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

polkawithfontana's picture

I found interesting information about Calypso at Skyline Type Foundry that seems to have matrices from Dimension, a copy of Calypso. According to him it are rip offs that were probably made in Japan for Chas Broad's Typefounders of Phoenix. He further writes: 'Interestingly, they are all stamped with the name “Calypso” except the 48pt, which is stamped “Dimension”. We cast and offered the 24pt in March of this year, and it was a colossal dud!' (It is not strange that the 48 pt is not stamped Calypso because the biggest size from the orignal Calypso was 36 pt –Joep)
Before they were bought by Sky they were bought by Los Angeles Type Founders (LATF) from Typefounders of Phoenix. Below page 4 of the 'Antique Types' (not dated) specimen by LATF. Interesting is also that they offer also figures that were not included in the original Calypso. I asked today Rainer Gerstenberg who has the original Calypso matrices but he writes that there are no figures available from Calypso. Were they made in Japan?

It is funny that as you can see the D, N, B and C are upside down. How that could happen I don't know because you can't do it like on the computer. Maybe they were delivered to the (Japanese) engraver on film and that he took the wrong side of the film copying them?

polkawithfontana's picture

Finding the 'Dimension' from Type Founders of Phoenix gave some new insights as you can see below. Profonts Calypso seems to be a copy of the Phoenix version but the mirrored characters were noted except one ...
See also: http://www.linotype.com/653967/CalypsoStdRegular-product.html


The version above the Profonts Calypso is from the Skyline Type Foundry pricelist were you can still order this metal type.

polkawithfontana's picture

Still researching I found more ...
In the 55th Anniversary Edition of the standardwork Encyclopedia of Typefaces from Jaspert, Berry and Johnson the Calypso also is present on page 258. This is a reprint of the last revised fourth edition of 1970. In this picture also some strange things happened. In the first row the K is forgotten but the B, C, D and N are correctly printed. However, on the second row something strange happens with the G and H!

hrant's picture

Nice investigations!

hhp

polkawithfontana's picture

Does the world need you?


Polka Design, 1 May 2013 (in the morning)

polkawithfontana's picture

Today we make our Calypso complete with ornaments (in French ornements). These ornements where also presented in the 1958 specimen of Calypso. On the fourth page (back page) a number of ornaments where printed. I have never seen them on the market or know of special made matrices. It can be presumed that they where made by turning the metal letters. It would have taken some work to position them in metal type. So now we made a font of the characters presented on this first specimen. We made it easier to type them because we have positioned the characters in the middle of the cap height in the ornement weight of the font.
The TrueType ornement font (also based on 2048 pt design) is now included in the download. An example of the characters is also included as PDF. The typing is easy: the counterclockwise rotated character is placed under the uppercase key and the clockwise rotated one under the lowercase key. Some characters like K and A are placed normally and under the uppercase key they are rotated 180°. The second L (that is normal) is placed under the bracket key and the rotated version you can find under the other bracket key.
Have fun!

polkawithfontana's picture

hrant, we had before a discussion about the accuracy of a pantograph engraving. I just read 'Das Schriftgießen' (Letterfounding) from Walter Wilkes published by Technische Hochschule Darmstadt in 1990 (a wonderful book!)
According to Wilkes the accuracy of the Benton Pantograph is 0.005 millimeter. –Joep Pohlen

hrant's picture

That's about 0.2 mil, which is much lower than any number I'd heard... At that resolution you probably didn't need to touch up tight corners manually (something we know took place, at least among foundries who cared) since ink bleed was more than that amount. Maybe that number is referring to the mechanics, without factoring in the thickness of the cutter? I'm pretty sure the cutter was the "resolution bottleneck" since it was prone to breakage (plus the smaller cutter you use the longer the work takes).

hhp

polkawithfontana's picture

I think that you must separate two things. Accuracy is something else than making the smallest detail. As you can see below (in the drawing) you can work with different tools. One tool on the left to make the large flat parts. That tool can be large as well and flat at the bottom with a large diameter. The other tool has a sharp point and gets thicker to the top to make it a stable working tool without to much vibration and with enough cutting capacity. With this tool you get a bigger radius when you go further into the material. You see on the small engraved metal letters from Tetterode with a whole text on a 10 pt letter that they are not deep engraved to reach this detail. When you engrave deeper as done on the second picture below you have to sharpen the corners manually as you can see in this picture where a machine engraving gets the finishing touch.


