Type Specimens

Type Specimens includes 1. an ongoing synopsis of type specimens that have been digitized and posted online; and 2. posts about various aspects—historical, aesthetic, textual, socio-political, etc.—of specific type specimens in libraries, archives, and online.

Blue Pencil no. 64—Type Specimens from 1800 to 1836

This is the fourth in a series of posts listing type specimens that have been digitized and placed online. Many of them are downloadable in whole or as individual pages. A few items listed are not type specimens, but books that show important typefaces in use.
N.B. Several of the St. Bride Library type specimens available at the Internet Archive have fold-out pages or inserted items which do not appear in the regular viewer or in the PDF downloads. To access …
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Online Type Specimens at St. Bride Library—Fold-outs

In digitizing their pre-1831 type specimen books St. Bride Library in London—arguably the preeminent repository of material on the history of type—was unable to fit some elements of the books into the Internet Archive format. Various fold-outs and inserted items had to be placed on the site as TIFFs rather than included in the complete book download options. Roughly one-fifth of the specimens digitized and uploaded to the Internet Archive fall into this category. The fold-out material includes type samples …
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Blue Pencil no. 63—Type Specimens 1770 to 1799

This is the third in a series of posts listing type specimens that have been digitized and placed online. Many of them are downloadable in whole or as individual pages. A few items listed are not type specimens, but books that show important typefaces in use.
N.B. Several of the St. Bride Library type specimens available at the Internet Archive have fold-out pages or inserted items which do not appear in the regular viewer or in the PDF downloads. To access …
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Blue pencil no. 62—Type Specimens from 1700 to 1769

This is the second in a series of posts listing type specimens that have been digitized and placed online. Many of them are downloadable in whole or as individual pages. A few items listed are not type specimens, but books that show important typefaces in use.
N.B. Several of the St. Bride Library type specimens available at the Internet Archive have fold-out pages or inserted items which do not appear in the regular viewer or in the PDF downloads. To access …
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Blue Pencil no. 60 addendum—Some comments by Dan Reynolds on “Die Schrift unserer Zeit”

Type historian Dan Reynolds has sent me the following comments regarding my notes to the English translations of Paul Renner’s essay “Futura: Die Schrift unsere Zeit” in Blue Pencil no. 60. Within brackets I have added some clarifying information.

There are two things that deeply bother me about the advertising around Futura’s launch. The first is that, as far as I can remember reading, there does not seem to have been any critical reaction to the phrase “Die Schrift …
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Blue Pencil no. 60—Die Schrift unserer Zeit

Front cover of Futura 1. (Frankfurt am Main: Bauersche Giesserei, 1927). Image courtesy of St. Bride Library.
Futura 1., the first specimen of Paul Renner’s groundbreaking Futura typeface contained an essay titled “Futura: Die Schrift für unserer Zeit” (usually translated as “Futura: The Type for Our Time”). The provocative title is well-known, but Renner’s actual text less so. It has never been translated in full into English. [1] An abridged version appeared as “Futura: The Type of Today and Tomorrow” in …
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Blue Pencil no. 61—Type Specimens 1486 to 1704

This is the first of a series of posts listing type specimens that have been digitized and placed online. Many of them are downloadable in whole or as individual pages.

Index of Selected Type Designers, Punchcutters and Type Foundries
Arrighi, Ludovico Vicentino degli—1529
Garamont, Claude—1592 (2), 1622, and 1664
Granjon, Robert—1592 (2), 1622, and 1664
Guyot, François—1565
Janson, Anton—1671 (2), c.1675, 1678 (2), c.1680, 1683, and 1687 (2)
Le Bé, Guillaume—1546 and 1602
Luthersche Schriftgiesserei—1664, 1665, and 1678 (2)
Moreau, Pierre—1645
Ratdolt, Erhard—1486
Schmidt, Johann—c.1670, c.1674, and 1677
Voskens, Bartolomaeus—c.1665 (2)
Voskens, Reinhard—c.1668 …
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Blue Pencil no. 51—ITC as a Pioneer of Diversity in Type Design

Since the summer of 2020 I have been compiling a comprehensive list of digitized type specimens available online. My list includes some unexpected items such as U&lc, the magazine that ITC (International Typeface Corporation) published from 1974 to 1999. The magazine was a stealth type specimen with every article set in an ITC typeface (identified with a tiny credit at the end and also listed on the contents page). But the great majority of issues also introduced (or sometimes …
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