Blue Pencil no. 17—Just My Type—Part Two
p.71 “Carter then [after apprenticing at Enschedé] returned to London, and found there wasn’t much demand for skills rooted in the 1450s. So he began to paint signs, another archaic art. At the beginning of the 1960s he [Matthew Carter] went to New York… After a while he was offered a job at the Mergenthaler Linotype Company in Brooklyn….”
The implication here is that Carter moved to New York early in the 1960s, worked as a sign painter in the city for several years and then was hired as a type designer by Mergenthaler Linotype. The truth is that Carter worked as a letterer in London in the early 1960s, visited New York City but did not move across the Atlantic until 1965 when he was hired by Mergenthaler Linotype (to work on Snell Roundhand).
p. 72 “Septmber” should be “September.”
“Futura vs Verdana”
This is a fairly good account of the Ikea font controversy; the only thing missing is Matthew Carter’s wry perspective on the whole thing.
“The Hands of Unlettered Men”
This chapter is not as tiring a tour as “Capital Offence” but it ends just as oddly. It begins with Harry Carter, father of Matthew Carter and author of the seminal A View of Early Typography Up to About 1600 (1969), moves on to printing in Venice in the late 15th century, and concludes with William Caxton and Wynkyn de Worde. Garfield’s opening portrait of Harry Carter describes him as having been “particularly interested in the bountiful ﬁfteenth-century collision between, on the one hand, the burgeoning technological knowledge and abilities of typefounders and printers, and on the other, the clamouring demands from publishers and the reading public.” Garﬁeld’s ﬁnal words are, “He [De Worde] exploited the growing demand for cheaper publications, selling Latin grammar texts to schools while also printing novels, poetry, music and illustrated children’s books for his bookstand at St Paul’s. At the onset of the sixteenth century, his innovations were being imitated throughout Europe, the revolution in movable type delighting the common reader and disgusting the church just fifty years after Gutenberg.”
These beginning and ending comments suggest that De Worde embodied Harry Carter’s scholarly interests. And that it was De Worde who inspired a change in the types of books published in Europe in the 16th century. Both implications are wrong. In An Early View, Carter does not talk about the clamoring demands of publishers and the reading public, focusing instead on the expectations and desires of printers, punchcutters and their patrons, such as Maximilian I and Francis I. The book barely mentions De Worde, noting only which typefaces he used and nothing more about his career (see pgs. 53, 63–65). It is unlikely that De Worde’s innovations were being copied in Europe at the onset of the 16th century when they had yet to occur in England where he was based. His career began, after leaving William Caxton’s enploy, in 1496 and its turning point is said to have occurred in the years between 1509 and 1523. “The total number of books at present known to have been issued by Wynkyn de Worde in the sixteenth century is about six hundred and forty. Of these, more than two hundred were merely small school-books, about one hundred and fifty service books and religious treatises and the same number of poems and romances; the remainder consisting of chronicles, law-books, accounts of passing events and other miscellaneous books.” (The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21)). De Worde does not even appear in The Printing Press as an Agent of Change (1979) by Elizabeth Eisenstein.
p. 79 “…Nicolas Jenson, a Frenchman who had travelled to Mainz in 1458, where he had probably picked up Gutenberg’s techniques but rejected the more impenetrable elements of his Gothic output.”
Since Jenson was a Frenchman and French scribes and printers used textura, it seems unlikely that Jenson would have found Gutenberg’s type to be impenetrable. His rejection of Gothic types was due to his Venetian clientele’s tastes. Thus, he printed Humanist texts in roman type and religious ones in rotunda.
p. 80 footnote “It is widely believed that the inspiration [for the ﬁrst italic types] stemmed from the hand of Niccolo Niccolí, a contemporary Venetian [to Aldus Manutius and Francesco Griffo] who used a slanted style when he wished to write faster or express dynamism. However, punchcutters in Florence also subsequently placed a claim.”
Niccolo Niccolí (1363–1437) was not a contemporary of either Aldus (1449–1515) or Griffo (1450–1518); neither was he a Venetian. He was born and lived his life in Florence. His connection to italic type is very indirect as it is believed that his corsiva of the 1420s, derived from Carolingian minuscule, was the beginning of the script now known as italic. But his hand did not serve as a model for the italic type that Griffo, nearly 80 years later, cut for Aldus. The best speculation is that Griffo based the design on his own handwriting, though there are some who suggest he based it on the formata of Bartolomeo Sanvito.
p. 84 “Good type never dies, but there is one notable exception—Doves, the type that drowned.”
This sentence embodies a popular misconception. The loss of the Doves type is no different in practice—despite the jolly good story behind its demise—than the loss of type by Gutenberg, Jenson, Griffo, Fournier and others over the past 500 years. Very little survives of type in its physical state (punches, matrices, cast type). Instead, it is the visual state—as found in books and ephemera—that remains. And many Doves Press books exist today, making the Doves type just as alive as the type of Jenson, its model. Why no one has thought of reviving the Doves type is a mystery. It would be no harder than reviving the types of Griffo. [Ed. note: Ben Archer has informed me that Torbjörn Olssen did make a digital version of the Doves Press type in 2004.]
p. 84 “Doves Press [sic] was established at Hammersmith, west London, by the bookbinder Thomas Cobden-Sanderson.”
This account leaves out Emery Walker, Sanderson’s partner and the person who unknowingly spurred Sanderson to dump the Dove type into the Thames. Sanderson is usually called either Thomas James Cobden-Sanderson or T.J. Cobden-Sanderson and usually it is “the” Doves Press.
“The Ampersand’s Final Twist”
p. 90 “The ﬁnest ampersand [shown on a t-shirt, p. 93], cut by William Caslon, is still alive after almost three hundred years, and it has many impersonators but no equals.”
This statement is open to debate but ultimately it is a matter of personal opinion. I would offer up those of Trump Medieval, Zapf Renaissance Antiqua no. 2, Cataneo, Poetica Chancery III, or the alternate & in Big Caslon as worthy challengers.
p. 93 “For the ﬁrst real flight of fancy [among ampersands], we need to look to that revolutionary Frenchman, Claude Garamond….”
Garamond’s contemporary, Robert Granjon, was a greater innovator where ampersands are concerned. In some of his italics he had as many as four versions of the character. See especially his Fourth Great Primer Italic (1562).
p. 93 “The ﬁnest example [of the Caslon ampersand] available today is the version supplied by the International Typeface Corporation—the ITC 540 Caslon Italic.”
This is not the same typeface as on the t-shirt shown on the same page. Caslon 540 is not an ITC typeface. It was designed by American Type Founders. The ampersand in the italic font sold today by Monotype under the ITC name appears to be a version designed in the 1960s by Visual Graphics Corporation (VGC) and not the ATF original. The t-shirt appears to show the Adobe Caslon Semibold Italic ampersand. Neither were designed by William Caslon.
p. 93 “It’s no surprise to ﬁnd that Caslon himself began as a gunsmith, engraving rifles with fancy swirls and initials, and he maintained these flourishes on his ‘swash’ capitals….”
Caslon Swash Capitals are a 19th century invention. See James Mosley’s essay on alterations and additions to “Caslon” type.
p. 94 “Hearteningly, the Caslon business is still going strong, and still family run. It now offers such things as digital press feeders and FoilTouch supplies.”
