Calypso PF free download

Excoffon’s Calypso now free for download!

During research for my book Letter Fountain many typefaces passed my eye. Most of them designed with meticulous precision and based on the knowledge of readability and technical perfection achieved in hundreds of years. But sometimes fascination strikes when a designer leaves the common path. Roger Excoffon was one of them and for me one of the most striking typefaces was Calypso, a typeface that has a terrible readability, and you can even ask yourself why it is made in the first place. Marcel Olive, owner of Fonderie Olive saw Excoffon experimenting with an enlarged print of a half-tone screen at Olive studio. He was rolling it up and looked through it like a kaleidoscope. A metal type with half-tone dots was not done before and a technical challenge to achieve. Marcel Olive saw the chance to profile the technical capabilities of his foundry and earn a worldwide reputation and gave Excoffon permission to execute the design proposal.

After establishing the angle and size of the dots by Olive Studio each character was drawn dot by dot using a pair of compasses. According to José Mendoza y Almeida, who lead the team at the studio, Excoffon made sketches of the outlines of each character and in the studio shading was added by airbrush. The airbrush shading was converted to a dot-screen that went from deep black to white. It was quite a challenge to transfer the drawings with a pantograph and to scale this complex drawings in different type sizes to the matrices. Then it had to be milled, retouched and casted in lead reproducing all the dots of the dot-screen. Calypso was cast in four sizes: 20, 24, 30 and 36 pt and had 26 capitals, a period, an apostrophe (used a lot in French), and a hyphen.

Most of the typefaces ever made have been digitized. Calypso was no exception. I found and downloaded Calypso Boy from Scootergraphics (Digitized by Marty Pfeiffer) and Calypso by Profonts (digitized by Ralph Michael Unger). Ralph Michael Unger has added numerals, a question mark, an exclamation mark, ligatures and a lot of other useful characters, making it a complete digital font. By comparing the capitals I saw that they where quite different and it seemed to me that they were based on the Calypso silkscreen-printed rub down Letraset version because the dots were not round like on the original drawings I had seen in several publications and advertising for this typeface.

Of course the original drawings were also not exactly the same as the metal type. As earlier written the punches that were cut by the Benton pantograph were retouched and because of that there were differences compared with the original drawings. So the final design had to be found in the actual cast type. I went looking for this type and found the site of D. Stempel GmbH that got the original matrices of D. Stempel AG and all the takeovers Stempel made during their existence. One of them was Fonderie Olive. I ordered a set of newly cast type from the original Olive matrices and found out that it was indeed quite different from the digital fonts that I bought. At that time Marjolein Koper was working as an intern at our design studio Polka Design and I asked her to digitize Calypso. The result was better than the fonts I bought but still I was not satisfied. After she came back to work at our studio on a steady base we photographed the metal type with a Micro Nikkor on a D800 to get the sharpest enlargement we could get. With this pictures Marjolein established the exact angle of the grid and we decided to begin again from scratch. Although it still is not an exact reproduction of the original metal type it has more detail and it can match almost the big reproductions seen in the first advertising in the French printers’ yearbook “Caractère Noël 1957” and recent publications with original drawings. You can download the result of our effort free on our site as TrueType font for Mac and Windows: http://www.letterfountain.com/extras_e.html
Please tale advantage of this utterly useless font in your work and send me some results!

Joep Pohlen, Polka Design/Fontana Publishers, April 2013
Steegstraat 12, NL-6041EA Roermond, The Netherlands
joep@polka.nl
www.polka.nlwww.letterfountain.comwww.crucialfuel.com

In the picture you see above left the original sample of the 'C' from the Calypso from 1960 in the yearbook Caractère Noël. Below right you see our version. The other two are existing digital fonts from 1997 and 2005. Above the 24 point metal type our version is based on. Of course together with other sources that show original drawings and enlarged type.

