Typography is an ongoing matter. The evolution of typefaces is achieved through constant small steps.
Each generation of designers and engineers contributes to this extensive dialogue concerning shapes and their relationships.
The past is intertwined with the future, as reading and writing rely on conventions. Some of these conventions are fundamental; for instance, the uppercase T consists of two lines, one horizontal and the other vertical, both centered. Other conventions are more flexible and open up new possibilities.
Type design is based on the underlying technology. For example, a font that was originally designed for letterpress needs to be adapted into a digital font. It is not simply a matter of transferring it from one technique to another.
An important source of inspiration comes from old specimen books from the 19th century. These publications were created by font publishers for print shops to assist in choosing and utilizing appropriate fonts for their work. Over the years, I have compiled a collection of these books and some intriguing printed materials. Here are a few of my favorites.
Linotype Faces, printed by the Mergenthaler Linotype Company, Brooklyn, New York, 1930..
Linotype Faces, printed by the Mergenthaler Linotype Company, Brooklyn, New York, 1930.
Binder of Rochester Monotype Composition Company, ca 1950.
American Specimen Book of Type Styles, American Type Founders Company, 1912.
Old newspapters can be an rich source, Berner Zeitung, 1982.
Histoire de l’imprimerie par l’image: Esthetique du livre, Volume 3, Henri Jonquieres, 1929.