Monotype Dante

This book was set in Monotype Dante, a typeface designed by Giovanni Mardersteig (1892-1977). Its first use was in an edition of Boccaccio’s Trattatello in laude di Dante that appeared in 1954. Although modeled on the Aldine type used for Pietro Cardinal Bembo’s treatise De Aetna in 1495, Dante is a thoroughly modern interpretation of the venerable face. [Note to M. G. Vassanji, The Magic of Saida: A Novel (New York: Knopf, 2013)]

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This book was set in Scala, a typeface designed by the Dutch designer Martin Majoor (b. 1960) in 1988 and released by the FontFont foundry in 1990. While designed as a fully modern family of fonts containing both a serif and a sans serif alphabet, Scala retains many refinements normally associated with traditional fonts. [Note to James Salter, All That Is: A Novel (New York: Knopf, 2013)]

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Baskerville and Bodoni

This book is set in the Adobe fonts Berthold Baskerville Book and Bodoni, contemporary adaptations of fonts created by John Baskerville in the mid-eighteenth century, and by Giambattista Bodoni in the early nineteenth century. The headings are set in Bodoni poster, Bodoni Poster Compressed, and Bodoni Bold Condensed. The type was composed at Wellington Graphics in Boston, Massachusetts, in Corel Ventura Publisher on an IBM PC. [Note to Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press, 1999)

[Ed: Thanks to Stan Absher for submitting Baskerville and Bodoni.]

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Adobe Garamond

This book was set in Adobe Garamond. Designed for the Adobe Corporation by Robert Slimbach, the fonts are based on types first cut by Claude Garamond (c. 1480-1561). Garamond was a pupil of Geoffroy Tory and is believed to have followed the Venetian models, although he introduced a number of important differences, and it is to him that we owe the letter we now refer to as “old style.”  [Note to James Gleick, The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood (New York: Pantheon Books, 2011)]

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This book was set on the Linotype in Janson, a recutting made direct from the type cast from matrices (now in possession of the Stempel foundry, Frankfurt am Main) made by Anton Janson some time between 1660 and 1687.

Continue reading

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Steelcase Narrow 12

A Note on the Type

This book is set in 12 point Steelcase Narrow. Developed by the print house of Stick and Cooley in the 1890s, its soaring capitals and squat lowercase vowels are generally considered the highest expression of the optimistic, progressive stance the firm took toward type design. Used almost exclusively in dramatic flyers and stagebills, it was not until the advent of Millhouse Roman Wide—whose sans serifed, rigid forms contemporary dramatists considered a pleasing contrast to the flowery content of the flyers—that Steelcase Narrow ceded its place (as Shaw offhandedly remarked) at the “top of the bottom.”

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New Unical 15

A Note on the Type

This book has been set in New Unical 15. Recent strides in electronic publishing technology have afforded type designers unheard of liberty to stretch the boundaries of readable and accurate type. No longer restricted by the resistance of stone, wood, or metal to the hand of the craftsman, they have created fonts that spring, as it were, directly from the imagination of the designer. New Unical adapts to Latin-derived alphabets the character of the script favored by Late-Hellenistic era Greek copyists. In this respect it looks backwards to move forwards: the use of an ancient but forgotten aesthetic renders it avant-garde, perhaps even off-putting, in comparison to its more whimsical contemporaries.

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Klemper 12

A Note on the Type

This book is set in Klemper 12. As its name suggests, it is a squat, durable type. It was designed in the 1630s by Franz Klemper, a German-Catholic printmaker active in Oberbaden-baden between 1615 and 1642. He is perhaps best known for his taschenbuecher of woodcuts memorializing the theological prowess of the Catholic reformer Johann Eck (1486-1543). Klemper designed this font to accompany his final volume of woodcuts, De destructionis Zwingliensis, an acerbic, highly allegorical depiction of the 1526 public disputations at Baden. Despite the popularity of his woodcuts—the ten-volume set went through six editions and thirty-seven reprints from 1622 to 1703—and the eye for political and theological detail he lavished on them, the spirit of anti-clericalism sparked by Bonaparte elsewhere on the continent made his work seem out of step with the growing tide of nationalism, and it was quickly forgotten. The integrity of his typeface, however— its thick serifs and stolid ligatures—, remains beyond dispute.


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Schiffer Elite 13

A Note on the Type

This book has been set by hand in Schiffer Elite 13 point using wooden, moveable type. Its origins are unknown, although there is some speculation that it is a free adaptation of Maxsland, a lost seventeenth-century typeface of which no examples are known to survive. Despite this, it enjoys no-less-famous a witness than William Blake, who mentions it in a letter to the architect A.F. Littyle when praising the design of a prayer-book shown to him “bye ‘na min’str fa’ Ghen” [by a minister from Ghent]—a noble heritage clearly evident in the proud, muscular bearing of this thoroughly Modern type.

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Monotype Waldbaum

A Note on the Type

This book was set in a digital version of Monotype Walbaum. The original typeface was created by Justus Erich Walbaum (1768-1839) in 1810. Before becoming a punch cutter with his own type foundries in Goslar and Weimar, he was apprenticed to a confectioner, where he is said to have taught himself engraving, making his own cookie molds using tools made from sword blades. The letterforms were modeled on the “modern” cuts being made at the time by Giambattista Bodoni and the Didot family.


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