Further reading:
Sandra Chamaret, Julien Gineste and Sébastien Morlighem, “Roger Excoffon et la Fonderie Olive”, Ypsilon, Paris 2010 (French/ English).
Rault, David, Roger Excoffon, Le Gentleman de la typographie, Atelier Perrousseaux, Paris 2011 (French/ English).
And a recent article in Eye Magazine featuring an original Calypso ‘R’ drawing on the cover:
http://www.eyemagazine.com/feature/article/mr-mistral

eliason's picture

Ah, I get it, thanks.

Jack B. Nimblest Jr.'s picture

Meaning the Face needs to be clean?

"I flipped the image so it can be read by non-metal typesetters ;-)"

May I flip it back? This thread is giving me type vertigo. (-;

polkawithfontana's picture

bbg, here it is flipped back. In the 100% photographs I saw something strange. In the detail from the Calypso you see in the middle a strange deformation between some dots. I think that this is a casting problem? As comparison I placed a detail of the Gutenberglied below.

polkawithfontana's picture

Here on the right the metal type that Tetterode made in 1951 (on the left the one from Haas). Henk Gianotten kindly send it to me with an explanation. It measures 10 pt with the Lords Prayer. The dutch version has 380 characters. So it is smaller and has more characters than the one from Haas. Tetterode made 13 metal types for the smallest book in the world (in 1951) that contained 6 intro pages and the Lords Prayer in 7 languages. The page size was 5 x 5.3 mm. The engraving was done during the night because Tram line 3 in Amsterdam caused trembling during the day that could influence the engraving by the pantograph. The book and metal type is still available at the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz. Many thanks to Henk for sending me the metal type and the nice story that came with it.

dezcom's picture

If they had to do it in NYC with all night subway, it would have been a bit shaky ;-)

Theunis de Jong's picture

Loving this thread. The technology under discussion predates what I started with -- chemical plates (but we ordered those from Tetterode as well) --, except that I also used rub-off Letrasets to create CRC with.

polkawithfontana's picture

To make it complete here the Letraset version compared to the Advert in Caractère Noël like before. On the right the Letraset version. Above left a couple of dots are gone and the white holes in the black parts are getting pretty round as well. I thought the Letraset sheets were printed with silkscreen but I am not sure about that because I do not see the typical screen outlines. Maybe someone knows?

Albert Jan Pool's picture

Letraset sheets were printed using silkscreens, but the silkscreens were of course produced from films. The production method may have gone through several stages, but at a certain stage, the films were produced from red masking films (such as Rubylith by Ulano) which were either cut by hand or by a plotting machine. I recall a small booklet which describes that production process, also colleagues reported this after having visited Letraset in England. Around 1983, Letraset switched from cutting by hand to Ikarus, which meant that the artwork was digitized and corrected and then output on the aforementioned plotter, typically an Aristo flat-bed plotter. Of course the film cutters tried to compete with the machine output for some time … In the case of Calypso I think that the film cutting part has been left out. I think the characters were printed on baryte paper, then photographically enlarged, retouched and then again films were used to create the master film from which the films for the sheets were produced. Anyway, there is no reason why a former Letraset typeface should show screen outlines.

rs_donsata's picture

This is the most entertaining Typophile post I have read in recent times. I'll try to do something on a T shirt with Calypso for an artsy client dealing with frogs and post it back once it's printed.

PabloImpallari's picture

Off-topic, but related to the Letraset to Digital transition: http://typophile.com/node/91696

polkawithfontana's picture

Albert Jan, What I mean is that a line in silkscreen has always a jagged edge (I hope this is good English!). I don't see that jagged edge on the Letraset sheet. On the pictures the most recent limited edition Slanted (Cuba) packed in a wooden cigar box with photocards and some silkscreened cards. The one I enlarged is situated at the top (the wing of the bird). You can see in the enlarged part almost which screen is used to print. I do not say that you are wrong but I am curious which screen Letraset used. After all the original film that is used to expose the light-sensitive layer can be as sharp as a knife but always the screen will be visible because it stays as the carrier of the exposed layer. Or do I make a wrong assumption? -Joep


