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at gigantic scales. The introduction of the combined pantograph and router in 1834 revolutionized wood-type.” As these inventions mechanized the printing and typesetting processes, an avalanche of handbills and posters descended upon consumers, pushing advertisers to find new ways to make their products and services known to an increasingly literate middle class. Technology together with advertising necessitated a new kind of letterform:

Rockwell, one of those monstrous and

controversial slab serifs of the 1930s

and 40s, is a confident typeface that

conveys a sense of boldness on many

a contemporary book cover ( Juba! By

Walter Dean Myers, 2015) and website

(Gourdin & Müller, 2013). Propelled

by the Industrial Revolution, exciting

new technologies made printing

efficient and bulky typefaces more

accessible. As Ellen Lupton writes

type cut from wood could be printed

few lines of “Pica Antique.”

specimen book in which he featured a

addendum to Vincent Figgins’ type

serif that first appeared in an 1817

of display types, among them a slab

nineteenth century concocted a variety

display type. Type designers of the


Spawn of

Late 19th Centurey

­– Steinberg


actions among the

provoked violent

in 1814 in case it

at The Times

operated in secret

be installed and

machine had to

“ The König printing

” ­– Kane

of advertising for heavy type in commercial printing.”

These faces responded to the newly developed needs

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Turn of the Century

had gone forever, until . . .

And typographers thought slab serifs

with its minimalist sans serif type faces.

the wake of the Modernist movement

slab serifs altogether disappeared in

And just as quickly as they had arrived,

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advertising: Particularly in the 1930s

and 40s “advertising typography was emerging as a subject in its own right.” Schools of thought developed around principles of advertising, as seen in Benjamin Sherbow’s 1916 how-to book Making Type Work: “Advertising print must command attention. Advertising print must get itself read. Advertising print must get itself understood.” And it was also during this time that type designers placed more importance on

Display typefaces made a fierce

comeback in the grotesque forms of

the continuity of type families rather

fat face, Egyptian, extra-condensed,

and gothic. As Lupton describes it,

the “basic square serif form . . . was

cut, pinched, pulled, and curled to

spawn new species of ornament.”

The revival of the slab serif was led

by German type foundries in the

1920s with Memphis leading the

way. According to James Moran, the

movement continued to be driven by

Annual, 1938.

days & magic nights” ad in The Penrose

seen in the “Come to Egypt for sunny

stood out in handbills and posters, as

a staple in bold designs because they

chagrin of critics, slab serifs became

than individual characters. To the



Early 20th Century

“The general

– Sherbow

promises something of interest.”

at least a look because its dress

of printed matter and give it

you want to pick up a piece

attractiveness that makes

and dreary. It lacks the

matter is that it is dull

quality of your printed

I get of the physical

impression that

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Rockwell Regular Rockwell Italic Rockwell Bold Rockwell Bold Italic Rockwell Condensed Regular Rockwell Condensed Bold Rockwell Extra Bold



1910 - 1934

issued Rockwell as we know it today.

Pierpont of the Monotype Foundry

1920s. Finally, in 1934, Frank Hinman

soon-to-be-Rockwell as Antique in the

Morris Benton revised and reissued

Founders bought out Inland in 1911, and

Foundry in St. Louis. American Type

cut by William Schraubstadter at Inland

appeared in 1910 as Litho Antique,

The original Rockwell typeface actually

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taken out into mid-Atlantic and sunk.” Nevertheless, Rockwell managed to stick around, surviving yet another revolution in technology in the form of digital printing and online publishing. Designers continue to make use of Rockwell and other monstrosities of the Industrial Revolution in websites, book covers, and store fronts. According to design bloggers, Rockwell represents confidence and is often combined with neutral typefaces as modern-day

While Rockwell was making quite

a splash in advertising, critics and

typographers hardly appreciated

its eccentricities. At best, Rockwell

was confused with every other slab

serif: “Another new type face . . .

called variously: Memphis, Karnak,

Girder, Beton, Rockwell.” At worst,

typographers lobbied for Rockwell’s

utter destruction: “it would be no

great loss if all of the modern slab

serifs, headed by Rockwell, could be

Rockwell is here to stay.

level of readability. Love it or hate it,

abuses while maintaining a high

transparancy, textures, and other

lends itself to bold colors, layers of

early twentieth century. The face

developed through the chaos of the

rules of advertising and hierarchy

typographers utilize sophisticated



The 21st Century

– McLean

Atlantic and sunk.”

be taken out into mid-

by Rockwell, could

slab serifs, headed

loss if all of the modern

It would be no great

– Lupton

elements that could be freely adjusted.”

end-strokes into independent geometric

“ Serifs were transformed from calligraphic

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Steinberg, S. (1955). Five Hundred Years of Printing (3rd ed., pp. 275-365). Middlesex, England: Penguin Books. Tam, K. (2003). The revival of slab-serif typefaces in the twentieth century. Retrieved from

Devroye, L. (2005). The Inland Type Foundry. Retrieved 16 March 2017, from Dodge, M. (2010). Rockwell Typeface poster (school project). Retrieved 25 February 2017, from http://www.meredithdodge.

Laurence King.

Marshall, L. & Meachem, L. (2012). How to use type. London:

architectural press.


page 15

NJ: Prentice-Hall. Lupton, E. (2010). Thinking with type. New York, N.Y.: Princeton

design career. Retrieved 25 February 2017, from http://blog.

Kane, J. (2003). A type primer (1st ed., p. 48). Upper Saddle River,

Zacharzewski, A. (2009). 25 classic fonts that will last a whole



(4th ed., p. An Appendix p. 201). London: the Printing Historical

Is Rockwell a web safe font?. (2009). Retrieved 25 February 2017,

Wolpe, B. (1967). Vincent Figgins Type Specimens 1801 and 1815


Retrieved 25 February 2017, from typefaces/5086/rockwell

February 2017, from

Fitzsimmons, E. & Contributed,. (2015). Rockwell in use.

Vjestica, I. (2012). 5 classic presentation fonts. Retrieved 25

The Century Co.


Sherbow, B. (1916). Making Type Work (1st ed., p. 3). New York:


Moran, J. (1974). Printing in the 20th Century. New York: Hastings House.

designers. Retrieved 25 February 2017, from

Chapman, C. (2011). Free fonts and premium fonts used by

Stephanie Long, Spring 2017 Texas State University MFA Communication Design Program Grid: Modular, 6 column/5 row Body Copy: Regular, 9pt/15pt leading

Type Specimen Booklet: Rockwell  

This is a type specimen booklet for Rockwell. I designed it for a introductory typography course as part of the MFA in Communication Design...

Type Specimen Booklet: Rockwell  

This is a type specimen booklet for Rockwell. I designed it for a introductory typography course as part of the MFA in Communication Design...