I don’t know whether this is true or not. But I do know that the type business left the Caslon family decades ago. The last owner of the real Caslon type was the late Justin Howes (1963–2005).
p. 94 In his discussion of the uses of the ampersand, Garﬁeld notes Gill’s use of it to replace “and” in ordinary prose but he does not explain what Gill meant by asserting that the ampersand was “far too handy to be employed merely in business literature”. For Gill, as for Geoffrey Dowding (Finer Points in the Spacing and Arrangement of Type (1954)), the ampersand saved space in composition and thus made it possible to achieve a superior color to a page of type by reducing rivers and hyphenated words.
p. 94 “…the ugly Univers version [of the ampersand] looks as if it was drawn by committee.”
This proves that Garfield’s assessment of the beauty of ampersands is not to be trusted. Frutiger’s Univers ampersand—as originally designed, not as it exists in the current Adobe/Linotype version of the font—clearly reveals its origins in the Latin word “et”.
“Baskerville is Dead (Long Live Baskerville)”
Why “is” isn’t capitalized is beyond me.
p. 97 “Baskerville worked chiefly as a japanner… and as an engraver of headstones.”
Other than the stone he carved to advertise himself as a cutter of gravestones (and a writing master) there are only two known gravestones that Baskerville cut. See Josiah Benton (John Baskerville, p. 2). This does not suggest much of a career as a lettercutter.
p. 98 “But by the time Baskerville came around to designing the Q he may have been getting restless…” re: the tail that ends in a “great flourish”.
Garﬁeld fails to note the influence of the pointed pen on the swelling tail. Qs in the manner of the Baskerville Q can be found in the work of several British writing masters.
p. 100 “Sarah Baskerville ‘took no pleasure in such a life,’ [printing], he [Georg Lichtenberg] reported, and wanted rid of it.”
Why didn’t Garfield use this nugget of information to question the naming of Emigre’s Baskerville-inspired, Mrs. Eaves? Similarly, why not also question Emigre’s decision to name a font after Mr. Eaves, Sarah’s husband who “deserted her”? (See p. 166 in Fontbreak: Mrs Eaves & Mr Eaves.)
p. 101 “Baskerville often complained that they [his fonts] did not pay. He found that users would copy them rather than buy them.”
Why doesn’t Garﬁeld note the contradiction in the fact that Baskerville’s types were being widely copied at the time they were supposedly being reviled by his contemporaries. What is meant by “copied”? How close are Fry’s Baskerville by Isaac Moore (1768), the typeface Richard Austin cut for John Bell and the one cut by William Martin for William Bulmer? Baskerville never tried to sell his types on their own, but only as part of an attempt, beginning in 1765, to sell his entire printing works because it was costing him too much money (see pp. 50–51 in Benton). The posthumous sale to Beaumarchais was the culmination of these efforts.
p. 101 “…the Baskerville font has been in extensive and more or less continuous use for the past 260 years.”
Despite the use of the weasly “more or less” this is still a false statement. Baskerville’s types, as Garﬁeld himself relates, were sold to Pierre de Beaumarchais in 1779 and disappeared from use. Revivals of his designs were not made until the 1920s.
p. 102 “(Despite the emergence of Baskerville, and Franklin’s enthusiastic promotion of it when he returned to the United States, the ﬁrst mass-produced printing of the Declaration of Independence of 1776 was printed in Caslon.)
There was no United States in Baskerville’s lifetime. Franklin may have promoted the quality of Baskerville’s types but not with the intent of encouraging Colonial printers to buy them since they were not for sale. (A quick search of the private correspondence of Benjamin Franklin printed in 1817–1818 revealed no letters in which Franklin was enthusiastically promoting Baskerville in the Colonies, only the famous letter to Baskerville himself about tricking a gentleman who had a prejudice against Baskerville’s types.) Thus it is not surprising that they were not used to print The Declaration of Independence.
p. 104 “The names Baskerville assigned to his types referred to their sizes [e.g. Great Primer, Double Pica, etc.]”
This was not unique to Baskerville but a common practice that continued well into the 19th century. Other than making sport of the name—likening them to coffee orders—Garﬁeld makes no attempt to explain to the reader what they mean and where they come from. Fun over facts.
Fontbreak: Mrs Eaves & Mr Eaves
See my comment above about Garﬁeld’s missed opportunity to question the names of these typefaces. This short essay is more about tattoos unfortunately than about the design of either font, other than a reference to the “quill-tailed Q, strident R, and the cat-tailed lower bowl of its g”.
p. 110 the image of Edward Johnston’s original drawing for Railway Sans is, like most pictures in the book, too pale (and small) to properly appreciate the design or to easily read the notations.
p. 114 “The most beautiful [of the letters in Railway Sans] was the i, on which Johnston placed a diamond-shaped dot that still brings a smile today.”
Why not explain where the diamond-shaped dot comes from since it is so unusual? The answer is from Johnston’s experiences with a broad-edged pen.
p. 118 shows the g from both the original Johnston Underground and Eiichi Kono’s redesign side by side, but with no comment. The redesigned g is clearly inferior and something should have been said about how it fails to have the Johnston spirit. Garﬁeld does not mention the other versions of Johnston’s Railway Sans that have been done since Kono: ITC Johnston by Dave Farey (1999) and P22 Johnston Underground (1997).
p. 121 “A more complete transformation [of the Paris Métro signage] occurred in the mid-1990s, when Jean François Porchez introduced his font family Parisine, a modern and flexible combination of upper and lower case that remains the standard lettering today.”
Garﬁeld fails to describe Parisine sufﬁciently or to explain why it replaced Frutiger’s 1970s Alphabet Métro. There is more to the story than a switch from all caps to upper- and lowercase. For those interested in what it is see Typofonderie.com.
pp. 121–122 “As it developed, the [New York City] subway acquired an alluring mess of enamel signs and mosaic tiles in a bewildering range of type—usually a form of Franklin Gothic or Bookman, sometimes with a touch of art deco, occasionally with old-style roman serifs.”
There is no Franklin Gothic in the signage in the New York City subway system, though it does appear on one common poster in the subway cars themselves. The only mosaics or signs in Bookman in the system are two stations renovated in the 1990s. The pre-Unimark signs are not type at all but handlettering.
p. 122 “It was 1967 before the New York subway authorities agreed [to] a grand scheme for establishing uniform station signage.”
The year was 1966.
p. 122 the image caption “Vignelli Associates 1966 designs for the New York City Transit Authority” should read “Unimark International 1966 designs for the New York City Transit Authority”
“What is it about the Swiss?”
p. 124 “You could sit in your Bertoia Diamond chair (Italy, 1952) and read about a forthcoming concept called IKEA (Sweden, 1958), while all around you buildings began to get squarer and more functional.”
Harry Bertoia designed the Diamond Chair for Knoll, an American furniture manufacturer. It was made in Italy originally.
pp. 126–127 For the true story of Cyrus Highsmith’s day without Helvetica see my Imprint review.
pp. 127–128 Michael Bierut’s tale of Amalgamated Widget is one of the better moments in Helvetica: The Movie, but my favorite remains Paula Scher’s assertion that Helvetica caused the Vietnam War.
p. 130 “The better observation is that it [Helvetica] is ubiquitous because it fulﬁlls so many demands for modern type.”
