Yves reviews Fleischmann revivals

William Berkson's picture

Over at Typographer Yves Peters, in response to requests from typophiles, including this one, reviews Fleishmann revivals Mercury, Farnham, Fenway, DTL Fleishmann and Eudald. A thoughtful and insightful review that was obviously a lot of work. Thanks Yves!

Overall, it seems that Yves admires the audacity and stylishness of Farnham, but favors Mercury as the most usable and elegant version.

Any thoughts from other typophiles who have used these?

Maxim Zhukov's picture

I first saw Fenway in 1998 when it was submitted to the very first TDC type design competition. I remember what struck me then was the larger-than-usual height of its small capitals which were very strongly drawn, and, of course, its excellent figures. I must confess, it did not feel like a revival at all...

I used Fenway twice: in 2000, in typesetting the Reports of the [ATypI] Country Delegates, and in 2002, in designing Language Culture Type (see John’s post above). In both jobs those small caps and figures worked wonderfully.

The optimal size range of small caps was one of the important features that was studied and discussed in the process of developing the multilingual fonts for the MS ClearType Font Collection. It felt that the larger s.c.—of the Fenway kind—could work better across all three scripts that constitute the MSCT character set (Latin, Greek and Cyrillic).

Bert Vanderveen's picture

>What was Fleischmann thinking?

I think that the period he was living in was quite remarkable (at least in his younger days). Science and arts were in full swing, there was excitement in the air - discoveries were made, inventions done, improved communication made for greater awareness of what happened everywhere, etc.
So F. may have felt part of this movement to Enlightenment and could think outside of this constraining box of "I have to make a living" and tried to have fun doing his job, pushing the boundaries, being creative, trying to lift the level of his craft, showing of to others ("Look what I did!") -- in other words, behaved like a prima donna of typecutting.
And that is what made him a genius of course.

(For a great, though perhaps not always historically accurate view of the period, read Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle. Three wonderful books.)

Joe Pemberton's picture

[ Moderator comment: Someone suggested that a moderator delete Hrant's attack at William in this thread. With apologies to William, I think I prefer to leave Hrant's comment there in its stinking, festering form so people can see for themselves who is behind it - a guy who otherwise seems to be knowledgeable and helpful. I'm tired of pushing the steaming wheelbarrow behind Hrant. ]

Nick Shinn's picture

>Change is good. Strain builds character. And maybe if/when Jonathan goes to the trouble of elaborating further,

Hrant, on the one hand you say you want Jonathan to participate, and on the other, in the guise of a compliment you patronize him with amateur psychology, suggesting that his character is weak because he is stuck in a rut. Then you imply he is lazy because he can't take the trouble to elaborate further.
Perhaps that's not what you meant, but that's the way it comes out.
For goodness sake, quit fronting and "address the content", nothing more.

You have to resist the impulse to editorialize, it's a can of worms. Please stop telling people how you feel, how they feel, why they're doing what they're doing, why they believe what they do, and what they should do to improve themselves and their work (unless they ask). I apologize for this advice, it's the last time.

Chris Rugen's picture

While I lack the training to contribute to a deep analysis of Fleischmann's types, I am learning a great deal by reading (most of) this thread. I'm fascinated by the perspectives given and am adult enough to make my own judgements about them (since they are, after all, individuals' perspectives, not hard-set Truth). Many of the lurkers here are just interested in an honest discussion with tactful/respectful phrasing, as it's my understanding that this is why Typophile is here in the first place.

It may be hard to see, but there truly are more open minds than open mouths here. I'd love to see this discussion continue on course, and I encourage everyone who's participated to continue contributing to the main thread of debate and discourse.

hrant's picture

Joe, you might also note that the guy(s) on the other side are nearly always middle-aged Anglo males. My point isn't necessarily that there's something wrong with that demographic, and certainly not with every member of that demographic (that would be racism), but that the problem is much broader than single individuals; we are largely products of our circumstances, and our little squabbles are the ripples on the surface of things that are out of our hands. Now, this certainly doesn't remove individual responsability (and that's why I realized an apology was needed - because it was the right thing to do on my end), but it does create a further responsability of not demonizing individuals, not matter how cozy that makes us feel; that's a sure way to perpetuate problems.

