Origins of popular typefaces

Download the overview as a PDF here (and ignore the terribly written article, wrong typeface names, Times New Roman classified as a Sans Serif, come on) 


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Wikipedia states Eric Gill as having lived between 1882-1940. This chart has him from 1878-1956.

James Puckett said...

Jenson most certainly did NOT create the first Roman type. The first roman type was created by Rusch of Straßburg in 1464, six years prior to the Jenson roman.8

James Puckett said...

Other inaccuracies and issues:
• The Gutenberg type was not the first movable type. Movable type in Asia predates Gutenberg.
• Aldine romans are only the first old style type if Jenson’s type is not considered an oldstyle. Which would make little sense given that the Aldine types were probably based on Jenson’s.
• Exactly when and with who was Garamond the most popular serif type?
• Bodoni never designed a fat face. Fat faces appeared in London between 1810 and 1820, Bodoni died in 1813.
• Being used in wanted posters hardly makes Clarendon special. Lots of other fonts have been used in wanted posters.
• Akzidenz was not especially popular with Bauhaus designers. They did use Venus a lot.
• Futura is not a truly geometric typeface. The Bauer design team and Paul Renner spent two years deliberately toning down the geometry of the design to make it work. Kabel is far more geometric than Futura, and it was released a year earlier.
• Courier is not the standard typeface of the US Government. The US Government has no standard typeface.
• There is no way Helvetica is the most widely distributed default font on computer systems. For starters, Helvetica does not come with Windows, the most popular computer system.
• Gill Sans was designed for Monotype and NOT commissioned for a railway.
• Univers is not the first typeface designed as part of a related series. That goes back at least to Bodoni. Univers is just the first large series planned in advance.

And for Christ’s sake, learn to set type. Never set a textura in all caps and letterspace roman capitals.

Take this godawful mess down and read a book instead of copy/pasting crap you find online.

James Puckett said...

Expanding on my Gill Sans comment, Gill Sans began as a single weight commission released by Stanley Morison and released in 1928. In 1928 the London and North Eastern Railway commissioned an expansion of the design. All of which can be found in thirty seconds with a simple Google search.

James T said...

Jenson didn't use slanted Capitals, nor did anybody for at least another 100 years; why you chose them to represent him is beyond me.

Bodoni probably wouldn't have considered his typeface to be a novelty.

Why did Didot not make the cut?

What makes Gill Sans influential is that its based on carved forms and is highly legible, not that it was (or wasn't) commissioned for a project. It's also fairly geometric (look at the M N O etc...).

I'm fairly sure TNR is the most common font used by the US Government. Could it be that you looked at memos written on typewriters and just assumed everything was done in courier? Also, I'm surprised there is no mention of why fonts like courier were so commonly used...

Mrs. Eaves is more than a revival of "punchcutter type". Infact, all of your Garamonds, Calsons, Jensons, etc, are revivals of "punchcutter type" – a term about as descriptive as "film camera photography".

Given the lack of research, I'm surprised Times New Roman isn't listed as the successor to Times Old Roman.

nicetype said...

As fun as it is, why don't you share your insights with the original author, because I am surely not taking responsibility for this mess. Why would I point out a mistake like calling TNR a sans serif and leave it like that? Head to the source, folks.

Don Crowley said...

Thank you for this post. What a pity about the grumpy old man preaching instead of teaching. I love this.

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