Mamillius, an Aldine book type

George Horton's picture

This Aldine lowercase has been partly repaired after disastrous alterations, but I no longer think it has sufficient intrinsic character to be worth going on with.

Current Mamillius.pdf9.69 KB
ebensorkin's picture

I found this Essay:

Have you read it? If so, what did you think?

ebensorkin's picture

I finally found the face I had been looking at in that Moby Dick. It was Goudy Modern.

Now I will print a PDF of it & get to work.

George Horton's picture

I had read the essay, but it doesn't exactly pull the scales from one's eyes: the merest child could have produced its structuralism of revival and the varying opinions of it, and a hypereducated child with a little knowledge of the development of early 20thC book types could have rattled through a Griffo case study.

What an interesting comparison you make with Goudy Modern. It's true, but it shouldn't be; and attempts to narrow and lighten Mamillius have just shown it to be totally hollow, a useful failure.


ebensorkin's picture

When you say narrow & lighten you mean compared to the weight it had before - right? I just want to be sure I follow you. Why did you want to narrow or lighten the font in general? Was it to make it for a larger pt. size?

What struck me about the Goudy modern is that while it felt 'period' from an aesthetic point of view & somehow there fore superficially 'worked' in the context of reading Moby Dick, ultimately the 'w' overpowered the letters around it, was distracting & compromised the word shapes. And there are dozens of similar problems.

At some point, to be fair I aught to point at some fonts that I think lack these problems or which I feel exhibit virtues I would suggest for your font.

I think I can hear that you are dispirited. I am sorry about that.

I agree with your assesment of the essay, but not being a student of Aldine faces in particular I wondered if it covered any ground basic to your project. It sounds like it did albeit in a manner that isn't useful to you now.

Given your face's similarity to Goudy Modern, The obvious question seems to me to be - how do you feel about these period letter designs & spacings? Are you primarily interested in maintaining the flavor that can be achieved by what is essentially a kind of revival? Or do you care about the integrity of word shapes I am concerned with? I think that to make the changes I have been advocating would mean loosing some fraction of the flavor you have had. My point of view is that it would be great to make a face that maintained alot of the flavor you have now but which used contemporary insight to resolve word shapes better and enhance reading.

I am still looking at your stuff, but given your posts I thought I aught to reiterate the purpose I had in mind to see if it matched yours.

George Horton's picture

Hi Eben,
I'm afraid I don't think there's any point going on with Mamillius, at least for a while. Were I to start again, I would do it differently, and much more as you would wish (also with a more rigorous set of central formal ideas), but I haven't time.

Goudy Modern isn't really a revival - its "flavour", including odd horizontal proportions and spacing, is Goudy's imposition of his ideals on a histoorical style which was never so irregular. I agree that Goudy Modern, as is the case with even California Old Style at large sizes, is tiresome to read long-distance. I don't approve of that kind of flavour.

In addition, I doubt there are many new insights into readability - I think, for instance, that Griffo's lowercase letterforms for the Hynerotomachia are more, not less, readable than those of (excellent) metal Bembo; the seeming narrowness of some letters ensures more even white within the word-image, or would if the press-work were better. 13/14 letterpress Poliphilus, though the design shows crudities not present in Griffo's original, is the most enjoyable reading I know.


hrant's picture

I can't be sure if either starting Mamillius or stopping it was a great idea, but it certainly takes balls to do the latter, when you've spent so much effort on it. Respect.


ebensorkin's picture

I totally understand deciding to put a project down - especially if you have decided that the ideas that originally informed the project are no longer ones you can get behind. Not fully grasping your current ideas & insights I can't say I approve or disapprove ( not that I have a say ) but Like Hrant I respect your choice. It can't have been easy. I aught to confess that I have discovered that some of the faults I was finding with your font had to with my printer not with your font! But in general it's true that I find the GoudyModern-like direction gets tiresome over longer reading. I would have been keen to peek over your shoulder if your had decided to reform your face in one way or another. The material is new enough to me to be very interesting. Since I will not have that oppotunity ; would you be willing to show me some of the examples ( or point to them on the net or in books) you are referring to? I would also appreciate any additional insights you have or erecomendations on source material.

Looking around for Hynerotomachia Pholiphili references I found these:

This is fascinating. It's amazing how cohesive and pleasant the text looks in the images - but how seemingly imprecise & irregular the spacing & shapes seem when viewed closely.

Hrant, do you get this effect too? How do you explain it?

Chris Lozos, see the g in that last example? Line 7 middle of the page. It's the oly one like it and it was probably broken metal - but it made me think of you and your g's!

ebensorkin's picture

Also, just for anybody like me who is looking put some puzzle pices together, there is a related thread here:

hrant's picture

Eben, I'm sad to say that I haven't been following this closely enough.
I've read most everything in the thread, but haven't taken a close look
at the font itself for a while now. Sorry.


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