need font for gravestone

lolorelei's picture

im looking for a font for family name on gravestone...
must be all caps 5 letter last name all consonants one vowel
on 4' wide x 1'-8" stone...

its only thing to be carved on stone.

was thinking something along lines of garamond but not looking right ..
too much like 'this is a name on a gravestone'
but i do love garamond.....hmmm

need decision by tomorrow

any suggestions?
thank you..

hrant's picture

No Garamond.
Albertus is great carved.
But: what kind of family is/was it?


v-six's picture

No Garamond.
Hrant, would it be possible to elaborate why you said this for me? I agree with you 100%, I'm just being inquisite (you've gotta learn somehow). There are the obvious reasons: Garamond is everywhere, and it wasn't designed to be carved. Beyond that, I'd like to hear what you have to say. Hopefully you can have a bit of pity on me, I've probably done a whole 5–10 hours of lettering in stone, and don't know that much about it.

William Berkson's picture

Mantinia and Perpetua come to mind immediately, but this is a very personal decision.

hrant's picture

> I’ve probably done a whole 5–10 hours of lettering in stone

That's like a full 5-10 hours more than me. :-)

Dunno, to me Garamond is way too self-conscious to mark -somebody
else's- death, plus the stroke contrast causes things to really be way
too busy (probably because the third dimension is its own busy-ness).
And can you imagine that "g" in stone?! Puke. The only thing worse
is something like this (in Amsterdam):

"Oh, I'm so dead, look at me, look at me!" :-/


Perpetua is great (for the right family).
And Meridien, now that's pure class.
But both probably have too much contrast.


v-six's picture

Hrant, thanks for the response. I can see exactly where you're coming from. Thankfully, they'll be using all caps, so no attempts at the Garamond miniscule g.

If the image you posted is "Oh, I'm so dead, look at me, look at me!" then Garamond would be "Hi I'm dead, what's your name?" Maybe we should make a new thread about what fonts would say if set on a gravestone, or is that a bit macabre?

hrant's picture

Times would say: "I'm dead. Next."


Rani's picture

Would Trajan be to obvious for this? I have always found it bueatiful.

lolorelei's picture

thanks for the responses....
you are right garamond is not good for this...
or maybe anything anymore and not for stone...

i wasnt really supposed to deal with this, i had an amazing slate gravestone carver working on it but cemetery messed up and forgot to mention they only use granite and have crappy people who make terrible design decisions for stones.

sorry to rant.

its for my father actually which makes me unable to have any brain thought/function that makes sense.

i will try the Meridien --

im REALLY trying to avoid the

'here my name is carved on a gray stone- im dead' look...

I just know i dont want generically sophisticated.

thank you.

hrant's picture

My condolences.

How would you (plural) like to remember him?
How would he have liked to be remembered?

BTW, I never knew that stonecarvers
specialize in specific types of stone.


lolorelei's picture

thank you...

i figure its best to give last name to test...


and attaching image of stone proportions----
base is required to be at least 8" H
so many regulations this is best i could come up with and most different from other generic gravstones at this cemetery.

deadline can be pushed to end of week...
thanks to all.

John Hudson's picture

cemetery messed up and forgot to mention they only use granite and have crappy people who make terrible design decisions for stones

This sounds typical. Most granite is machine cut, and the lettering looks just awful. Very few people can cut granite by hand, because it is so hard. The large grey slabs on the back of the Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery in London are some of the only pieces of hand carving in granite I have seen. Michael Harvey designed them, but he hired a much younger and stronger person to cut them. This stonecutter worked one day on and one day off, because by the end of a day of cutting the granite he could barely hold the chisel. It is brutal on the muscles in the hand and wrist.

Speaking of Michael Harvey, his Moonglow typeface (available from Adobe) would be a good, distinctive choice. I first saw these letterforms cut in raise relief on stone by Michael during the 1997 ATypI conference in Reading. The outline style works well very large. There are also a good range of weights and widths in this family, so getting the right balance for the stone will be easier. In the mockup below I've used the semibold extended.


This is a difficult decision to make for a close family member. I hope some of these comments are helpful.

v-six's picture

My condolences as well.

by the end of a day of cutting the granite he could barely hold the chisel
I will vouch for this. It does quite a number on your wrists.

Rani's picture

The font is Minion. I feel the T and the R are more relaxed then corporate and all the serifs are smooth rather then sharp which gives the font a calmer quality rather then a 'look at me' one.

raph's picture

Also consider Centaur - it definitely has the elegance and traditional appearance similar to a Garamond, but has much more (subtle) calligraphic character.

Unfortunately, the Monotype digital version is crap (sorry, I'm kinda tired of being nice about this, especially as the Monotype folks have not yet answered my latest email to them), so if you do decide on Centaur, ask me and I'll give you a copy of my version-in-progress. I'll probably need to draw some more glyphs (esp. for the numbers), but this would give me the motivation to dive back in.

privateortheris's picture

Centaur would be a good choice - the serifs have the stone carved look already. Eric Gill was a stone carver of note, and Perpetua (already mentioned) and Golden Cockerel show that influence in the cut of the serifs. Sort of traditional in a good way. This is, after all, carved in stone.

Miguel Sousa's picture

Have you come across Richard Kindersley's work?

One year ago I attended the seminar "Pen to Printer" organised by The Edward Johnston Foundation and I was completely blown away by his "Standing Stones" project. (This man gives life to stones!)

hrant's picture

If you'd like a classical feel, a font that's always
struck me as having superb caps is Iowan Oldstyle: _
The black weight, spaced out, would have a fitting girth and weight I think.


timd's picture

My condolences, I second Hrant's proposal, Albertus does have an affinity for stone.

dberlow's picture

I too am dealing with this same issue. My decision was simplified by the fact that my father served in ww2 and so a plaque, made by the Army, will stand in addition to the family stone. Slyly, I found the font the carvers call "Govt. Std" just needed to be taller and not too, and now the two stones match.

But I would not choose from my fonts, or indeed from any fonts the the carvers are not familiar with, Unless you're going to Fud and Co., (aka The John Stevens Shop) or some other truely typographically inclined carver(s).

lorp's picture

I think Storm's Bahnhof has potential for gravestones. I recommended the lightest weight to a friend for her father, but I don't think she chose it. Unfortunately the particular letters “STERN” look weak in this face.

lolorelei's picture

thank you for all of the suggestions,
i am going to test them...ill keep you posted on decision..

thank you

John Hudson's picture

Hrant: If you’d like a classical feel, a font that’s always struck me as having superb caps is Iowan Oldstyle

I'll second this. I had John Downer paint my house number sign using Iowan Oldstyle numerals (a slightly modified weight, between the regular and bold). David's comment about finding carvers who are typographically inclined is important. Also, have you confirmed whether the granite will be handcut or machinecut? In either case, you should ask to see samples, and look to see what kind of details are well handled and which are problematic.

lolorelei's picture

I do like the iowan old style...

the only question is will it work being machine cut...(which is surely what they do)?

dezcom's picture

To me stone cutting is all about the craftsman. Finding a real stone cutter with skill coming from the heart is the hard part. There are lots of sandblaster guys around who will just use a template. If you can find a guy with real old-world skills, work with him and ask his advice.

To me, the busier the font, the less likely it is to work carved. I would stick with short serifs. The shadows and highlights of the v cut will give the feeling that the serifs are bigger than they are. The rest is all about the person you are remembering. What feels right for their personality? Would a more relaxed straight make sense or a more formal rigid line?
I guess that wasn't much help since I did not give you a specific type but I can't without knowing the person.

My condolences on your loss,


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