“It became evident in the spring of 1875 that a machine printing capitals alone would not grow rapidly in the popular esteem, and Byron A. Brooks, of New York, who had begun as early as 1867 to solve the problem of mechanical writing, devised a plan for using two alphabets, capitals and small letters, with one key-board. Mr. Brooks was a professor of mathematics, noticing that the type-bar became at the moment of contact a tangent to the circumference of the printing platen, and that by moving the platen slightly forward or back the tangency no longer existed but a new center was created, devised a double-headed type-bar containing both a capital and a lower-case letter. . . The new machine was called the Remington No. 2.”
(This picture is of the No. 6, which took the concept to another extreme and put two sets of characters on each type-bar.)
Image via Wikipedia
The New York State Museum is currently holding two excellent photographic exhibits. The larger of the two is “This Great Nation Will Endure,” Photographs of the Great Depression. Many of these creations of the photographic unit of the Farm Security Administration are familiar, iconic images – Bourke-White’s “At the Time of the Louisville Flood,” several of Dorothea Lange’s controversial photos of Frances Thompson (“Migrant Mother”). But many of them are unfamiliar works by the talented photographers of the FSA, including Ben Shahn, Walker Evans and John Vachon. Well worth the visit, but it’s only open until March 14.
More interesting and varied is “Seeing Ourselves: Masterpieces of American Photography from the George Eastman House Collection.” A few photographs are in both exhibits, but this one features not only the documentary power of Lewis Wickes Hine and Dorothea Lange, but also features images created for commercial, artistic, and personal reasons. There is less that is familiar here, and some genuine surprises – an 1857 daguerrotype of a beautifully dressed African-American girl, and a revelatory photograph from 1983 by Mary Ellen Mark, “Tiny in her Halloween Costume,” that touched me more than any photograph has in ages. This show will be on through May 9, and I’m sure to go back at least once more.