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Dan X. Solo

The Solotype Archive was begun in 1942 when I was 14. I was a kid printer for several years before that. At 16, after a quick three months of training, I dropped out of school and went to work full time as a radio actor and announcer in San Francisco. (Easy to get jobs in those days, due to the war-induced manpower shortage.) In 1949 and 1950, I created a magic show which played West Coast theatres with some success. After that, back to broadcasting.

By 1962, I was completely burned out on radio, so I decided to see if I could make a living with my collection of antique types, which numbered about a thousand fonts at that time. In 1962, I sent out 4,000 catalogs showing the type to ad agencies all over the U.S. The timing was perfect (no thanks to me) because there was developing at that time a renewed interest in the old types. Business took off immediately.

The Solotype collection was one of four commercial collections at the time, but I seemed to have been more aggressive in marketing than the other chaps. (Well, Morgan Press certainly knew how to market.)

Two years into the business, I began to collect alphabets on paper for conversion to photo lettering, which was just becoming mainstream in the type business. We closed the shop for a month every year and went on a type hunt, mostly in Europe where there didn’t seem to be much competition among collectors. Other typographers couldn’t understand how we could do this, but I believe it made people appreciate the resource we offered even more. Over the years, the collection became quite large. When I closed Solotype a couple of years ago, I got rid of about half the archive (because the fonts were dull, or already digitized, or for a variety of other reasons) leaving me with about 6,000 fonts on paper or film.

In 1974, I began to supply Dover Publications with mechanicals for books of 100 alphabets on a particular theme. I did 30 of these books over the years, and 30 more of printers’ ornaments, borders, and so forth. Sometime in the 1990s, Dover asked me to digitize books of 24 fonts each, to be sold with a disk in the back. I did 12 of these. The Dover relationship came to an end when Haywood Cirker, the owner and my special friend, died and the company was sold to another publisher. Dover felt that they had covered the type field thoroughly.

Now in my old age, my wife and I have a mindreading act that is great fun and good for the ego. Even so, when not traveling, I digitize type for relaxation and enjoyment, but have made no effort to sell it. Until now.

Personal details

  • From: United States of America
  • Died: 2012
  • What he does: Type Design
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137 font families by Dan X. Solo

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Freight to me sixty dozen quart jars and twelve black pans.

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Putin backs away from Iraq zeal; Bush, vexed, jogs.

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Quick zephyrs blow, vexing daft Jim.

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Verbatim reports were quickly given by Jim Fox to his amazed audience.

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We promptly judged antique ivory buckles for the next prize.

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Puzzled women bequeath jerks very exotic gifts.

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Typophiles weave dreams of quoins, kerning and juggling complex beziers.

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Whacky pangram quiz flummoxed Steve Jobs.

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Perhaps President Clinton’s amazing sax skills will be judged quite favorably.

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Jump by vow of quick, lazy strength in Oxford.

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Six quite crazy kings vowed to abolish my pitiful jousts.

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How quickly daft jumping zebras vex.

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Jackdaws love my big sphinx of quartz.

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Wham! Volcano erupts fiery liquid death onto ex-jazzbo Kenny G.

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Prized waxy jonquils choke big farm vats.

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Five or six big jet planes zoomed quickly by the tower.

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Putin backs away from Iraq zeal; Bush, vexed, jogs.

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TV folk buy ex-Prez John Quincy Adams’ wig.

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Six quite crazy kings vowed to abolish my pitiful jousts.

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Quickly Shortz dreams up a few vexing jumbles.

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What deaf banjo player gives Max Planck quartz?

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The five boxing wizards jump quickly.

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The sex life of the woodchuck is a provocative question for most vertebrate zoology majors.

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The jukebox music puzzled a gentle visitor from a quaint valley town.

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Jelly-like above the high wire, six quaking pachyderms kept the climax of the extravaganza in a dazzling state of flux.

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Quick zephyrs blow, vexing daft Jim.

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Forsaking monastic tradition, twelve jovial friars gave up their vocation for a questionable existence on the flying trapeze.

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Alfredo just must bring very exciting news to the plaza quickly.

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Bad Joaquin Phoenix wrecks zingy TV film.

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Six big juicy steaks sizzled in a pan as five workmen left the quarry.

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We have just quoted on nine dozen boxes of gray lamp wicks.

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Hark! Toxic jungle water vipers quietly drop on zebras for meals!

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Watch “Jeopardy!” Alex Trebek’s fun TV quiz game.

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Wham! Volcano erupts fiery liquid death onto ex-jazzbo Kenny G.

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ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

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Many big jackdaws quickly zipped over the fox pen.

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Crazy Fredericka bought many very exquisite opal jewels.

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Cozy lummox gives smart squid who asks for job pen.

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Back in my quaint garden jaunty zinnias vie with flaunting phlox.

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We promptly judged antique ivory buckles for the next prize.

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Blowzy night-frumps vex’d Jack Q.

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A large fawn jumped quickly over white zinc boxes.

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Big July earthquakes confound zany experimental vow.

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About sixty codfish eggs will make a quarter pound of very fizzy jelly.

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Sixty zippers were quickly picked from the woven jute bag.

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Blowzy night-frumps vex’d Jack Q.

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Watch all five questions asked by experts amaze the judge.

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Just work for improved basic techniques to maximize your typing skill.

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Six quite crazy kings vowed to abolish my pitiful jousts.

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How razorback-jumping frogs level six piqued gymnasts!