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The Typehead Chronicles of Thomas Christensen, ABCedminded Typographer

This site has been around, in various forms, for a long time. It began as an auxiliary to the Mercury House book publishing site that we put up in December 1994. At that time it was my personal page on the MH site, and so at first it developed a kind of resume-like structure, hints of which can still be seen here if you look hard enough.

One result of this sprawling accretion of 15 years of content of various sorts is that it’s become a bit difficult to keep everything tidy and up to date. So, after I got hacked last fall I patched the vulnerabilities and removed the garbage and restore everything as best I could.

But is wasn’t until I got a comment asking about typefaces over at the Asian Art Museum site that I realized that I had reverted the typehead section of the site to an older iteration that was unsatisfactory in several ways. So I’ve spent a part of today getting the section in better shape. I’ve improved the navigation of the pages and generally tightened things up a bit.

I’m afraid the discussion of faces tends to favor the traditional and doesn’t get much into many of the interesting contemporary faces that have been created in recent years — that is an assignment still to be completed.

Generally for each face I show a sample (mostly without, so far, comparing the many different digital versions that may be available), highlight identifying features, discuss the designer and history, talk about the qualities of the face and how it might be used, and give a few quotes from type designers or users about the face. For example, here are a few quotes about Bembo (a face I like and have used often):

  • “Bembo roman and italic are somewhat quieter and less faithful to their sources than Centaur and Arrighi. They are nevertheless serene and versatile faces of genuine Ranaissance structure.”
    —Robert Bringhurst
  • “On the whole it has to be said that while the first italic [Fairbank] has too much personality the second [Bembo italic] has too little. While not disagreeable, it is insipid.”
    —Stanley Morison
  • “Tolerable but uninspiring.”
    —John Miles (RN)

There is much more that I need to do to make The Typehead Chronicles truly top-drawer, but there is some content there that might be of interest just the same.

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3 Comments

  1. Thanks for putting this up. I’m thinking a lot about what my next blog posts will be and I hope to do one (or more) on book design. This is a great resource. Another is a response to Baker’s critique of the King Tut exhibit but I’m working on how to say critical things without giving offense.

  2. Ooops…clicked before I should have. I guess I should add that I have no reason to believe that Baker reads my blog. I think that bloggers are a dirty word in his vocabulary but I know that a lot of other people do. So, I have a standard that I want to uphold.

  3. Nancy, I will be watching for that post with interest.

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