hrant's picture

Nice explanation.

hhp

polkawithfontana's picture

A picture shows more than 1000 words. Here some examples of engravers cutters. You can see in the table on the right that the tip diameter can be extremely small (0.001 inches). Depending on the diameter of the shaft it can quickly get bigger. So I guess that for removing the biggest shunks they used a big cutter and for the detailed work where you had to remove less material a cutter with a small shaft. I think that the fact that you had to rework the punch or matrix was for a lot of German typefounders the reason why they began to use the pantograph engraver much later than in America. In America around 1893 and for instance Berthold began to use it in 1910. They had the idea that the letter got a mechanical look and you still had to finetune it after engraving. It was more the idea of craftsmanship that played a big role. It is the same as in around 1986 when typesetters and graphic designers had the idea that typesetting on the mac was not as good as the other (also digital) forms that where used on the Linotronic, Scangraphic etc. More a mindset than that it was reality.

polkawithfontana's picture

To show the difference between hand engraving and machine engraving I made two pictures. The first is a picture from the book 'Souvenirs brouillés du Palais typographique' with photographs from Olivier Doual from the material of the l'Imprimerie Nationale in France, published by Des Cendres. You can see that the counter of the letter on this punch almost looks like it is shoveled out. And it is ...


In the second picture a detail of the 36 pt Calypso where you can see the huge difference in machine engraving. All surfaces are smooth and even and you can see also that the smaller details and dots are engraved less deep to keep as much the sharp corners you want. You can also see the conical angle of the tool in how the diameter of the dots grow to the base.

polkawithfontana's picture

Because we were still thinking that with a bigger original we could still enhance our Calypso we ordered a 36 pt fresh casted alphabet with apostroph, dash and point. And as we thought there were details we did not see before in the 24 pt version. So if you like you can download version 3 of the Calypso PF and Calypso PF Ornements.
http://www.letterfountain.com/extras_e.html
In the image you can see the 36 pt 'D' from the Olive Calypso.

hrant's picture

Amazing.

Am I the only increasingly getting a machine-made vibe from all this?
What are the chances Olive had a computer? Pretty close to nil I presume.

hhp

polkawithfontana's picture

Hrant– What I learned during this process was that mechanical is better than on a computer! Of course you can draw perfect dots in Illustrator (or Freehand) but in font software your grid only has 1000 pt in the normal situation. So the software forces anchorpoints on the available grid and almost no dot is round anymore. That is why I had to choose the 2048 pt grid that would create a much to heavy font for use in large text books for example. You maybe can't get it out of your printer or at least a lot slower. For a font like Calypso that is used only for headlines this should be not a big problem. However, also in this large version, when you would blow up the letter you will see deformation because it still forces the anchorpoints to the 2048 pt grid. With a normal typeface that has almost never perfect circles this is not a big problem but you will always have some lines slightly of your initial drawing.
So what is the nice conclusion of this, just because you have no restriction with a grid: MECHANICAL IS BETTER

PabloImpallari's picture

Joep,
Sticking points to the grid is a FontLab limitation.
But not a limitation of the font format (otf/ttf).
Both Glyphs and RoboFont supports decimals coordinates.
http://typedrawers.com/discussion/comment/2109/#Comment_2109

polkawithfontana's picture

Pablo, I will study that solution you suggest. I see in the link that there is a lot of discussion about whether or not you can work around the grid. I will download a trial of the 1.4 version!
However, I found it a relieving thought that sometimes things were not so bad in the metal age. It was a lot of work composing even a single page but sometimes in the fast an even faster layout and print culture of today (when you want even alltogether in a single day) you maybe can believe that people with or without an burnout begin to look back to the time everything had to be checked three or four times before getting it on paper because it had to be perfect. Maybe in the time of 'slow food' we will get also 'slow printing'.

hrant's picture

Joep, don't confuse mechanical and digital; a computer can still control a pantograph.

