Need period typeface suggestions

joannah's picture

What would be some options for typefaces, other than Fraktur, that would represent 19th-century Russia?

George Horton's picture

Paratype Elizabeth is a Modern face based on the Latin types of the mid-18th century Russian Academy of Sciences.

oldnick's picture

Almost any classic typeface would do (Bodonia, Caslon, Garamond), but definitely NOT Fraktur, which is a decidedly German typeface.

joannah's picture

Thank you, George, for your suggestion. It works well and the client liked it. A good combination!

Best regards,
Joannah

dan_reynolds's picture

which is a decidedly German typeface.

Up until the late-19th century, fraktur was the main style of type used in Denmark, Sweden, and the Czech lands. It was used quite a lot in the Netherlands, and even a bit in the UK and France, not to mention Switzlerland and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This ridiculous idea that fraktur is a uniquely German phenominom is a 20th century construction.

Noordzej evn points out that Fraktur itself is a French, or rather Burgundian invention, contrary to what German historians tend to believe.

But Joannah is right, I think. I'm assuing that fraktur—or any blackletter—wouldn't be a fit for 19th century Russia.

When a traditional or modern serif isn't what you are looking for, what about a fat sans serif? Or a slab or clarendon? I know that there are Cyrillic versions of these now, but I don't know when they came on the scene. Would it be anachronistic to use a Cyrillic clarendon for a 19th-century purpose?

George Horton's picture

Yes. Cyrillic Clarendons were introduced I think after WWII, when they corresponded nicely to the brutish mediocrity of late-Stalinist Russian culture.

dan_reynolds's picture

What about other 19th century advertising faces? Faces that still lend themselves well to display? What trends carried over to Russia before the revolution?

George Horton's picture

Rubbish condensed grotesques, from German-owned companies, were used for advertising. Reforma - what an irritating name - is a conspicuously pointless revival of this breed in, we are told, characteristically Russian form. I can't see it. The closest typographic fit in general use to 19th century Russian high culture would be something like Monotype Walbaum: of the period, originally German, and readable.

hrant's picture

> This ridiculous idea that fraktur is a uniquely
> German phenominom is a 20th century construction.

Altough "uniquely" is indeed too strong, Germanness is certainly a central feature of the contemporary perception of fraktur. And weren't you the one who singled out Germany as the country where people wouldn't touch fraktur with a 10-foot pole? Not that Poles get as tall as Dutchmen. ;-)

hhp

dan_reynolds's picture

And weren’t you the one…

Yes. But just because many contemporary Germans perceive Fraktur (and really all blackletters) as being German (i.e., "bad German) doesn't mean that they are right (on either count)

I mean, really; if everyone in a country's believing in something made it right, then…

hrant's picture

... democracy could work! :-/

Yes, you do have a point. Now please think about it more.

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture

Sorry for the late post, but I had an idea which I thought might be interesting beyond the immediate context of the request.

There are certain Cyrillic characters that have features which correspond to typeface styles in western fonts.
So, if you use any 19th century Latin face which has such a style, it will look slightly Cyrillic. For instance, these Cyrillic characters don't have straight legs, so don't use a typeface which has similar Latin characters that are straight-legged.

Again, Cyrillic has many characters which have a strong emphasis along the baseline, x-height line, and cap line, so use a Latin typeface that has a similar emphasis.

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