Bert Vanderveen's picture

It is a common misunderstanding that silkscreen is a coarse repro-technique. I have seen full colour printing in 200 lines/cm done in silkscreen… (Done in the eighties in Germany, I think.)

hrant's picture

Real quick: Joep, that sawtooth pattern you're seeing is called "half-bitting" and it's used for anti-aliasing; you can see it quite clearly towards the top (closer-to-rectilinear) part of the curve. So it's a feature, not a bug. :-)

I'm still trying to make time to catch up to all the cool new stuff in this thread!

hhp

polkawithfontana's picture

Mmm, Hrant, I have done some silkscreening (not at 200 dpi, Bert ...) but are we talking about the same technique? You know, pushing ink through a woven mesh? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Screen_printing

polkawithfontana's picture

By the way, I just saw the movie Seven Psychopaths. With Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken, Tom Waits, Sam Rockwell, Colin Farrel and so on. Weird and beautiful. The director who made it also directed In Bruges. Some compare him with Tarantino but I think he lives somewhere between Quentin T. and the Coen Brothers. Go see it!! -Joep

(I sometimes have to take some time of ...)

hrant's picture

So silk-screening naturally produces half-bitting? Wow.

But I assume you're saying that you're not seeing that in the Letraset sheet. I guess at some point in the process that Albert Jan nicely described, blurriness ends up hiding it?

BTW Bert said 200 per cm...

hhp

dezcom's picture

For many years, the Swiss have made very high quality silkscreen posters. I have seen close up the originals from posters by Armin Hofmann, Müeller-Brockmann, Peter Megert, and others. The work was very precise, clean and perfectly registered. I don't know if today, the craft is still at the level hat it was in the 1960s. The examples I saw were from the 50s and 60s. They were quite good!

Nick Shinn's picture


From the catalogue for the This Is Tomorrow exhibit in London, 1956, designed by Edward Wright. I would imagine there were other contemporary uses of this Pop Art “blow up” technique—turning ground into figure—which is how I see Excoffon’s design. Roy Lichstenstein started his comic-book paintings in 1961.

Were there gradient Ben Day (or equivalent) screens—in film or paper—available at the time? If so, they would have been a useful design tool for Calypso.

Nice use of the name Belafonte—Harry Belafonte’s Calypso (1956) was the first million-selling LP.

kentlew's picture

but always the screen will be visible because it stays as the carrier of the exposed layer. Or do I make a wrong assumption?

Joep — I should think that, in general, the degree to which evidence of the screen might remain would have a lot to do with the viscosity of the ink and the absorption of the paper/substrate.

In the case of Letraset sheets, this was certainly no ordinary ink (and probably plasticized). It needed to cover relatively thickly and remain somewhat flexible, and it was not absorbed into the substrate, obviously (otherwise, how would it transfer?).

I can imagine — and this is pure speculation — that with enough viscosity, any effect from the screen could have disappeared as a result of surface tension after the screen was removed.

Whereas, in an example like the postcard you showed, with thin ink and absorbent paper, edge effects from the interaction of the screen with the mask are more likely to remain evident as the ink sets almost as soon as applied.

polkawithfontana's picture

Super page Nick! It lets me remember the letraset and Mecanorma sheets with screen dots you could cut out with a knife.

Kent – so you think that the material they printed was like an oil stain that formed from itself a fluent edge. It is of course an explanation that the jagged edge is gone that is normal with silkscreen printing. I thought that there was a possiblity that it could be done with offset and a special ink but Albert Jan Pool said earlier that Letraset was silkscreen printed. He mentioned also that it probably was printed first with lead type (or maybe phototype?), in the case of Calypso at a maximum size of 36 pt and then enlarged with the repro-camera to 72 pt. That is why it isn't as sharp anymore because the original was printed type. I thought that they would work from the original artwork (or a copyproof of it) and had it reduced to 72 pt with the repro-camera.

polkawithfontana's picture

In 1971 Monty Python's Big Red Book was published. I have one of 29,999 books! They also made use of the enlarged dot screen in 'found', cut, glued and hand coloured collages. Not as big dots as Nick's example but it shows that the dot screen had followers for a long time.

