No one seemed to notice him: A dark figure who often came to stand at the edge of London’s Hammersmith Bridge on nights in 1916. No one seemed to notice, either, that during his visits he was dropping something into the River Thames. Something heavy.
Over the course of more than a hundred illicit nightly trips, this man was committing a crime—against his partner, a man who owned half of what was being heaved into the Thames, and against himself, the force that had spurred its creation. This venerable figure, founder of the legendary Doves Press and the mastermind of its typeface, was a man named T.J. Cobden Sanderson. And he was taking the metal type that he had painstakingly overseen and dumping thousands of pounds of it into the river.
As a driving force in the Arts & Crafts movement in England, Cobden Sanderson championed traditional craftsmanship against the rising tides of industrialization. He was brilliant and creative, and in some ways, a luddite—because he was concerned that the typeface he had designed would be sold to a mechanized printing press after his death by his business partner, with whom he was feuding.
So, night after night, he was making it his business to “bequeath” it to the river, in his words, screwing his partner out of his half of their work and destroying a legendarily beautiful typeface forever. Or so it seemed.
- Resource: Typography and Type Design