The even better question, though, is why no other typeface is seen as being capable of fulﬁlling so many demands for modern type. What are these demands? Helvetica is not, contrary to the claims of its adherents, the most legible typeface. It is not the most readable. It is not the most versatile. It does not have the largest type family. There is nothing about it, other than its widespread and inexpensive availability, that sets it apart from rivals such as Akzidenz Grotesk, Univers and, more recently, Frutiger, Myriad and Meta. Garﬁeld (p. 131) describes many of its letters in detail but does not explain why their features make it superior. Some, like the “straight horizontal endings” on c, e, and s are a primary reason why it is not the most legible typeface.
p. 131 footnote on Mike Parker’s role in Helvetica’s popularity is an excellent point. It should have been part of the main text. Mike has said that he originally wanted to manufacture Univers for Mergenthaler Linotype but that Frutiger refused to alter the slope of its italic in order to make it function as a duplexed type. That was a deal breaker. Univers did not become a Linotype face until ﬁlm made such problems irrelevant.
p. 132 “In the 1980s, Linotype rationalized all the disparate Helvetica faces (the old metal types, the short-lived phototypsetting fonts and the digital versions) into one large new family, which it called Helvetica Neue.”
The new type was and is called Neue Helvetica. (Helvetica Neue is simply a menu designation.) It was released in 1983.
p. 134 “Called upon to explain the name, its Swiss-born designer Adrian Frutiger explained that it was almost called Galaxy and then Universal. But Univers was the perfect aggrandizing title for a font designed to replace the fading Futura as the ultimate symbol of a new Europe….”
Futura was not fading. It was extremely popular in the United States after the war. But it was a German face and Deberny & Peignot, which sold it in France under the name Europe, wanted to replace it with one of their own—in the same way that Haas wanted to supplant the German Azkidenz Grotesk with a new grotesque. As a name Univers was chosen to suggest something greater than Europe. The name, as opposed to Galaxy, tapped into the Modernist notion of a universal typeface.
p. 135 “…the latter [Ondine] a thick-nibbed calligraphic font with Arabic overtones…”
Ondine was inspired by 15th c. French and Flemish bâtarde scripts.
p. 136 “…earlier sans serifs [before Helvetica and Univers] had diagonal cuts [on C and S]…”
This is not entirely true. There are examples of grotesques and gothics before 1957 with horizontal stroke endings on curved letters. In McGrew alone one can find Alternate Gothic No. 1 (Morris Fuller Benton, ATF, 1903), Medium Gothic No. 7 (Hansen, 1903), Charter Oak (Keystone, 1899), Inland Gothic No. 6 (Inland, 1895), Gothic No. 544 (MacKellar, Smiths & Jordan, 1889 or earlier), Gothic Condensed No. 529 (19th c.), Medium Condensed Gothic (Ludlow, before 1939), Headline Gothic (Morris Fuller Benton, ATF, 1936), Mid-Gothic No. 2 (Nicholas J. Werner, Central Type Foundry, before 1892), Modern Gothic (Barnhart Brothers & Spindler, c.1897), Poster (Sol Hess, Lanston Monotype, n.d.), Railroad Gothic (ATF, pre-1912), Times Gothic (ATF, early 20th c.) and Tourist Gothic (Sol Hess, Lanston Monotype, 1928). Although most of these faces were still available in 1957, they were not widely used. (American Metal Typefaces of the Twentieth Century by Mac McGrew, 1993 second, revised edition.)
p. 136 “The photo [p. 137 of Univers being tested by Frutiger, Ladislas Mandel and Lucette Girard—the latter two are not identiﬁed in the caption] marks the point when the design of type moved from something performed primarily with the eye through the hand, to something that resulted from science… Men in labcoats [sic] and clipboards were now deﬁning our alphabet….”
This claim can be made for the Romain du Roi (1702–1745) as well as for Century Schoolbook (Morris Fuller Benton, ATF, 1918–1921). The latter was developed on the basis of studies of eyesight and reading factors while the only “science” behind Univers was Frutiger’s own unerring eye and his staff’s white lab coats. By the way, wearing lab coats was common in European design studios, as a means of protecting suits from spilled ink and other hazards. See the Futura type specimen illustrated on p. 194 as an example.
p. 137 “…its availability [Univers’] extending far beyond Lumitype to the traditional hot-metal casting of Monotype and Linotype machines, an expansion requiring the carving of 35,000 individual punches.”
Univers was never available on hot-metal Linotype machines. It became a Linotype face once Linotype took over Deberny & Peignot in 1972.
p. 137 “…the whole family spanning a vast range of twenty-one weights…”
The Univers family was composed, originally, of 21 weights and widths. Garﬁeld doesn’t note how revolutionary this large, programmed family was nor does he mention its unique numbering system. The latter was one reason it had a scientific air about it.
p. 139 “And the reason that Frutiger is better than Adrian Frutiger’s previous exceptional sans serif, Univers? Because Univers, although a milestone in font design, can be a little rigid and strict: a Univers lower-case e, for example, is almost a circle with a cut in it, both precise and scary. Whereas Frutiger is perfect.”
I am a big admirer of Frutiger (the typeface). It is what I use to type my articles. But Garﬁeld misunderstands the differences between it and Univers. Both fonts are perfect. But Univers has horizontal stroke endings on its curved letters while Frutiger has vertical ones. That simple change makes Frutiger a much more legible and readable face. Its characters are easier to decipher and the open counters of c, e, and s lead the eye horizontally along the line. In Univers the emphasis of the strokes is vertical leading to a beautiful pattern but not making for a flowing reading experience.
p. 141 “It [Frutiger] has evolved into a large family, with a serif version and many weights and italics, and Frutiger Stones offering thick playful letters within an irregular pebble shape just begging to be made into fuzzy sweets.”
Garﬁeld has mixed up Frutiger the typeface with Frutiger the brand. This is probably the fault of Linotype. But Frutiger Serif is not a true member of the Frutiger family and neither is Frutiger Stones. Frutiger serif is an updated and renamed Méridien, a serif face Frutiger designed prior to Univers. Frutiger Stones is a whimsical typeface based on Frutiger’s fascination with the striated patterns found on river pebbles. Both typefaces were named Frutiger to capitalize on his fame.
p. 142 “The United States has so far resisted its [Frutiger’s] charms, hanging on to Helvetica, but most of Europe has adopted it [for airport signage].”
This is not true. In my experience, Frutiger is used at JFK Airport in New York, Newark International Airport, and Sea-Tac (Seattle/Tacoma) Airport as well as by Amtrak and the 34th Street Partnership (for the street signage in midtown New York City). I suspect there are other examples of it used as signage in the United States.
p. 147 “In Britain and America, Akzidenz Grotesk was usually called Standard, a suitable name for something with such little Ipersonality. It was to become a key inspiration for both Univers and Helvetica.…”
Akzidenz Grotesk was always called Standard in England and America before the 1980s because that is the name under which it was sold by Amsterdam Continental, its importer. The name was meant to indicate that the face was the first one that should be considered for a job, that all others should be measured against it. Whether Akzidenz Grotesk has little or much personality is a matter of opinion, but most of those who prefer it to either Helvetica or Univers usually cite its greater sense of personality. It was an inspiration for Helvetica but not for Univers.
p. 148 “It [Akzidenz Grotesk] is one of the most signiﬁcant faces without the name of a recognized designer attached, seemingly being designed by committee at the Berthold foundry, before being modernized and enlarged in the 1950s by Gunter Gerhard Lange.”