Albert Jan Pool's picture

Letraset was silkscreen printed.

I think that has been the case. Concerning Letraset, this is what I heard through other people. In the mid-eighties, an older silk screen printer in The Hague showed me some of his old stock of larger ‘wet-transfer’ letters that had been produced through silk screen printing. He also told me that it would be rather easy to produce such letters oneself. As far as I remember, the letters did not show rough edges. He told me that this kind of transfer letters had disappeared from the market because of the dry-transfer system and the headline phototypesetting systems. The advantage of the headline machines is that they could produce headlines in almost any typeface and size needed, whereas wet-transfer letters were only available in a limited range of designs and sizes.

Nick Shinn's picture

Dry transfer sheets, produced by silkscreen, was how we made slick mock-ups or “comps” in the 1970s and 1980s.

In fact, silkscreening a spot color onto transfer sheet, and rubbing it down onto a sheet of spot colored pantone paper, produced a crisper image than subsequent 133-line CMYK printing with its attendant registration problems.

As a designer, I didn’t do the silkscreening, but bought the service from the same supply house that also made PMTs, line screen conversions, etc.

hrant's picture

size of 36 pt

That might explain the differing patterns in your comparison (first post of the 16th) against the 60 pt Noël sample.

Concerning the softening of the edges of Letraset silkscreening, I guess looking at sharp "inside" (white) corners might reveal the effects of fluidity... unless they used trapping. :-)

BTW Nick, that Wright/Lichstenstein connection is golden!

hhp

polkawithfontana's picture

Karlgeorg Hoefer (father of Linotype's Otmar Hoefer) was one of the lead type designers in Germany. Like Excoffon he was very much interested in handwritten type. A typeface that he made in 1965, called Zebra, could be influenced by Calypso. It has the same boldness and the gray parts are not translated to dots like Calypso, but are drawn as thin lines. Typical is also that Linotype did not make a digital font of it, maybe just as with Calypso for commercial reasons. So also there is a similarity. In 2007 P22 made a digital typeface based on the original drawings. A statement you can find on the site of P22: “Hoefer was, and remains, the king of brush lettering in Germany. Nobody even came close”, seems also to point at being the German counterpart of Excoffon.
Check out the site of P22 (http://www.p22.com/terminal/hoefer.html) and the site Otmar Hoefer made for his father's work (http://www.kghoefer.de/English/KgHoefer_Typefaces.html). -Joep

gianotten's picture

Hrant asked what the resolution was of the pantographs Tetterode used to create 'The Lords Prayer."
The answer is: "I don't know."
I started at the Lettergieterij Amsterdam in 1963. At that time the management saw that letterpress would be replaced by offset and hot metal typsetting and manual typesetting by photocomposition. In 1963 LA sold Morisawa and Intertype fotosetters. The importance of the type production was decreasing and the transfer from the old artwork to photocomp artwork just started. Later on LA/Tetterode produced artwork for a.o. AM, Berthold, Film-Klischee, IBM, Intertype, Linotype, Compugraphic, Bobst, Letraset, Mecanorma and the ATF-Hadego Photocomp System. The ATF-Hadego artwork was prepared by ATF, Tetterode and Hadego.
Most of the manuals, most of the artwork and all the Tetterode typface specimen books are now part of the Tetterode Collection. That is part of the "Bijzondere Collecties" of the UVA University of Amsterdam.
See www.bijzonderecollecties.uva.nl
It's in the same building where Warren Lee has his famous book store!
I will try to find an answer on your question.

hrant's picture

Much appreciated.

hhp

brockfrench's picture

Great post.

polkawithfontana's picture

Here a picture from Interrobang Letterpress with a 24 pt Zebra mounted on the press and printed on a sheet. In the second picture an enlargement of this print where you can see that the gray area is made of thin lines.
The metal type of Zebra can still be ordered from original matrices from Rainer Gerstenberg (former D Stempel GmbH). http://www.rainer-gerstenberg.de/


Nick Shinn's picture

Can’t resist posting “Phantom” of 1836:

polkawithfontana's picture

Thanks Nick! In 1836 there was no Benton Pantograph. So cutting punches by hand with lines and equal white spacing between them was not easy ...

