Friday, June 07, 2013

How about mangled upper case?

Okay, some fonts are a bit less conventional than others. And when you're reviving old typefaces you can run into some strange characters (pun intended, of course). This time I came across two weird versions of the upper case "R'. The first was seen on an old dairy factory, in Dutch "ZUIVELFABRIEK DE SOESTER".

The "S" is very intriguing, but what about the "P with an extra stroke"? This should be an "R"?

Example number 2 is to be found in Amsterdam, on the front of an old pharmacy. The text reads "DE RUYTER APOTHEEK", but see for yourself:

This is a "D" with an extra stroke, to turn it into an "R". Should I stick to the original, or should I tweak the R a bit? In other words: would you be confused, reading the original lettering or not?

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Typography and pottery

This will be a hilarious story, but first let me begin with an example from archaeology. Suppose you are digging and you find some shards of pottery. You look at them and decide to reconstruct the original object. So you go from shards to pot. That pot breaks after a while, it gets discarded and later on someone else finds some shards. He decides to clean them, and reconstruct the original object. Sound familiar? Yes, but be prepared for a surprise:

The shards get reconstructed into a piece of pottery. When a fragment of that pot is found later on, it gets reconstructed to an amphora. It is still pottery, but somewhat different.

I noticed something similar in typography. Yours truly, while digging, found a fragment of text that was made by graphic designer Fré Cohen. I decided to reconstruct those fragments into a font. In due course the font was used for the book Versteende Welvaart (Petrified Prosperity) dealing with architecture in the Dutch province of Groningen. A flyer was made, to invite people to the official introduction of the book. That flyer was found by a designer, and from those shards of the alphabet he decided to reconstruct the orginal font. In pictures, this boils down to:

Fré Cohen designed the word "VERSLAG", which I extended to a whole alphabet. Artist Frits Jonker saw a fragment "VERSTEENDE WELVAART" and extended that to a complete alphabet. You cannot imagine these things, they just happen. And I'm glad they do!