Caroline Arhcer has long been interested in London’s Tart Cards – the little colourful cards advertising the services of London’s 'working' girls' which can be found in telephone boxes across the capital. But Tart Cards are simply the most recent manifestation of the centuries old habit of advertising for the metropolitan prostitute. And whether it is Renaissance Venice, Georgian London, belle époque Paris or fin de siècle New York — there is nothing quite so curious as a guide to the local harlots.
To the uninitiated, these clandestine Gentlemen’s Guides make the most dubious of all literary and typographic genres. But these rare and flimsy publications are revered by social historians and are also of interest to the printing historian. There is no more vivid way to evoke the shadowy back streets, raucous taverns and perfumed boudoirs of a vanished city than to pore over the yellowed pages of a Gentleman’s Guide.
Caroline Archer is Professor of Typography, Birmingham City University. She is Co-Director of the Centre for Printing History and Culture (a joint venture between Birmingham City University and the University of Birmingham). She runs the Typographic Hub, in the School of Visual Communication at Birmingham City University; the Hub works to promote the history, theory and practice of typographic design. Although she has a particular interest in the typographic history of the Midlands, she is concerned with printing of all eras, from all nationalities and in all its guises. She maintains an active publishing programme, and articles on all aspects of the history, theory and practice of typography, printing and the allied trades are frequently published on and off-line. Her publishing out-put includes 4 monographs and 8 co-authored titles.