Focus: Old Style Typefaces

As I have covered in my lecture, the first movable type was a Blackletter style. Then came the Humanist typefaces. These are both very important phases in typography, but I will be concentrating on the 5 main families of type.

Like Humanist faces, Old Style faces owe much to calligraphy. Old Style faces do as well, but there are important innovations to note. No longer did the type try to mimic the handwriting of scribes: no, this is the period when type kicks into high gear and comes out on its own.

Old Style traits

The Old Style types start to display a greater refinement: this is a direct result of technological innovation. Punchcutters were getting better and better at their jobs, and metals were getting more refined. You can see this improvement by noting the sharper contrast between thick and thin strokes which helps the type stand out all the better on the page. Look at the serifs n the ascenders: they are more wedge-shaped and crisp.

Another change to note is the stress of the letterforms to a more perpendicular or upright position. Look at the e, with its horizontal crossbar. This was a radical change from the Humanist lowercase e with its slanted stress.

Some Old Style Typefaces:

  • Bembo
  • Berling
  • Calisto
  • Garamond
  • Goudy Old Style
  • Granjon
  • Janson
  • Palatino
  • Perpetua
  • Plantin
  • Sabon
  • Weiss

Articles Used to Write This Lesson
History of typography: Old Style


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