Every child goes through an Encyclopedia stage. Where one realises that there is this large world, full of vague yet moving parts, and it has been around for far longer than the few years of awareness that a kid has. Mine begun with the family purchase of a 10 volume edition, of a non-Britannica brand. The first entry I looked up was coins, having started collecting them a few weeks before.
I have no recollection of these ever coming into my possession as a child, but merely that they have always been around. I'm sure they weren't part of the families. They weren't handed down. They feel like an Op Shop purchase. I can't imagine myself ever purchasing or requesting them, but I have a memory of looking through these two books as a child with fondness. Large gorillas. The making of tennis balls. Spiders. Television. The fastest land animal.
I wonder if kids these days still have the encyclopedia stage. Or, do they gradually soak up information in tiny morsels through the web. Do they get given the keys to wikipedia and left to fend for themselves, bouncing between that, youtube, and google and looking up anything they want.
The transition away from books as a source of knowledge and history - getting one big info dump of knowledge possibilities flipping from page to page - towards the internet where a constant trickle of novelty and information is the norm. The constant newness of all that information. It never gets old; the information on the web (almost) never ages, it always updates to the newest data point. Knowledge used to come on aged paper slabs; the ideas within already slightly out of date by the time it is read. The authority of that information contained within the medium. How quickly that authority has faded.
Either way, I'm not here to wander through the particularities of a shift from the book to the network. No, we're here to look at words and images. Gorgeous examples of the heroic age of australian letterforms before it got washed away by The New International Style. It's this spirit of post war enthusiasm that comes through the most.
While there may be analogs and similarities to the styles of other nations and cultures, I like these best. Either because of a sense of national pride, or because of the rarity of these forms. It's just a shame these weren't strong enough to further reflect the national flavour.
I blame Wimble. If he hadn't have been such a good business man, taking well known typefaces and giving them localised names we might have had a few Australian type foundries 50 years ago that were interested in a local typographic style. But considering the fondness for styles from the various Anglo motherlands I doubt it would have worked. There is a great history of Australian lettering, but not Australian type design. Anything hand made, hand drawn is quickly able to evoke a warm past. Such as these.