Dan X. Solo, Type Revivalist, Dies

You all must know of Dan X. Solo, even if you don’t actually know him. His books, filled with antique typographic wonders from the Victorian age and beyond, are both numerous and bountiful. Dan died about a week ago in an Oakland, California, hospital — a few months after being diagnosed with cancer.

The deep throated, basso voiced Solo was a radio announcer, printer’s devil and proprietor of Solo Type in Oakland. He possessed an enviable collection of wood and metal type, and was generous to a fault when it came to spreading his riches to admirers and users of vintage types.

In 1998 I interviewed Solo for my book Design Dialogues, which I reproduce here:

For more information on Dan X. Solo go here for his My Font showings. And here for a list of his Dover copyright free type collections.

14 thoughts on “Dan X. Solo, Type Revivalist, Dies

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  2. ScottSidorsky

    This is such sad news for me to discover — years later. I ordered type from Dan “back in the day” 1980’s. Solotype was an incredible resource. I still have the “faces” catalog.

  3. Paul Shaw

    you should look at the exhibition catalogue Blackletter: Type and National Identity written by Peter Bain and myself. It was published by the American Printing History Association, 1998. It is out of print but libraries should have copies. 

  4. roy

    Hello, My name is Roy, and Im a graphic design student leaving in Israel.
    I was hoping you could help me with something. 
    i saw that you own the font “Behrens Schrift” by Peter beherns.
    im need to find information about the history and design ideas behind this font, and because it was designed century ago, I cant find much about it.
    I was hoping you could help me, by links or whatever you have, finding information about this font
    thank you!

  5. Gary Barsch

    Dan Solo was truly a friend. Nancy & I had many visits in Oakland with Dan and he even visited by shop in Santa Ana in the 1980s. He assisted me in acquiring the Altergraph. Upon the closing of my shop, Dan acquired all of the photo-type fonts & most of the equipment. Upon the closing of American Type Founders, Dan attended that final dispersal of fonts. Later he gave a lecture at the California State University at San Luis Obispo, the title “The Day Gutenberg Died”. I was not able to attend the lecture, but would surely appreciate a copy of the notes of that lecture; the notes must be a real “gem”.
    Dan will be missed by all who really appreciate type, typography & lettering. His wit and humor will continue to remain and remind.
    Sincerely, Gary Barsch.

  6. Robert Donona

    Robert Donona: I got the news on Sunday July 22, 2012 avout the passing of Mr. Dan X. Solo from retired typesetter Mr. Garry Barsch. It was back in 1989, I found out about Mr. Dan X. Solo of Solotype through one of his Dover alphabet books so I wrote to him and he sent me a catalog entitled the Solotype Cheap Catalog of Hard-to-Find Headline Types and when I recieved it, I was amazied at a lot of the rtypefaces he as in it, sincethen over the yeard until he reitred from Solotype, once or twice a month I would call Solotype and we would talk about type especialy nineteenth century type, in 1991 he told about another great book entitled A Typographical Journey Through The Inland Printer: From 1884 to 1900 by Maurice Annenberg, and so I order this one right after he told me about it, in 1992 he also sent yet anothe catalog entitled The Solotype Catalogue od 4,147 Display Types.
    What will become of the Solotype Collection in His Archive? Mr. Dan X. Solo will be missed. Yours truly, Robert

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  8. Dave

    I’m wondering if anyone can help me with something related to Dan.  I had the pleasure of knowing Dan for 30+ years as my mother married him in 1982.  In the process of cleaning out his files/records (along with his 2 sons), we have come across a number of vintage materials that I’m sure would have value to collectors or others interested in typography.  Can anyone recommend how we could go about determining what is valuable/of interest and what is not?  Please let me know via post, or the moderator has my email.  Thanks.

  9. Anna

    I have just learned that Dan Solo died recently. I hadn’t heard from him in a long time, and I was worried. He and his wife travelled a lot in recent years. Harking back to his days in show biz–his mother was a theatrical mind-reading performer:
    they presented a similar act for cruise-ship passengers. He didn’t have computer equipment [nor skills] to stay in touch when away from home, so it was not unusual that for months went by between eMails or phone calls… Like so many who never met actually him, Dan was my “mentor.”  He was an early friend of the textbook series I’m working on, The Type Heritage Project. In the process, I launched a website last summer.  One of my most important goals is connecting revival font developers who can collaborate on archiving for posterity type treasures like the ones he loved. This is important work! If you or someone you know is in a position to join this project, please visit my webpage on “Cool Undigitized Fonts”:
    Thanks for your interest, Anna

  10. Marty Blake

    Dan Solo helped me choose the perfect typefaces for a number of jobs back in the 1980s and early 90s. I began my design career on the night shift as a Phototypositor operator, and Dan and I would commmiserate about all the lost fonts and lost skills, knowing that some fonts would never survive the transition to digital. He mourned the fact that no one would be interested in taking over his vast collection of Typositor reels. His Dover Books were a great resource. But I will remember him best for lovely discussions about typefaces and for finding me the perfect “W” for a logo.

  11. PeteDG

    Thanks for this tribute to a true type hero..I’d always assumed Dan X Solo was a pseudonym, upon learning he was a “real guy” – well, I owe him a debt of gratitude. For many of us designing pre-computers, Solo’s Dover books were an invaluable resource. Letraset Sheets could only take you so far – and many compelling display types were set sizing Solo’s sets with a photocopier or stat cam and waxing them into designs.. RIP Mr Solo