Fordson manufactured small, lightweight, affordable tractors that went into mass production in Dearborn, Michigan, in 1917. Eleven years and more than half a million tractors later, production was transferred to Ireland and then later to England. I chanced upon this old Fordson tractor along the New England Highway when I was stopping to look at something else. It was obviously no longer in use, but it looked like it had been well cared for and it was still in pretty good nick. The most corroded part was this grille, and although I like the typography, it is the grille I find most interesting: a modern art bas-relief sculpture at the side of the road.
Rockwell is a slab serif typeface released by Monotype in 1934. The design, based on Litho Antique, was overseen by Frank Hinman Pierpont, Monotype’s in-house designer. Rockwell is geometric and mono-weighted (although with some slight unevenness that stops it looking too regular), with a large x-height and unbracketed serifs — features that make it suitable for display purposes rather than for large bodies of text. Distinguishing features of Rockwell are the serif at the apex of the uppercase A and the circular O of the light and regular weights.
We are fairly techno savvy in our household. As computer-literate iUsers, we can, for example, select music through devices that are not plugged in to the speakers from which the sound emanates, or we can piggyback devices to expand functionality. However, a working knowledge of how to use the technology at our disposal doesn’t necessarily imply complete understanding of the science that goes into making them function. So imagine how thrilled I was to discover the explanation for how skype works! It’s nothing more than pigeon post and wires!
The NSW town of Walcha is quite a surprise. For a place with a population of around only 1600 it has a rich history: sheep farming, cedar, gold and slate mining for starters. In 1950 a Tiger Moth was the first aircraft to spread superphosphate in Australia. More recently Walcha Telecottage was established, which aids interaction between local communities with job training, education and internet services, and also produces the Apsley Advocate, a free and widely distributed weekly newsletter. Walcha has significant buildings, significant natural beauty, significant flora and fauna, notable sports people and artists, and a swag of OAM-awarded residents. And if that’s not enough, there are 41 pieces of open-air art around town! The sculptures are outstanding, and I was particularly taken with this figurative work, by Tom Deko, made from oil drums.
Hat, control, uparrow, chevron, shark-fin, fang, call it what you will: the caret is a wedge-shaped mark made on written or printed matter. Although the caret is used widely in ASCII and unicode, in publishing it is more commonly recognised as a proofreading mark, which is where it has its origin. In Latin, caret means ‘it lacks’, so the name describes its function as the proofreading mark that indicates the place where something — a punctuation mark, a word, a phrase — should be inserted. The mark to be inserted is generally placed within the caret and it is written below the line of text for a line-level punctuation mark such as a comma, or above the line as an inverted caret for a character such as an apostrophe.
There’s a lot wrong here, and not just the letter spacing. It is one of the few — well, the only — bits of lettering with any sense of style I could find along a commercial strip that was so awful it was shameful, a street bursting with shops — ugly, noisy, smelly, crass — that have sprouted too quickly and competitively with little thought for anything other than the tourist dollar. This, in an area that should know better. But I was lucky to find a spot across the street where I could obtain an unimpeded view of this building name. I like the B and R, and the S that isn’t quite straight, that perfect A, and the acute angle of the apostrophe. And the fact that they didn’t pull it down.
Of late there are more smart boards and tablets than chalk and blackboards. Only yesterday I saw an iPad on the counter at the butcher where once upon a time there might have been a hand-scrawled specials board. I am heartened by this handwritten blackboard because the very impermanence of the chalk implies that the information changes, reassuring me that the catch is more likely to be a daily one. Today, though, my friends and I are having prawns for lunch.
My Melbourne Cup picks came in first and third, so while my token flutter has barely netted me enough profit for a celebratory drink, let alone a night on the town, I am still chuffed about winning. I could perhaps celebrate with a rousing rendition of The Tenterfield Saddler, a song made famous in the 1980s by Peter Allen, who wrote the ballad about his grandfather George Woolnough. There have been five Tenterfield saddlers since 1870. George Woolnough was the third, and plied his trade from 1908 until his retirement in 1960. The current saddler, Trevor Gibson, works from the workshop that, apart from general repairs, is still in its original condition, complete with this gold-painted and weathered cedar shingle.
Tomorrow is the first Tuesday in November, which makes it Melbourne Cup Day, one of the most significant days in the Australian calendar. The Melbourne Cup, held at Flemington Racecourse, is a 3200 metre thoroughbred horse race. It’s a public holiday in metropolitan Melbourne, and around the country pretty much everyone stops to watch the race on tv, glass of champagne in one hand, betting slips in the other. One year I got my American friend involved. I sent him the form guide, he picked the horse, I placed the bet, and to my great astonishment the horse won! Kneipp’s Saddle and Harness Emporium, in Tenterfield, certainly won’t be supplying any gear this year. In the late 1800s Frederick Kneipp offered ‘a new improved saddle’, but all that’s left of the building, after it was destroyed by fire in 2011, is this burnt and blistered facade.
I am seriously uninspired this morning. I have design work to do, an artist’s book to fine tune before I go ahead with the edition, plus half a dozen coptic notebooks to stitch. It’s far more tempting to sit outside in the garden, catch a few rays and read a chapter of my library book. Perhaps I need coffee from the Wallabadah General Store.