Akzidenz Grotesk as a family is a collection of grotesques that Berthold acquired from different sources and that were given a common name in 1908. The regular weight was originally issued by Ferdinand Theinhardt Schriftgiesserei as Royal Grotesk in 1880. Theinhardt himself is believed to be its designer. Lange’s extension of the family lasted from 1956 to 1973.
Garﬁeld tells the story of Transport’s design well.
p. 149 “…since the Romans scratched Londinium in soft stone pillars”
p. 152 See my comments in the Imprint review on the contest between Transport and MoT Serif. The latter lost despite being found to be more legible!
pp. 156–157 Garﬁeld’s discussion of Clearview mentions Janette Sadik-Khan, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation, but neither James Montalbano, the font’s designer, nor Don Meeker, the signage designer who conceived it, tested it and has continually promoted its usage.
p. 158 “Most of us are type designers from birth. We begin scribbling as toddlers, the most freedom we will ever have. Then we conform to a style, we raise the pen above and below the dotted line.”
Garﬁeld often conflates type design and typography in JMT. Here he conflates writing and type design. They are not the same thing. We are not type designers from birth.
In this chapter Garﬁeld flits from a discussion of Tom Gourdie, a Scottish advocate of chancery italic as the hand for ordinary penmanship, to the John Bull Printing Outﬁt to Dymo labels to Letraset to the IBM Selectric Typewriter and its golfball. Yet this is a much more coherent chapter than “Capital Offence”.
p. 163 “IBM had twenty different golfball typefaces for sale, most of them sober and undramatic, but different enough to usher in the concept of corporate branding for even the smallest of businesses.”
Garﬁeld mentions Prestige Pica, Orator, Delegate and Courier 12 (though its designer, Howard Kettler, goes unnoted) but misses the fact that IBM commissioned Adrian Frutiger and Stanley Morison to adapt Univers and Times New Roman respectively for the IBM Selectric Composer, the successor to the Selectric Typewriter. The latter was called Press Roman.
“What the Font?”
p. 173 “For the most recent edition [of The Encyclopaedia of Typefaces, 2008], marking its 55th anniversary, only W Pincus Jaspert was around to add new faces to the collection, and in his notes seems to be getting flummoxed by the task of cataloguing 2,000 fonts. ‘Ceska Uncials on Page 43 and Unciala on Page 229 are the same,’ he apologizes; ‘Della Robbia on Page 65 was modelled on Florentine not Roman capitals. Monastic on Page 158 is really Erasmus Initials.’”
Jaspert is not flummoxed. His “Notes on the Fifth Edition” (p. vi) are simply an attempt to correct the mistakes of the previous editions. This is, or used to be, a standard publishing procedure. It is a reminder that The Encyclopaedia of Typefaces is not, and has never been, infallible. For instance, Jaspert’s list of corrections is itself flawed. He says, “On page 159 Monsoon is not shown; instead it is Kontakt, which is thus duplicated on page 130.” In fact, the duplication is of Kompakt by Hermann Zapf not Kontakt and its original appearance is on pages 130–131. This 5th edition of the book was a waste of time since it was neither properly corrected nor updated to reflect the enormous outpouring of typefaces since 1974. (By the way, Jaspert does not capitalize “Page” as Garﬁeld indicates in the quotation.)
Garﬁeld devotes this chapter to an attempt to identify the g on the cover of the 5th edition of The Encyclopedia of Typefaces—it is Adobe Caslon—but never explains how the mystery is solved. He bumbles through Rookledge’s Classic International Typeﬁnder and the WhatTheFont feature on the MyFonts website with no luck before ﬁnally ﬁnding someone on a dedicated type forum who knows the answer. But how did that person solve the riddle? Garﬁeld writes about the ear, the link, and the bowls of the g but does not tell us which of these features helped nail Adobe Caslon as the answer to his question. Why did Rookledge and WhatTheFont fail?
“Can a Font be German, or Jewish?”
The capitalization or lack of capitalization is very idiosyncratic in JMT’s chapter titles. Some seem to be capitalized as if they are book titles, others as if they are text sentences and then some, like this one make no sense at all. Likewise, why the comma?
This chapter deals with a serious question, but it does not engage it in any serious way.
pp. 172 and 180 “The Encyclopaedia of Type Faces” should be “The Encyclopaedia of Typefaces”. The spelling changed for the 5th edition.
p. 182 Erik Spiekermann was not the ﬁrst to use the term typomania or to describe himself as a typomaniac. See Typomania: Selected Essays on Typesetting and Related Subjects (1993) by Lawrence Wallis. By the way, the cover of Wallis’s book similar to that of the 5th edition of The Encyclopaedia of Typefaces. It too has an enlarged g, but this time it is Arrighi (in metal).
p. 187 the typeface used to represent the word “cursiva” is a rotunda not a cursiva.
p. 187 “The heaviest, blackest blackletter type held fast to the work of courtly scribes: the elaborate swirling capital waves of ink with their internal crossbars, better suited to iron gates than paper, and the unforgiving jagged lower-case, devoid both of curves and signs of humanity, the reading of which is akin to sticking needles in one’s eyes.”
I assume this awful description is of Textura typefaces, though Garﬁeld does not explicitly say so. How can he say (p. 53) that “Heavy blackletter type was once considered more readable than a softer, less formal script, but merely through ubiquity.” and then liken reading such types to “sticking needles in one’s eyes.”? Contrary to his views, there is plenty of humanity in Textura scripts and types. See Wilhelm Klingsporschrift and Jessenschrift by Rudolf Koch or Goudy Text. Anyway, it was not the heaviest blackletter types, the Texturas, which lasted the longest but Fraktur, the lightest and least regularized of them. Fraktur, especially in its capitals, is full of curves and not angular at all.
p. 189 “The use of Fraktur (a slightly less flamboyant gothic lettering than Schwabacher) continued in Germany well into the twentieth century….”
This is backwards. Fraktur is the most flamboyant of all blackletters. Schwabacher is restrained and quite dull. It lacks the decorative elements often found in Textura, Rotunda and Fraktur.
p. 190 “…the Nazis evolved their own more brutish, angular and heroic Fraktur before the war; nicknamed ‘the jackboot gothic’, it was something that went typographically well with the swastika.”
