Typographic Time Capsule of A London Street

Two days ago Type Worship launched their first typographic print. It was created by Jamie Clarke, who works with Elliot Jay Stocks on 8 Faces. The illuminated letterpress print is an historical and present–day snapshot of Exmouth Market in Clerkenwell, a vibrant little street around the corner from Clarke’s home in Central London. It captures the street’s 400–year history and records its present–day establishments. Decorated capitals spell “Exmouth” which have been inspired by lettering found on the street or designed to reflect its colourful past. Letterpress printed by the renowned Hand & Eye letterpress in silver, turquoise and black on Crane’s Lettra 300gsm paper, the prints are individually signed in a limited edition of 250.

Exmouth Market is one of Central London’s hidden gems, packed with independent shops, restaurants, cafés and market stalls. This snapshot aims to preserve the street’s unique identity by recording each of its present-day “establishments of note” and regular market stalls. It also delves into the location’s shady 400-year history that includes blood sports, a disreputable Victorian tea garden and an atrocious graveyard now buried under the adjacent park.

To evoke the style of the market, the decorated initials, spelling “Exmouth”, have been inspired by the rich assortment of lettering found on the street or designed to represent its past. The ‘E’ features decorative elements that symbolise the market’s watery origins: the ancient spa and the naval officer that Exmouth Market is named after. Other pictograms symbolise the vineyards, duck ponds, Victorian tea gardens and the graveyard. The ‘O’ represents Joseph Grimaldi — father of all modern-day clowns, who lived at № 56. The ‘U’’s floral pattern is inspired by the vine leaf frieze that decorates the church of Our Most Holy Redeemer and the ‘H’ echoes the original butcher’s livery, now maintained by the restaurant Medcalf.

The text is also full of little typographic details as it weaves across the page, making full use of the typeface’s historical and ornamental characters. It was set in Minion, the Adobe Original designed by Robert Slimbach. Inspired by the timeless beauty of the fonts of the late Renaissance, the typeface presents the richness of the late baroque forms within modern text formats.

To uncover Exmouth Market’s intriguing story, research was conducted over several months from sources including old directories, maps and newspaper clippings that date back over a hundred years and from the archives of the Islington Local History Centre. As if to highlight the need to capture the present incarnation of this rapidly evolving street, one of the street’s oldest establishments, Clarks’ Pie and Mash Shop, shut down after 83 years in the final stages of typesetting the design.

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