John Hudson's picture

Not so difficult: a thin file could be used to cut the lines, which explains their regularity.

Nick Shinn's picture

Engraving burin that produces parallel lines:
http://www.eclyons.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=5&products...
Such could have been applied to relatively soft, blank working metal, then the counters etc., removed, and sterotypes made. This method, of putting the lines down first, would have made it easy to ensure that all the serifs were the same number of lines, and the overshoots were integral. Does that make sense?

Mark Simonson's picture

Type rasterization, 1836 style.

Jack B. Nimblest Jr.'s picture

Nick: "...putting the lines down first, would have made it easy to ensure that all the serifs were the same number of lines,..."

Imagining they were sick of hand work by then, and with the semi-industrial revolution on them, I think they would do anything to "mechanize". I'm pretty sure they knew the dimensions of everything before they started cutting — so, my guess would be they cut the letters on the punch first, or locked up type in a chase A-Z, e.g, and then repeatedly rolled or dragged a jig bearing 19 incisor points along the chase, incising the whole set of punches as the jig above moved along the line. A screw or two could control the depth of the cut, they could proof in place, change incisor depth, type and width, rotate 45 degrees, have a ball, show the boss later when he was in the mood to find out you modified some of his stuff, a little.

polkawithfontana's picture

Nick, very nice site with the burins and other tools to make line shadings. But do you think you could cut as deep as needed for a punch?
That it was not always done with such craftsmenship one can see in the 1827 specimen from Laurent et De Berny (At that time owned by Honoré Balzac). The lines and white spaces are very irregular. Although I think that this was wood type and not metal type. In the specimen this is not mentioned specifically.

polkawithfontana's picture

Or maybe it was done by using a more inventive approach. When you take lines and stack them you can easy cut out a letter. See the illustration where I layered two characters of the Figgins type on top of a line specimen from 1827 by Laurent et De Berny. Of course you have to define the right thickness of lines and white between them.

gianotten's picture

There was some discussion on the sharpness and resolution of silkscreen printed characters on Letraset sheets. The ATF/Hadego Photocompositor has white - silkscreen printed - type on black plastic mats. They are 20 or 48 points and can be enlarged up to 72 point. I will prepare some additional info and illustrations on that subject.

polkawithfontana's picture

Thanks Henk. I only had seen untill now the Diatype discs from Berthold. I did not know that this type of photocomposition also was used. I image that dust was a big problem?

polkawithfontana's picture

In 1910 Berthold bought their first engraving pantograph (Stempelbohrmaschine). As they describe in their publication 'Das Haus Berthold' (The Berthold Company) from 1921, although the Americans had began using it already before 1900, the engraving machine was rejected by the punchcutters of Berthold as inferior to handcutting. After introducing the engraving machine at first only simple typefaces were done on the machine untill it was proven to be good enough to ensure the quality of Berthold metal type.

gianotten's picture

A little bit of dust was a great problem in the beginning. Later on high-sensitive line films came available and the contrast was high enough to get a dark positive headline on film. It was combined with the text and contacted on another film.

polkawithfontana's picture

Henk – It differs from Diatype that it is only made for headings and titles, I think. When you place the black blocks on each other your line spacing will be huge. So I think you have to compose each line apart and by hand?

polkawithfontana's picture

I think this line font with shading was for the engraving pantograph even more difficult than Calypso ...
Dazzle, a Device font from Rian Hughes.

polkawithfontana's picture

I just stumbled over a recently designed dot screen font from John Bomparte. It is called Subliminal BF.
Very readable in smaller sizes: http://www.myfonts.com/fonts/bomparte/subliminal/