The Nazis did not create “jackboot gothic” (schaftstielgrotesk) typefaces. (The term, probably coined by Hans Peter Willberg, is of postwar origin.) They are not Frakturs but Texturas. (Garﬁeld, like many others, confuses two different German uses of the term Fraktur: 1. as a term for all blackletter styles (including Textura and Rotunda) and 2. as a speciﬁcally Baroque form of blackletter developed in Germany in the early 16th century.) These typefaces—principally Element, Deutschland, Tannenberg and National—were attempts to modernize Textura and bring it in line with the simpliﬁcation occurring in antiqua (roman) types, to ﬁnd a blackletter equivalent of the geometric sans serifs that had become popular at the end of the 1920s. Element was even marketed by Bauer as a companion to Futura. Nazi propaganda, principally posters, did use schaftstiefelgrotesk style lettering for several years (prior to 1937 roughly), but the typefaces were rarely used. Instead, the Nazis used Unger Fraktur and other 18th c. style frakturs, Wallau, Jessenschrift, and Weiss Gotisch. Schaftstiefelgrotesks were not used on government documents or in Illustrierter Beobachter, the Nazi Party’s weekly illustrated magazine. See The German Propaganda Archive for examples of Nazi propaganda. Futura was used quite often by the Nazis, most notably for much material associated with the 1936 Berlin Olympics but also the Hitler youth training magazine Die Kameradschaft. (By the way, many of the covers of this magazine [they are all signed Salaw] are amazingly modern in design.)
p. 191 Erik Spiekermann is quoted by Garﬁeld as saying that there was a shortage of blackletter type in the occupied countries and that was the main reason that the Nazis shifted from fraktur to antiqua during the war. This is something which Peter Bain and I did not consider when we did our Blackletter and National Identity exhibition (1998). It is probably the single best insight in JMT.
p. 191 “And there was a further advantage [to the Bormann decree of 1941 declaring that roman should replace blackletter]: the roman [sic]-heroic architecture of Albert Speer could now employ Trajan-style inscriptions above their columns.”
Speer had always preferred Roman letters to blackletter. The decree would have had no impact on his architecture. Classical Roman capitals were already appearing in Nazi propaganda as early as 1937.
p. 192 “His [Paul Renner’s] early type designs would become increasingly influential, although what he described as his ‘inner emigration’ in Germany after the war resulted in little new work.”
Renner’s “inner emigration” occurred during the Nazi years not after World War II. (See Paul Renner: The Art of Typography by Christopher Burke, p. 151.) The fact that he had little work after the war may be explained by at least two things: the country was in economic ruins and Renner himself was in his 70s.
p. 192 The loss of a national type identity that Garﬁeld laments began in the 1920s with the modernist push for a universal type not in the post-World War II era or recently. He makes no mention of Bayer, Tschichold et al. It seems odd to end a chapter largely about type under the Nazis with Matthew Carter’s observations on the distinctive typefaces of Roger Excoffon.
p. 193 “Renner reported that as early as 1925, much of the civic appearance of Frankfurt am Main was already set in Futura by order of the city’s planning office.”
How could this be if Futura was not released until 1927?
p. 195 image of Apollo 11 plaque on the moon with the caption: “The signatures may be hard for extraterrestials to read but they’ll have no problem with Futura.”
How do we know that aliens will even be able to read English let alone roman letterforms of any kind? This is a stupid statement. (By the way, if Helvetica was so popular in the 1960s then why wasn’t it chosen for this important plaque?)
p. 195 “The font [Futura] has proved resilient. Volkswagen, with its socialist marketing ideals, still uses Futura in its advertising….”
Doyle Dane Bernbach’s famous VW advertising campaigns between 1959 and 1972 (“Think Small” 1959 is the best known of them), the beginning of the automaker’s association with Futura, goes unmentioned by Garﬁeld. DDB wanted to rid the Volkswagen (born as the Nazi’s “people’s car” or KdF-Wagen (“Strength through Joy” car) of its Nazi taint. They thought that Futura, a typeface associated with modernism—even though the Nazis used it—would help achieve that goal. I assume that Garﬁeld’s reference to the company’s “socialist marketing ideals” does not refer to its 1930s origins, but given his tendency to jump around and conflate things it may.
p. 196 “The New York Times still uses Times Roman and Bookman, and an Old English blackletter for its masthead.”
The masthead was handlettered by Ed Benguiat. “The” should have been italicized as part of the newspaper’s name.
p. 196 Garfield does not say in what year Binny & Ronaldson started their business, only that it was in the 1790s. For the record it was 1796.
p. 197 “Binny & Ronaldson’s best known font is Monticello.”
Binny & Ronaldson did not design Monticello. It was designed by C.H. Griffith of Mergenthaler Linotype in 1946 for P.J. Conkwright of Princeton University Press for use in their multi-volume edition of The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. The type was based on Binny & Ronaldson’s Roman No. 1 (1796). Garﬁeld gets some of this right when he later says that Binny & Ronaldson’s type was renamed Oxford and then Monticello in the 1940s, but he misses the fact that it was never named Monticello by them and that when it did acquire that name it was a redesign and not the same typeface. This tendency to get things almost right, but ultimately wrong characterizes much of JMT. Garﬁeld seems to think that close enough is good enough.
p. 197 “Towards the end of the nineteenth century, Binny & Ronaldson became a cornerstone of the American Type Founders Company (ATF)….”
Binny & Ronaldson was purchased by Lawrence Johnson and George F. Smith in 1833. The Johnston Type Foundry became MacKellar, Smiths & Jordan in 1867 and eventually MSJ became the principal foundry among the 23 that merged in 1892 to form American Type Founders. So, ATF can trace its ancestry back to Binny & Ronaldson, but Binny & Ronaldson did not become a part of ATF.
p. 198 Garﬁeld rightly notes Theodore Low De Vinne’s role in the popularity of Scotch Roman but leaves out the equally important one of Daniel Berkeley Updike. (He indents De Vinne’s quotation is indented, set in a smaller typeface and placed within quotation marks. This is redundant. Indented text does not require quotation marks.)
p. 199 “Designed in 1896 by Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue and Ingalls Kimball for a New York publisher, the Cheltenham Press….”
Cheltenham was designed by Goodhue for Kimball who was the proprietor of the Cheltenham Press which he established in 1897. Wikipedia says that the face was commissioned by Kimball from Goodhue in 1898, but no source is provided for the statement and it is not corroborated by McGrew, Lawson, Thompson (American Book Design and William Morris (1978)), or Cost. They all indicate that the exact date of its creation is foggy, though Cost says it was originally called Boston Old Style. (The Bentons, p. 202) McGrew says that trial cuttings of Cheltenham were made in 1899 and that the typeface was completed in 1902, patented in 1904. ATF issued the face in 1902 and Morris Fuller Benton designed Cheltenham Bold in 1904.
p. 200 “…in the 2003 redesign of the New York Times, it [Cheltenham] made its comeback, digitized by Matthew Carter…”
“The” should be italicized. Cheltenham never fell out of use in The New York Times. Carter simply created an improved digital version for modern use. See Newspaper Design for The Times by Lou Silverstein (1990), pp. 174–181 especially. The original ATF version of Cheltenham may have fallen out of favor by the end of the 1950s but in the 1970s and early 1980s ITC Cheltenham (Tony Stan, 1975) was one of the most popular typefaces in the United States. Garfield ignores it entirely. (He also makes no mention of Matthew Carter’s Miller despite its Scottish roots.)
p. 200 “Cheltenham’s principal replacements in the 1950s [as a popular display face] were far uglier—a selection of lavish script fonts that looked as if they were handwritten, either by a drunken man from the advertising agency, or by some extravagant Elizabethan.”
