Codex 99 is either an occasionally updated weblog or incrementally expanded website about the history of the visual arts and graphic design.

Exactly what the “visual arts” are is a good question and mostly follows the Stewartian argument of “I’ll know it when I see it.” 1 So far this has meant old photos, National Geographic, color theory, long-dead stage actresses, things Victorians liked, Swiss cartographic relief, the history of the Greek and Latin alphabets, physicians in Nazi Germany, the Bible or parts thereof, French book illustration, art nouveau, mid-century pin-ups, board and card games, Charley Harper, Bradford Washburn, and Ernest Hemingway. In other words – typical design blog stuff.

Individual posts are embellished with diagrams, drawings, illustrations, maps, and photographs. Wherever possible, these images are linked to much larger versions.

The site includes footnotes.2

The longer, more considered and researched posts are filed under Codex 99 and these posts are organized in the Archive. Shorter, more ephemeral posts are filed in the Annex.

Site updates – an ersatz RSS feed, if you will – are available via Twitter or Facebook.

Technical details about the site are discussed in the Colophon.

Correspondence is most gratefully received.

The site is licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license.3

1. The quote is from Justice Potter Stewart’s opinion on Jacobellis v. Ohio 378 U.S. 184 (1964): “...I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it...” The case involved Nico Jacobellis, manager of a motion picture theater in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, who was convicted on two counts of possessing and exhibiting an obscene film, The Lovers (Les Amants. Louis Malle, Dir. Nouvelles Éditions de Films, 1958), a violation of Ohio Revised Code (1963 Supp.), 2905.34. For the record, the US Supreme Court reversed the Ohio courts’ decision, with Justice Stewart concurring.

2. Noel Coward (who credits a more ribald version to John Barrymore) once complained “reading footnotes is like having to go downstairs and answer the door bell while you are upstairs making love.” Your humble narrator obviously disagrees with this, preferring instead to think of the footnote as going downstairs while making love only to find that hot Asian girl you barely know wants to not only join in but show you this interesting thing she learned while living in Bangkok.

For more see: Grafton, Anthony. The Footnote: A Curious History. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999 (WorldCat) or Zerby, Chuck. The Devil’s Details: A History of Footnotes. New York: Touchstone, 2003 (WorldCat).

3. N.B.: many of the images presented here may be licensed under different copyright arrangements – caveat utilitor.

8 May 2013 ‧ Administrativa