Albert Jan Pool's picture

He mentioned also that it probably was printed first with lead type (or maybe phototype?),

Please do not mix up design and production methods for artwork with the production methods for the Letraset dry transfer sheets. I did not mean to say that the sheets themselves have ever been produced from metal type. In some cases, the artwork for the typefaces was based on baryte prints from metal type. This method was not exclusive to Letraset though, the artwork for many typefaces from the photocomposition era was based on baryte prints, which were photographically enlarged and then retouched. Scangraphic has done some typefaces that way and late Bernd Möllenstadt, the former type director of Berthold, told me a few months ago that the Berthold type studio also has been using this method. They even had to work this way for typefaces from their own library because in WWII the Berthold type foundry had been bombed and many (if not all) matrices had been destroyed. At the beginning of phototypesetting, the only access they had to many of their own typefaces was through printing offices that had Berthold typefaces in their type cases.
Concerning phototype setting in the process from artwork to the sheets: I recall someone telling a story that (at least for some years) phototypesetting was used for the production of the films from which the screens for the sheets were produced. After the artwork for a typeface was completed, a 2,5 Inch film font was produced from the artwork with the use of a ‘step-and-repeat’ camera. The 2,5 Inch font was then used to manually phototypeset the artwork for the films (with a machine like the Berthold Staromat or a Dr. Böger Copytype) for the various screens. They had to produce about as much films/sheets as there were sizes to be made available. The production of the 2,5 Inch font was an extra production step, but ‘typesetting’ the artwork (line-by-line) was faster than accurately mounting all letters individually.

polkawithfontana's picture

Albert Jan – Thanks for clearing up some things and writing this story. In my book I mention that Berthold had damage but I did not know that original matrices were destroyed during WWII (just as was the case at Klingspor foundry). So a lot of original material was lost during that war ... – Joep

Albert Jan Pool's picture

I got that story from Günther Gerhard Lange and from Erik Spiekermann (who probably got it from Lange). They talked about the ‘Matrizenlager’ (matrice warehouse) being molten down in the bomb-fire. We have to consider though that for a producing foundry the matrices are the most important part when it comes to being able to keep the business alive, so that is probably also the main part of the story that is being told. For designers, it might be more interesting to (also) look at things such as punches, sample letters (for the spacing), artwork, pattern drawings and settings for the engraving machine. I do not know what exactly got burned and/or molten down, but the damage must have been severe.

gianotten's picture

Yes, that was the disadvantage of the Hadego system. You had to expose line by line. Like the Ludlow. However, in those days most users made their text on Linotype and Intertype machines and the headlines on their ATF-Hadego. In 1960 a Hadego Ultra was introduced with a more acurate filmfeeding systems and more 'kerned' characters to improve the typographic quality.

polkawithfontana's picture

Couldn't resist to buy the smallest book (in 1951) from Tetterode at the Gutenberg-Museum shop in Germany. These pictures belong to the 10 pt letter that I showed before.


polkawithfontana's picture

NEW FREE DOWNLOAD

After comment from John Hudson we reworked the design of Calypso the last couple of weeks. So we removed anchor points, cleaned paths and we looked at every character and reworked it again by looking at material we received recently.

Because the generated .ttf fonts still showed a lot of deformation we decided to make a PostScript (.otf) font –that gave better results and less deformation– with a base drawing of 1000 pt and we generated a TrueType (.ttf) font at a base drawing of 2048 pt (em-square). The otf is 179 KB and the ttf is 322 kb so for larger text amounts and headings that are less than 100 pt the .otf should be good enough. For large display purposes the .ttf font should be better.

The download of the TrueType font has the same name as the previous font so you should replace it before using.

Below in the picture on the left the first design and deformation caused by generating the first TrueType font. Our original drawings had perfect round dots. On the right the reworked TrueType font based on a 2048 pt drawing in the font software. The detail is the above left part of the 'T'.

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