It is hard to rebut this ignorant statement since Garﬁeld does not name these ugly typefaces. But the idea that scripts replaced Cheltenham makes no sense given the wide disparity between the two in terms of weight and sensibility. Anyway, the popular American scripts of the 1950s were Dom Casual, Brush Script, Brody and Murray Hill. None look as if they were designed by a drunk or an Elizabethan. Whether they are uglier than Cheltenham is subjective. The typeface that seems to have taken over Cheltenham’s role was Craw Clarendon (Freeman Craw, ATF, 1955).
p. 201 “Goudy had a reputation for fast living (cars and girls), and he was one of those rare things—a proliﬁc type designer with a penchant for the jazz life.”
Goudy? Frederic Goudy was happily married to Bertha Sprinks from 1897 until her death in 1935. There is no suggestion that Goudy was a ladies’ man in any of the biographies about him. Bruckner simply says that, as old men, he and his friends sat on the steps of the New York Public Library, “indulging in their favorite pastime, girl watching.” (Frederic Goudy by D.J.R. Bruckner, p. 66). Goudy’s love of cars was a necessity. He and Bertha did cross-country speaking tours to promote his typefaces from the mid-1920s on. (Bruckner, p. 66). Goudy was not a Jazz Age Casanova.
p. 201 “His [Goudy’s] most famous type was Goudy Old Style [sic]—a ﬁnely drawn but rather vulnerable font, nodding to the Renaissance with fluid base lines, nervy flourishes and the most delicate serifs….”
Garﬁeld has no understanding or feel for typefaces. Goudy Oldstyle (the spelling it was given by ATF; Goudy Light Old Style was an earlier design for Lanston Monotype, 1908) was popular precisely because it was both elegant and sturdy. Its serifs were not delicate. They appear to us now to be that way because we are seeing a poor digital version rather than the original metal design. The face has no “nervy flourishes” unless one is talking about Goudy Cursive (ATF, 1916) which has some swash characters. See McGrew, pp. 160–167.
p. 202 “Why is inappropriate letterspacing so despicable? Because it looks ugly, and because anyone skilled in typography takes immeasurable offence at anything that insults their vision of beauty. Quite right too.”
Garﬁeld does not understand typography either. This quotation is the culmination of his commentary on Goudy’s infamous, and disputed, statement about the evils of letterspacing blackletter (or italic). I suspect Goudy was speaking of blackletter and not italic, but there are sound reasons for complaining about both and they have nothing to do with a beauty. In Germany blackletter was routinely letterspaced as a means of creating emphasis since blackletter types (with a few exceptions) do not have an equivalent to italic that roman types have. This successfully achieved the goal of highlighting some text, but it did so at the expense of an even color to the text page. Jan Tschichold railed against the practice for this very reason. Letterspacing textura (and italic) is also offensive because it disrupts the balance between letter strokes, counters and letter spaces. But this same complaint can be lodged against letterspacing lowercase roman, too. All letterspacing slows down reading and that is a greater sin than ugliness for anyone engaged in text typography.
Fontbreak: Moderns, Egyptians and Fat Faces
p. 205 “…to what have become known collectively as Didone faces…”
Garﬁeld should explain the term Didone. For the record, it was coined by Maximilien Vox from the names Didot and Bodoni as a descriptive name for neoclassical typefaces.
p. 205 “…the fonts of this time [the early 19th century]—marketed with non-nonsense English names like Thorowgood, Falstaff, Figgins Antique…”
None of these names existed in the early 19th century. Thorowgood is a fat face originally cut by Robert Thorne and ﬁrst shown in a specimen book from William Thorowgood, his successor. In the 20th century it was named after Thorowgood by Stephenson Blake. Nicolete Gray (Nineteeth Century Ornamented Typefaces, 1976, p. 17) shows a similar design from Thorowgood’s 1821 specimen called Five-line pica no. 5. The model for Stephenson Blake’s Thorowgood would have had a similar name originally. Falstaff was issued by Monotype c.1935. Figgins Antique is a digital design from Hand-in-Hand (2007). It is not a fat face however but an Egyptian or slab serif. Two of these names are “no-nonsense English” ones only because they are the names of Englishmen. The types of the early 19th century were marketed with names that were no-nonsense (and English) but dull: e.g. 10 lines pica, 13 lines pica, Eight lines no. 2, and Five lines pica shaded. These names, taken from Specimen of Printing Types by Vincent Figgins, Letter-Founder (1815) are all fat faces. (By the way, Garﬁeld does not bother to explain the origin of the names Fat Face and Egyptian.)
“Gotham is GO”
I have written about the use of Gotham politically for Imprint already. The one thing to point out here is that Garﬁeld is oblivious to any possible connection between the use of Gotham for the cornerstone of the Freedom Tower in 2004 and its adoption by the Obama campaign.
“Pirates and Clones”
p. 221 “Fonts such as Akzidenz Grotesk and Nimbus Sans Bold display similar attributes to Helvetica; one clone even calls itself Swiss. But the biggest transgressor, in terms of global impact, is Arial.”
The implication that Akzidenz Grotesk is a clone of Helvetica is perverse. Helvetica is a clone of Akzidenz Grotesk—at least as much as Arial is a clone of Helvetica.
p. 221 “Arial is the Helvetica lookalike favoured by—you can probably guess this—Microsoft.”
This is because Microsoft commissioned Arial from Monotype as a design that would be similar in appearance to Helvetica and have the same set-widths. Garﬁeld mentions this later on the page. Then he explains how different Arial, in appearance, actually is from Helvetica yet he insists that it is a clone since it has the same widths. (WTC Our Bodoni was designed with the same widths of Helvetica and no one would argue that it is a clone because of this.) In this chapter he never deﬁnes a clone or a pirated font or says if the two are identical. Garﬁeld says, “Arial is still regarded—and rightly so—as a cheat.” Why does Helvetica escape censure (despite the documented fact that it was based closely on Akzidenz Grotesk) but Arial invites it?
p. 223 LET as a typeface suffix stands for Letraset and should be dropped from typeface names or replaced with Letraset as a prefix. Thus, instead of PartyLET as Garﬁeld has it, there should be Letraset Party or just Party. The names of typefaces, as they are displayed in menus, is unreliable. Names are often optimized to show up in the highest or most logical place alphabetically. Thus, there is Helvetica Neue not Neue Helvetica since people expect to ﬁnd any version of Helvetica under H and not under N. Many of these sufﬁxes are present only to assert ownership rights or for branding purposes. They are not the actual name of the typeface. Thus, it should be Party and not even Letraset Party.
p. 224 ‘In the nineteenth century, with the invention of the electrotyping machine in New York, theft became a little easier. Punchcutting was bypassed as moulds could be made directly, but this was still a highly skilled process and hugely expensive if one wanted to produce a range of weights….”
