Stigmatypie: 19th-Century Dot Matrix Printing

Tonight I found an odd bitmappy portrait of Gutenburg (top) in a fold-out spread of Harpel’s Typograph, a type specimen from 1870. “What is a stigmatypie?”, I wondered. Some cursory research reveals it was a pioneering, but seldom used, technique for producing halftone images with very small type. It was developed around 1867 by Carl Fasol of Vienna.

Stigmatypie is described in the American Encyclopaedia of Printing (1871):


Pictures made with tiny periods of metal type! Not only was this a Victorian precursor to dot matrix printing, but also (in a way) ASCII art.

Read more from John McVey and Peter Fasol (Dutch), who is the source of the other images above, from Carl Fasol’s Album der Buchdruckerkunst.

The Storefront Tile group is a collection of images of tile entryways. Tile was a popular material used in storefront design from the late 19th to mid 20th century. There is a large variety of styles, from simple patterns to intricate mosaic designs. Businesses commonly included their name and logo into their tile entryways. Today, tiles’ use in storefronts has come back in some commercial construction. Another popular material used in storefront entries was Terrazzo. This material, composed of polished concrete and marble, may have put an end to tile use in entryways as it was easier to install and was extremely durable. For the group on terrazzo, please see Terrazzo Floors.



The Future Starts Now - a 20x30 meter ASCII by Rikki Kasso, 2010. Placed on the Mejiro Kindergarten in Tokyo. The ASCII art was based on a photograph, infused with numbers and phrases about learning in English and Japanese. Rikki:

As I thought more into it, it became clear that this text in digital form also known as a “font” was also a brand new language that children will grow up with as an automatic second written language. A “Neo-Neanderthal” age where symbols and icons are used to reform communication.

Sort of like was argued here. More here and here.