> on the one hand you say

All I can say is: I'm not a box.

> You have to resist the impulse to editorialize

While should succumb to the temptation of actually addressing the content. Please.

> there truly are more open minds than open mouths here.

Nice expression.


> outside of this constraining box of “I have to make a living”

This is in fact quite relevant here I suspect. One thing I've been meaning to ask people like Jonathan (who have spent way more time than me analyzing the history and dissecting the forms) is something Andy brought up years ago: after making the #65, why did Fleischmann revert to more conventional forms on occasion (if not consistently)? The only hunch I have, based on the detailed "development" tables in the Enschede specimen books, is that he made the #65 on his own (it was a size in a style that he thought was needed), or at least without external "art direction", while some of the later works were specifically commissioned, presumably by people who said -or at least were assumed to think- "I want a 'normal' font in this size, for this use, etc." I wonder if this hunch holds any water. If not, then it becomes possible that Fleischmann was just an indecisive fellow! :-/


Chris Keegan's picture

Whoosh - the sound of ballot #2 dropping into the box...

Maxim Zhukov's picture

> I’d love to see this discussion continue on course

I thought this thread was about Johann Michael and his progeny, not about Hrant... And I tried to contribute to it.

paul d hunt's picture

Whoosh - the sound of ballot #2 dropping into the box…


i've been following this thread, not because i have anything to add, but at points it's been rather insightful. i thought johnathan's comments were particularly so and hrant, thank you for your comments on design. we don't even hafta get along, but can we please put all pettiness aside and remain on topic? thank you.

And I tried to contribute to it.

Thank you, Maxim.

not picking on you, chris, but that was a last straw for me

TBiddy's picture

>>They don’t understand the anger somebody like me can feel, so they have trouble absorbing the resultant lapses of control. Lucky them.

Yeah, Hrant...well I might. To purport that anyone on the face of the planet can't understand your pain and suffering...spare me (us) the martyrdom. Poor me, I'm a Black man in a white man's world, 25% of Black adult males have been to jail partly because of socio-economic standards and flaws in our education system.

Crack-cocaine (blue-collar drug) carries a harsher penalty than cocaine (white-collar drug).

African-Americans in the United States have never received reparations for slavery. Educational standards in the United States are drawn by property lines leaving many in ghettos (primarily African-Americans) to go to school with a substandard education.

I can keep going on...but give me a break!!! What does ANY of that have to do with type? What any of us feel politically have nothing to do with Typophile. (Unless the thead calls for it.) I have only been on Typophile for over month, but I have witnessed you in virtually every thread I've read insult others or speak in a high and mighty tone. Your "anger" as you call it, is misdirected. No one faults you for anger, but when you take anger and create negative energy with it, there's a problem. Martin Luther King and Gandhi felt anger...and they channelled it in another way.

If you have such a problem with the west then get out of the country. While I know Nick Shinn can more than speak for himself, the remarks you often throw at him are as racist and elitist as the causes that you are so against.

There's a band called System of a Down that I'm sure you know. They're heavily active in Armenian genocide organizations. If you need a specific example of how to channel your anger, listen to their music and pay attention to their social activism. They don't wear it on their sleeve.

There really is no excuse for being cruel. You owe everyone a SINCERE apology, not a half-hearted one.

Nick Shinn's picture

Thanks, Terry

hrant's picture

> To purport that anyone on the face of the
> planet can’t understand your pain and suffering

Yes, that must have been what I meant when I wrote "most people here"... In fact most people on this planet can understand pain and suffering way better than me* (and certainly you**), they're just not on Typophile... I wonder why... Like you say, this is a "white man's world"; actually it's much more narrow than that; how is it "insulting" to suggest that somebody from my background will naturally have/cause problems here? Now, it is up to me to control that; sometimes I fail; but I try to apologize. And I try to make up for it by adding what you might call "positive energy" in return, and an energy decidedly on-topic!