Electrotyping was a process not a mechanical invention. From A Technical Dictionary of Printmaking by André Béguin: “Electrotyping is done in three distinct phases: A mould is made of the plate to be duplicated. This is a mechanical operation whereby a cast is made of plastics which are made to conduct electric currents. The plastic has to be metallized in order for it to become a conductor. A metallic substance is deposited into the mould by the electro-chemical process of electrolysis. The result is a metal shell* whose thickness is variable. The ﬁnal step in electrotyping is a mechanical operation, partially manual, which consists in detaching the shell from the mould or cast, reinforcing it, and readying it for use.” Electrotyping allowed typefounders to copy a single typeface at a time. The idea of creating a family of weights was possible only as long as the family of weights already existed. But in the 19th century the concept of a family of weights had not yet taken hold. The electrotype process was far cheaper than creating a typeface from scratch via punchcutting which is why it was so popular. For a good explanation of it see Electrotyping and Stereotyping by Harris B. Hatch and A.A. Stewart (1918) available from Google Books.
pp. 223–224 Garﬁeld talks about Hermann Zapf’s longtime ﬁght against piracy but he never mentions which of Zapf’s faces were heavily pirated. He identiﬁes Zapf as the designer of ITC Zapf Dingbats but Palatino and Optima never escape his lips (until he gets to his fontbreak about Optima).
p. 229 Garﬁeld begins a story about Segoe, created by Monotype and licensed to Microsoft, as an example of a clone or pirated version of Frutiger but doesn’t provide an ending. Segoe “caused widespread disquiet in design circles” he says. And then what?
This is one of the two Zapf faces that was heavily pirated in the 1960 and 1970s. Garﬁeld does not mention this fact.
p. 233 “Hermann Zapf will always be remembered for his dingbats. But the German designer is also responsible for some of the twentieth century’s most exacting typefaces, among them Palatino, Melior, Saphir and Zapﬁno…”
Saphir? This is not a major Zapf typeface. It is a decorative titling adjunct to Palatino and as such has been folded into the Palatino family in Nova Palatino. Aldus, another Palatino spin-off, is a more important design.
p. 233 “He [Zapf] worked as a cartographer in the war, and then established his reputation as a designer at the Stempel foundry in Frankfurt.”
Zapf began his career at D. Stempel AG in 1938, completing his ﬁrst typeface, Gilgengart, before the war began.
p. 233 “…it [Palatino] also had a loop on the capital P that wouldn’t join up…”
This is one aspect of Palatino that is not unique. Open bowls are common on oldstyle faces. The open bowl of Palatino R, however, is an unusual feature. Garﬁeld ignores it.
p. 234 “It [Optima] is a highly original piece of work, a hybrid between something respectfully Roman in stature and somethng modern and sans serif in form.”
Garﬁeld leaves out Optima’s roots in 15th c. Florentine sans serif inscriptional letters which explains why it is a hybrid. What is most innovative about Optima is the lowercase which has no precedent in inscriptional letters.
p. 234 “Optima was originally designed as a display font, but it is also highly legible as a text face….”
Zapf intended Optima as a display face when he began the design in 1950 but changed his mind in 1954 after talking to Monroe Wheeler of the Museum of Modern Art. When Optima was released in 1958 he saw it as a text face. See About Alphabets by Zapf 1960 p. 41: “…I changed my original notion of Optima as a display type more into one of a text type.” Thus the subtle swelling of the stems and other strokes were not meant to be seen. Garfield does not understand this: “…the only disadvantage of viewing it small is a loss of subtlety at the tip of each of its straight lines, which have both a slight swelling and a gentle indentation.” Part of Garﬁeld’s problem seems to be that he is looking only at digital versions of fonts.
“The Clamour from the Past”
This chapter about the Type Museum in London skirts the fact that it closed in 2006 and has not reopened. Its operation and status have been the subject of controversy, but none of that is noted by Garﬁeld. Some of that information can be found online.
p. 239 “The Linotype (1886) and Monotype (1897) systems of mechanical typesetting….”
The Monotype was improved in 1897, but it was invented in 1887. Garﬁeld needs to use consistent dates. Otherwise, he needs a different one for the Linotype which also underwent improvement over the years.
p. 240 “Linotype was faster to manipulate but harder and more wasteful to correct, and flourished primarily in large-scale newspaper composition.”
This is not true of the situation in the United States where newspapers of all sizes and job shops had Linotype machines.
p. 242 “But soon it would be Monotype setting the pace, not least after it hired Stanley Morison as typographical consultant…”
Monotype may have set the pace in England in type design but not in the United States or Germany. ATF preceded Monotype with a historical revival program beginning in 1910 with ATF Bodoni by Morris Fuller Benton. It was followed by Cloister Oldstyle (1914), Baskerville (1915), and ATF Garamond (1919), all before Morison joined Monotype in 1923.
p. 248 “The crediting of a font [in a book] is a disappearing feature these days….”
I don’t think this is the case. The crediting of typefaces in books, usually in a colophon (a word not uttered by Garﬁeld), has always been a rare thing. In the 1920s Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. popularized the practice in the United States and it continues to do so today. But the firm’s lead has not been followed by the majority of publishers. Garﬁeld’s conclusions need to be based on a broader survey of books, both chronologically and geographically.
p. 250 David Pearson: “Your choice [of a typeface for a book] may often come down to ‘Has it got a small caps italic?’ So few of them do. You don’t want to fudge that small caps italic or the whole thing is just shot to pieces.”
Garﬁeld is too uncritical of his sources. Pearson is right that small caps italic was extremely rare in metal typefaces. But that is no longer the case with digital type. FontShop alone offers 147 fonts that have this feature.
p. 250 “There is another rare feature that places his [Pearson’s] books among the remnants of a type museum—the setting of a catchword at the bottom of the right-hand page.… ‘It’s an embellishment,’ Pearson says, ‘but it shows care. It reafﬁrms the tradition of the book as a valuable and desirable object.’”
This is the last line of the chapter. Garﬁeld never questions Pearson’s claim, never asks what the purpose of a catchword is in the modern world of silent reading. He just buys the hype.
p. 251 “It [Sabon] is not the most beautiful type in the world…”
Many designers would disagree, especially if we are talking about the Stempel metal version.
p. 253 “The new typeface [Sabon] was issued jointly by Germany’s three main type foundries (Linotype, Monotype and Stempel)….”
Neither Linotype nor Monotype was a type foundry. They were composing machine manufacturers. After Stempel the major German foundry in the 1960s was H. Berthold AG.
p. 253 “Its [Sabon’s] popularity was perhaps best deﬁned by Tschichold himself in his treatise Die Neue Typographie.”
The title of the book is Die neue Typographie. But more importantly, why quote from this book—written in 1928 and written against typefaces such as Sabon—to explain the popularity of Sabon, other than to be perverse? Yes, Sabon has clarity but that alone is not a sufﬁcient reason for its popularity. It was no accident that the German printers insisted that Tschichold design a typeface in the vein of Garamond and Granjon. History, tradition, familiarity, warmth, serifs are aspects that surely play a role in Sabon’s popularity.
“Breaking the Rules”
p. 254 “But to what extent do rules stifle individuality and creativity? What happens to the minds of a million first-year art students when faced with the task of designing a great new typeface?”
I am unfamiliar with English art and design schools, but in the United States there are few, if any, type design courses for ﬁrst year students.
p. 254 “…the novice is hampered by the dead weight of history and the dead grey hand of the instruction manual.”
