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When typefaces were first invented, the notion of having a family of type hadn’t occurred to anyone. All fonts were simply roman designs. In the early 16th century, cursive – or italic (named after Italy, where the idea was popularized) – type was introduced. There were still no typeface families; romans were one style of type and italics were another – much like serif and sans serif. In the late 1700s, foundries began to release fonts in families – pairing roman and italic designs that matched each other in style. Later the concept of typeface weights and proportions was added to the typeface family mix. In the 20th century, type families were enlarged even further with the introduction of


differentdesigns such as condensed, expanded and outlined. The person generally credited with conceiving the modern idea of a typeface family is Morris Fuller Benton, director of typeface development for American Type Founders in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Benton’s premise was that typefaces within a family would share the basic characteristics of the parent design, but with individual variances. The Cheltenham, Century, Cloister, and Stymie typeface families are just a few of the designs developed under Benton’s watchful eye. Benton’s original vision has been expanded several times over the decades; type families have become larger, more diverse and better thought-out.


Helvetica was developed in 1957 by Max Miedinger with Eduard

Hoffmann at the Haas’sche Schriftgiesserei (Haas Type Foundry) of Mßnchenstein, Switzerland.


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Brief History. Helvetica was originally called Die Neue Haas Grotesk, and was closely based on Schelter-Grotesk. It was created specifically to be neutral, to not give any impression or have any meaning in itself. This neutrality was paramount, and based on the idea that type itself should give no meaning.The marketing director at Stempel decided to change the name to Helvetica in 1960 to make the font more marketable internationally. Originally it was proposed that the typeface be called Helvetia (Latin for Switzerland), but the designers didn’t want to name it after a country, and so it was called Helvetica instead.


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Futura was designed by Paul Renner in 1927 and was created as a contribution to the New Frankfurt project. The design is based on the simple geometries that became representative of the Bauhaus style. Renner was not part of Bauhaus but he shared their beliefs regarding fonts as expressions of modernity. Renner rejected the font styles of the past, the grotesques, their narrowness and lack of a consistent system to their weights and shape forms. The design of Futura helped usher in a new Modern age and was emblematic of the era.


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The British newspaper, The Times, commissioned Times New Roman in 1931 after Stanley Morison wrote an article criticizing the newspaper for being badly printed and typographically antiquated. The font was supervised by Morison and drawn by Victor Lardent (an artist from the advertising department of the Times) at the English branch of Monotype. Morison used an older font named Plantin as the basis for his design, but made revisions for legibility and economy of space. Since the previous type used by the newspaper had been called Times Old Roman, Morison’s revision became Times New Roman and made its debut in the 3 October 1932 issue of The Times newspaper.


Brief History. In 1929 an Englishman named Eric Gill was commissioned to make Gill Sans to become the brand font for the London and North Eastern Railway. The commissioner, Cecil Dandridge wanted a unique typeface for the Railway’s publicity material and posters. Gill Sans was first discovered, however, when a man named Douglas Cleverdon opened a bookstore. This is where Eric Gill made a design for the front window and painted what we know today as Gill Sans on it.


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John Baskerville


In 1757 designed by John Baskerville as his reaction to improving the Caslon typeface Baskerville remains metaphoric of the transitional period [between the Old Style and Modern]. He practiced designing typefaces with higher contrast strokes and geometric letterforms which were less influenced by its more humanist cousin Caslon. Baskerville’s ideologies were an influence to both Didot and Bodoni who lead the way to the modern type period.


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Brief History. Didot is a group of typefaces named after the famous French printing and type producing Didot family. The classification is known as modern, or Didone. The most famous Didot typefaces were developed in the period 1784–1811. Firmin Didot (1764–1836) cut the letters, and cast them as type in Paris. His brother, Pierre Didot (1760–1853) used the types in printing. Didot is described as neoclassical, and evocative of the Age of Enlightenment.


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A serif typefaces designed by Giambattista Bodoni (1740–1813)


Bodoni typeface is named after its creator, Giamattista Bodoni. He was an expert printer who ran a printing-office under the Duke of Parma. The design of Bodoni’s type was permitted by and showcased the quality of his company’s work in metal-casting, printing and of the paper made in Parma. It was first designed in the late eighteenth century and has since been revised frequently. Bodoni pulled his inspiration from a few others. He admired the work of John Baskerville and studied the designs of French type founders Pierre Simon and Firmin Didot. Although he studied the work of others his typeface was his own style.


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Clarendon is the name of a slab-serif typeface that was released in 1845 by Thorowgood and Co. (or Thorowgood and Besley) of London, a letter foundry often known as the Fann Street Foundry. The original Clarendon design is credited to Robert Besley, a partner in the foundry, and was originally engraved by punchcutter Benjamin Fox, who may also have contributed to its design. Many copies, adaptations and revivals have been released, becoming almost an entire genre of type design.


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Garamond is a group of many old-style serif typefaces, named for sixteenth-century Parisian engraver Claude Garamond (generally spelled as Garamont in his lifetime). Garamond-style typefaces are popular and often used, particularly for printing body text and books. Garamond worked as an engraver of punches, the masters used to stamp matrices, the moulds used to cast metal type. His designs followed the model of an influential design cut for Venetian printer Aldus Manutius by his punchcutter Francesco Griffo in 1495, and helped to establish what is now called the old-style serif letter design, letters with a relatively organic structure resembling handwriting with a pen, but with a slightly more structured and upright design.


About Typefaces + Families  
About Typefaces + Families  
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