* Materially I live very comfortably. If I didn't, I'd probably cause your system real touble. Like those pesky Palestinians.

** BTW, maybe you're not doing enough for your own people? Have you considered that your "channeling" might in fact be more like dilution, to save yourself the aggravation? Maybe you're angry at me because I'm indirectly making you feel guilty? Maybe I'm stopping you from shutting out your people's problems?

> What does ANY of that have to do with type?

Everything has to do with everything. Compartmentalizing reality is one way the system maintains itself. But very often politics doesn't have enough to do with type, I admit. On the other hand, a lot of my work in Armenian type is in fact motivated by cultural/political realities, and needs. Would it better for me to design exclusively for... Hollywood for example?

> Your “anger” as you call it, is misdirected.

Yes, it often is. I am sorry for that.
But I'm not alone, including on Typophile.

BTW, I know Serge personally. He's a great guy, but don't assume he feels free to express every single thing on his mind in song. Sony wouldn't have signed him if he did; but he has managed to find a way to get some of the message out, much more than I ever could. But he has more talent than me in his field, plus Rock gets a little bit more exposure than type...

> You owe everyone a SINCERE apology

I regret making that post. For me, that's as sincere as it gets. Maybe you're used to politicians making promises and apologies, but I'm not a politician. I'm not a showman who gets voted on/off. Typophile is not so crass.


Now for a really crazy idea: follow Maxim's strategy. He doesn't need to agree with my behavior (in fact you can be pretty sure he doesn't) to actually talk about type. Carl is wrong :-) if all else fails, ignore me.


TBiddy's picture

>> Maybe you’re angry at me because I’m indirectly making you feel guilty? Maybe I’m stopping you from shutting out your people’s problems?

This kind of comment doesn't even warrant a response. Low-blow, and you know it.

BTW, its "Serj" not "Serge".

>>>I regret making that post. For me, that’s as sincere as it gets. Maybe you’re used to politicians making promises and apologies, but I’m not a politician.

Thank you for the apology. I however, didn't make any assumptions about you, I would think you'd be kind enough to extend others the same courtesy.

This is all I have to say. I will not lower myself to the level of petty name calling. If you prefer, by all means, continue belittling others.

TBiddy's picture

You're welcome, Nick. ;)

Nick Shinn's picture

Another thought on Fleischmann's idiosyncrasies.
They do stand out, because the idea is spottily applied, not evenly distributed throughout the typeface. But is that such a crime?

He was ahead of his time -- by the mid 19th century, there were many decorated faces that had strange details, but applied throughout.
Admittedly, this is not everyone's cup of tea: Oz Cooper was really down on it, thinking it was rather precious to take one feature and pound away at it -- he preferrred variety in details.
Even today there are some faces which manage to integrate a great deal of peculiarity within the general theme -- Quadraat for instance -- it's much easier in an old-style serifed face.

Idiosyncrasy is no big deal. How about Tarzana or Eplica, with their cap E that looks like a flipped 3?
That kind of thing may be unacceptable in the publication market that the Schwartz, Carter, and H&FJ "Fleischmann's" are targetted at (am I right on that?), but it is nonetheless legitimate.

If I were doing a Fleischmann revival, I would probably take the "quaint" details and spin them out a bit further throughout the face.

hrant's picture

> But is that such a crime?

More than that, I put forth that it was entirely careful and intentional. Not "spottily applied". And not some stylistic frivolity. That doesn't seem to make sense for somebody living then, a punchcutter in that position, somebody with such amazing technical skills (like in optical compensation).

Yes, he was ahead of his time, but not in an eccentric way.
I think he was ahead of our time!

> How about Tarzana or Eplica, with ...

I don't think the sort of strangeness in his #65 can be seen anywhere else.
To me it seems a lot deeper than anything we've ever seen.


Chris Keegan's picture

I think the original question that William put out there was for input from folks that have actually used these typefaces. Personally this would be of some real use to me.

We could debate ad nauseum about whether or not these revivals (again - some of these weren't meant to be true revivals) go far enough in exploring his ideas and not just his forms, what his intent was, etc.