Also, when digital is of sufficient resolution the advantages trump the disadvantages; see digital cameras for example (which were lousy at first).

Pablo: You don't need to move away from FontLab - you can just use a higher Em. And I personally don't trust fractional coordinates - they often set up an illusion that ends up biting you.

hhp

polkawithfontana's picture

Yes of course Hrant. All over the planet metalworkers prove what you are saying. Our aluminium cases of our Imacs, Macbooks and Ipads are made with computers that control CNC machinery on a high level of accuracy.

But with fonts we are not talking about a certain simplicity in construction that is mostly the case with metal work. I talk about the PostScript language that has to translate all information on a page in 1 and 0 digits to the printers were a limit is in memory and the deformation begins. I think that you also have had problems in the past when you made an Illustrator drawing with to many anchorpoints. When your printer has not enough memory to store the description of the PostScript file it will simply not print. I have had it several times and sometimes changing the printer brought some relief.
And that has always been the heel of Achilles (I hope in English it is a good statement) of computer generated pages. And that is why the grid in font software is restricted to a certain amount of points. So you get a distorted letter like in my case with the Calypso on a 1000 pt grid. Because the mechanical method has no grid restriction it can be exacter than the digital font. Of course other things like worn bearings or shaking of the hand that leads the pantograph can bring distortion but in theory it is is more precise.
Look again to my magnifications of the metal type and enjoy the detail ...

Té Rowan's picture

IIRC, the datatype used to represent coordinates in TTF is fixed 16.16, meaning that a 1,000-dot em would be a 65,536,000-subdot em. Erk.

polkawithfontana's picture

To complete my story about Calypso I ordered a set 24 pt and 48 Pt Calypso/Dimension at Skyline type Foundry who took over the matrices of Typefounders of Phoenix as I wrote before. I thank Sky Shipley for his quick shipment and his efforts to find the 48 pt metal type he had and which was ‘old stock’ and was casted by Charles Broad when it was still Typefounders of Phoenix.
As you can see in the pictures below the 48 pt version of Dimension is actually the same as the Olive Calypso 36 pt, which was the biggest version Olive produced in metal type. The 24 pt version of Skyline is actually the 20 pt Olive version. So I prosume that the range 20, 24, 30 and 36 pt of Olive became 24, 30, 36 and 48 pt in the Dimension version. The 48 pt was not mentioned in the brochure I showed before.
It is not as strange as one can think. The Didot point used in Europe was 0,376 mm (0,0148 inch) and the Pica point used in the US was 0,351 mm (0,0138 inch). Not to confuse of course with the computer pica which is 1/72 of an inch. So the body of the metal type of 36 pt from Olive is 13,54 mm and the metal body of 36 pt in the US is 12,64 mm, So about 1 mm or 0,0394 inch less high. So the 36 pt does not fit on an American 36 pt metal body!
As you can see a part of the 48 pt metal body is not used. Also the Dimension ‘N’ is upside down. I placed it upside down to compare the form and dots better. As you can see the detail is a lot less than the one from the Calypso.
The second picture shows the ‘A’ which is not upside down (compare with the ‘N’). But here some creativity was used on the cross bar of the ‘A’ by engraving an extra line.


polkawithfontana's picture

Here another picture taken from the side. I think that the copy is not made by electrotype but by etching from a (copyproof) film that is taken from printed matter. I think that that is why there is a lacking in detail and deformation. I think that you can see it also at the convex cone beneath a dot at the Dimension on the right. The Calypso on the left is much more the result of mechanical engraving I think. As i said before etching could also explain the flipping of some characters. What do you think?

