the character notes. We believe they form an invaluable contribution to the annals of script lettering.”
Such alphabets are not easily turned into convincing fonts, partly because mechanized scripts benefit from the variability of the hand, but also because many connections between letters must be tweaked for the font in use to look hand-done. The most serious attempt to ‘fontify’ these alphabets is by Alejandro Paul
, and sold as the Bluemlein Collection of 32 fonts. In the original catalog each alphabet is introduced with a fictitious person’s name set in the script – such as Miss Kathryn E. Robertson, Mr. Franklin Y. Benedict – suggesting that the depicted lettering was the personal style of that imagined person. Alejandro Paul’s fonts use these as font names: Mr Benedict
, Monsieur la Doulaise
, Herr von Muellerhoff
, and so on.
Other fonts based on Bluemlein include: Kolinsky Sable
from Spiece Graphics
(Bluemlein’s Mr. Ronald G. Sheppards, transgendered by Paul as Mrs Sheppards
) and Bender Script
from Dear Alison
(“pulled together from numerous Bluemlein samples”).
Biographical information about Charles Bluemlein is difficult to come by. Typography enthusiast Luc Devroye has discovered someone with a matching name: “there was a private Charles P. Bluemlein among the Men of Company A 346th Infantry, 87th Division World War I - 1919. This company was formed on 19 September 1917, trained at Camp Pike, Arkansas, and was deployed from Camp Dix to England and France. That would put the date of birth of Bluemlein around 1900 [consistent with the picture in the 1944 booklet].”