I had been looking at licensing either Mercury or Farnham. It would be nice to hear from some people that have used these faces on real-world projects. Is anyone out there?

William Berkson's picture

I’ve been away from the computer for a while, and now return to this thread. Wow.

Hrant, the scene of you visibly driving away a valuable contributor
to Typophile with your insults made me forget my own manners. My
criticizing you harshly to a third party as if you weren’t here was
rude of me, and I apologize for that.

>We’re insulted by different things; you’re not more human than I am.

Hrant, we’re all human here. We are all hurt by insults. I have
suffered, along with almost everyone else on Typophile, your
continual insults over the past two years. If my rude post above is
cruel – and it was and I apologize for it – then aren’t the hundreds
of yours as well? Please have a little compassion for Typophiles and
show some “decency” in your speech.

Probably I especially rouse your ire because I directly criticize you
for your rudeness. Well, I won’t anymore. This is my last post on
this subject, and I will stick to innocent subjects like type and

>As for William, to me he primarily represents a lot of the things
wrong with the West, things that are causing my people grief (and not
just 90 years ago).

Hrant, I am just a human being like you. Categorizing people (me
included) as a ‘representative’ of some general evil, like
Fascism and rape, is a way of dehumanizing them, and excusing the
cruelty to follow, in this case your verbal abuse.

Folks, just so there is no misunderstanding: On Typophile and
elsewhere throughout my life I have defended democracy, individual
liberty and tolerance. I hate Fascism and rape and have never said a
word in their defense.

William Berkson's picture

Returning to topic.

I find interesting that both the type designers of these "revivals"
and Yves, who reviewed them, are much more interested in modern type
inspired by old models, rather than a strict revival, such as DTL

Thanks to John and Maxim for their interesting comments on Fenway.
The Fontbureau site does have examples of the use of Farnham, but as
Chris says, it would be great to hear from some who have used it.

Bald Condensed's picture

I've (alas again) had to cringe my way through half of the posts here, so if you don't mind I'll address the questions I find most relevant in the introduction of my next Bald Condensed, like I usually do. Expect it somewhere next week. Sorry Tina. ;-)

parker's picture

Thanks Yves. that's ok ( i can wait). but start a new thread :)

parker's picture

...and... Hrant thanks for the sample.

hrant's picture

What's with that lc "o"?


enne_son's picture

As a latecomer to this forum I have to ask: what were Fleischmann's ideas on readability? Was he explicit about them? Did he articulate any in writing?

If Fleischmann's ideas are in his things (cf. William Carlos Williams: 'no ideas but in things') can we presume to know them with any certainty? Which sets of his things embody them most fully?

In relation to Yves' review and Jonathan Hoefler’s reflections on his own process, I find it interesting and instructive to observe how the Fleischmann corpus spawns different but recognizably descendant offspring--descent with modification--responding skillfully and intelligently to different, equally vital, ecological pressures, some personal preferential; some niche, marketing, or demographics based; some cognitive-scientifically constructed.

Peter Enneson

hrant's picture

Fleischmann left us with nothing explicit (that I know of).

> can we presume to know them with any certainty?

What's "any"?
More interesting is "enough".

Different people have different tresholds for crossing over from assumption to action. Some people might limit themselves to thinking "huh, isn't that curious", while others will say "well, if this is what he was thinking, and he was da man, let me try it too". Especially if one has had his own thoughts along those lines. Admittedly, there's the danger of reading too much into it, seeing what one wants to see. But really, can that actually hurt anything here? I mean, it's not like Fleischmann's descendants will complain.

> Which sets of his things embody them most fully?

Good question. I think it's most useful to look at the fringes; at the stuff that's hard to explain (but done with full cognizance). Specifically in this case, the #65. The strangeness in the #65 can't really be a "mistake", can it? And if it isn't, what is it? We must try to explain. And I've only managed to think of one possible explanation: divergence to improve readability. I wish people with more talent and skills than me would see that too, and revive that aspect of Fleischmann. But it's hard to sell.


fi's picture

lol bump

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