polkawithfontana's picture

Also as a completion of this thread an overview of three versions of Calypso that you can get at this moment (leaving out the Calypso Boy and the metal version from D. Stempel/Olive). The Skyline box sticker contains all characters of the Calypso/Dimension in metal type available. On this sticker I placed a red dot at the characters that are flipped. In the digital version of the Profonts Calypso only one character is still flipped as mentioned also before in this thread. Note also that Unger made an alternative version for the zero. In the Skyline version it is the same as the ‘O’. The 1 is a flipped ‘I’ both with Skyline and Profonts. The 4 had no eye in the metal version of Skyline and looked quite dark because of that. Unger made it a better match. Also the 6 in Ungers version is better in my opinion than the metal version of Charles Broad (Skyline). Although I think these additions are not matching in even grayness with the alphabet Excoffon created at Olive. I think you can see that clearly on the box sticker of Skyline.
The shown version of Unger is not complete and has more signs and diacritics than I have shown in the picture below. A complete character set can be seen on http://www.linotype.com/search/Calypso#6abad67f4cff65a7aa3a8f0bf4f162c6
In have no full printout of the metal version of Olive Calypso so I could not complete the pictures below with that.


polkawithfontana's picture

Although I closed this thread for myself a week ago I today received a specimen that I could not resist to place on this forum. It is called Mr. Antique Volume 10, Ornate & Antique Type by Typefounders of Phoenix. I earlier showed a similar colored specimen by Los Angeles Type Founders that took over Calypso/Dimension matrices from Typefounders of Phoenix.

The type specimen shown here is probably from the early sixties. The information on page 2 says: 'These type faces are from the early 19th Century from the Old Type Foundries of ...' followed by a list of American type founders like Bruce, Barnhart, Dickinson etc. Olive is not mentioned in this list but beneath every specimen the former foundry is mentioned.
As you can see in the picture beneath the Dimension is written: 'A French Styling of the Late 19 Century'. As we know the Calypso was a new design by Excoffon from 1958 so it was only a couple of years on the market when Typefounders of Phoenix made a copy. Together with the mirrored characters and the typo in the first line I think it is a gem and real 'camp' of the sixties.

polkawithfontana's picture

I mentioned earlier in my post http://typophile.com/node/103339 that I thought that Excoffon maybe got inspired by the 3D cartouches that were made in the nineteenth century. I have another clue that can support that. In Caractère Noël 60 the picture below can be found in the story about Excoffon. This cartouche did he make for an advertisement. The only thing that it is not dated and it could be made after he made the Calypso. But still the fact that he used a modern form of a cartouche in his type specimen of Calypso indicates that he had special interest for that art form.

hrant's picture

Nice bit of analysis.

BTW what's a good definition of cartouche? I consider it a roughly cigar-shaped enclosure for some text, but maybe that's too tight.

hhp

polkawithfontana's picture

The first time cartouches were seen were in Egypt. The oval frames in the top picture. They are architectural frames. But you can even see them on the Rosetta stone, of course cut out in the stone! The map with sheets that contain drawings of cartouches I showed before in this thread were inspirational drawings for architects. So it were 2D drawings that were really meant as 3D examples for cartouches like you can see in the picture on the bottom. In this example it is made from wood but mostly they were carved in stone. You can find them all over Europe but mostly in France and Italy. The interesting thing is that, as you say, you can also find them on cigar bands and more luxury goods were they have also a blind embossing and are in fact also a 3D representation.

polkawithfontana's picture

The interesting thing however was that Excoffon turned it around. He made cartouches that looked like 3D but were meant as 2D. Just like he did with Calypso. In the picture below you see some more examples of how he was experimenting with that concept. But more to fool the eye than to make it too serious like the old cartouches we used on our postcards. It is a bit like M.C. Escher did. Do you really see what your brain tells you?

In fact, I read that the name cartouche comes from the Italian ‘cartoccio’ that means ‘rolled paper’. It was the form of rolled paper or leather that was carved in sand stone. It was used around a round window, as a frame for the founding year of a building and as a frame for text. During the years they became more extreme in form and appearance. Excoffon went with his cartouches and with his Calypso back to the early form of these cartouches, that of rolled paper.

hrant's picture

BTW did somebody already mention this?
http://ilikecalypso.blogspot.com/

hhp

PabloImpallari's picture

Just found this, and thought you guys will like it... 1869 Karl Klimsch

Arthus's picture

Wow, that's beautiful. Also bit late, but thanks for the Calypso digging, makes a great read!

eliason's picture

Wow!

PabloImpallari's picture

Paul Lloyd attempted a digitization of the previous sample
http://www.dafont.com/saraband.font

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