Type design has been a secretive activity for centuries. It was not until recently that books on the process of type design have been published, though none of them can rightly be termed a manual. Perhaps Garﬁeld is thinking of the “dead grey hand of the instruction manual” in relation to typography, an area where they do exist.
pp. 254–255 Paul Felton’s The Ten Commandments of Typography is a piffling book that Garﬁeld takes too seriously. And yet he does not give equal play to both the rules to be followed and the rules to be broken. He lists all ten of the former but mentions only no. 7 of the latter. Felton’s rules seem arbitrary, rather than the distilled product of accumulated wisdom (or of many “dead grey hand” instruction manuals). For instance, “3. Thou shalt employ no other type size than 8pt to 10pt for body copy.” is not a commandment found in any book that I can recall—and it goes against what Garﬁeld himself stated was the preferred measure (in “Legibility vs Readability”). Or, “4. Remember that a typeface that is not legible is not a typeface.” This is a commandment? Legibility does not deﬁne whether a group of letters are a typeface or not. But the oddest of all is “9. Thou shalt use flush-left, ragged-right type alignment.” This certainly is not the residue of typographic tradition! Garﬁeld would have been better off scrutinizing Felton’s rules and anti-rules than just reveling in his bad-boy attitude.
pp. 255–256 Garﬁeld’s survey of “rules” mixes up commentary about type design with that about typography. The two are not the same and the opinions of Peter Fraterdeus and Fred Goudy should not be confused with those of Robert Bringhurst and J.H. Mason. “The typographic rulebooks began appearing in swift succession from the 1920s…”
Since Garﬁeld names no names when it comes to typographic rulebooks it is unclear if he means books about typography or books about typefaces. I am having trouble thinking of many rulebooks that date from the 1920s. There is Tschichold’s Die neue Typographie, The Art of Spacing by Samuel Barthels, later editions of the works of Benjamin Sherbow, Paul Renner’s Typographie als Kunst (1922) and what else? Possibly Manuel français de typographie moderne by Francis Thibaudeau (1924).
p. 260 “…Georgia, which he [Matthew Carter] designed as a screen font for Microsoft (it is the serif companion to Verdana), as a modern take on Morison’s Times New Roman.”
This conclusion must come from Wikipedia which trys to liken Georgia to Times New Roman. However, the differences it enumerates are substantial: different x-heights, different widths, different serif styles, different axis. It doesn’t say that there are also different features of individual letters such as G, Q, S, b, k, t, w. The two fonts are shown together on p. 261 where their differences are quite clear. Perhaps Garﬁeld came to this conclusion because, in the screen world, Georgia and Verdana function as equivalents to Times New Roman and Helvetica in the print world.
p. 260 “Morison was not only a master craftsman, he was also one of Britain’s leading historians of type.”
Morison was not a craftsman at all, let alone a master craftsman. He was a consultant, advisor, researcher, historian, writer. Victor Lardent was the craftsman for the one typeface that Morison is, controversially, credited with.
Fontbreak: The Interrobang
p. 269 Garﬁeld, in his discussion of the @ sign, does not say who was responsible for choosing it as a symbol for email addresses.
“The Serif of Liverpool”
p. 272 “Whoever was responsible [for designing The Beatles logo], it seems likely that the main subconscious influence on the look of the letters came from Goudy Old Style [sic]….”
The subtleties of typefaces seem to elude Garﬁeld. The Beatles logo has sharp serifs, Goudy Oldstyle has cupped serifs with soft endings and greater bracketing; The Beatles logo has narrow letterforms, Goudy Oldstyle is normal in proportion; the A in The Beatles has an apex seriffed on both sides while the A in Goudy Oldstyle is pointed at the top; and so on.
I cannot comment on most of this chapter as I am unfamiliar with the majority of Garﬁeld’s pop music references and am unable to ﬁnd adequate images online to verify his assertions.
p. 280 “mast-head” should be “masthead”
p. 284 Why is the Vendôme image from the Bauer Type Foundry if Vendôme was produced by Fonderie Olive?
There is no attempt by Garﬁeld to discover the origins of “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” pangram. One Wikipedia entry simply says it appeared in the late 19th c. and was later used by Western Union, but another traces it back to an 1885 issue of The Michigan School Moderator. Its origins lie in typing manuals. It was probably H. Berthold AG that made it popular in the type world. In the early 1980s, they used the phrase “Berthold’s quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” in their Schrift Probes.
“The Worst Fonts in the World”
This is a pointless exercise. Without establishing some criteria upfront, which Garﬁeld does not do, how do you single out eight fonts—and why eight rather than the traditional ten—from the 100,000 or so that exist? Garﬁeld’s eight are: Ecofont, Souvenir [sic], Gill Sans Light Shadowed, Brush Script, Papyrus, Neuland Inline, Ransom Note and the 2012 Olympic Font. This is a strange group of marginal fonts. The inclusion of ITC Souvenir follows Frank Romano’s longtime crusade against the font, but neither he nor Garﬁeld nor those he quotes (Peter Guy and Mark Batty) give a good reason for their hatred. And Garﬁeld, while noting that ITC based its design on the original Souvenir by Morris Fuller Benton (1914), does not realize that the face actually began life as Schelter-Antiqua from Schelter & Giesecke (Leipzig, c.1906). It is an Art Nouveau typeface. Given the hostility against Art Nouveau among modernists and classicists alike, this might explain the widespread dislike of Souvenir. Or it could be because ITC Souvenir was popular. Popularity is the common thread among other detested typefaces from Comic Sans to Arial to Helvetica to Papyrus (discussed later). But Souvenir, as Garﬁeld notes, is also friendly. And “friendly” typefaces, such as Cooper Black and Comic Sans, are distrusted by designers. They are not seen as serious. Another explanation for ITC Souvenir’s popularity might be its legibility if we follow Garﬁeld’s thinking on Sabon. But, then again, Sabon is popular yet liked.
I have already mentioned the historical importance of Brush Script. I have also considered using it on a document which means, in the words of Garfield, that I “should immediately relinquish all claims to good taste”. (p. 305). Brush Script was an ingenious design for its time. The technical limitations of metal type militated against it being graceful, but it is not ugly, let alone excessively so. It has been surpassed by a number of digital scripts in beauty but it is still better than a number of others from the pre-phototype era. Flipping through The Encyclopaedia of Typefaces (5th ed.) I would suggest that Achtung (1932), Bazaar (1936), Elan (1937), Energos (1932), Fanal (1933), Flamme (1933), Gladiator (n.d.), Glenmoy (1931), Hauser Script (1937), Holla (1932), Jowa Script (1967), Muriel (1950), Mandate (1934), Monoline (1933), Papageno (1958), Phänomen (1927), Pentape (1935), Polo (1960), Prägfest (1926), Scribe (1937), Signal (1931), Titantypo (1966), Wave (1962) and Veltro (1931) are all uglier. But most of these typefaces never reached the popularity of Brush Script—at least not in England or the United States. So we are back to the same situation. Brush Script is detested precisely because people, the wrong people, like it. It is popular.
p. 305 “…a quaint and consistent type that looked as if it was written by a fluid, carefree human. The problem was, no one you had every actually met wrote like that, with such perfect weight distribution and no smudges….”
He misunderstands Brush Script. It is not meant to look like handwriting but like brush script as made by a signpainter or commercial lettering artist. And yes, there were—and still are—people who did and do write like that. They use a brush as, presumably, Robert E. Smith did.