Companions for Centaur

ginapaloma's picture

Any suggestions for a sans serif and/or script companion to Centaur?

brampitoyo's picture

How about something along the lines of Gill? Yes, it's a humanist sans so there is a connection to Centaur somehow; but it's also, in a sense, a geometric sans that'll provide the needed contrast.

On a side note, I've found that FF Kievit (my new favorite sans!) works well with almost any Garalde out there.

Stephen Coles's picture

Many sans and scripts will work. What's most important is what combination will work best for your particular audience and content. Tell us more about your project.

Palatine's picture

None. The current Centaur we have is a very poor digitization. Of course, you might think it's nice, but if you only knew how this beautiful face was meant to look . . .

j_polo9's picture

how is it meant to look? Any reproductions/ photos/ stories?

ginapaloma's picture

Oh *blush*, I do like Centaur...

However, I'd be open to other suggestions for what to use instead (like maybe a nice pointed pen, easy to read text with lots of nice ligatures?). Slightly different direction, I know...

Context-wise, I'm a Freelance Pre-Press Artist/Illustrator, and I'm wanting to redesign my resumes/invoices/other materials. I love type/letterforms, but am far from being an "expert" at identification, etc; I'm here to learn.

Thanks for the suggestions, Bram! I did try Gill, but it wasn't quite right. I'll look into FF Kievet...

Thanks to everyone for their help.

brampitoyo's picture

Hmm, if what Palatine saying is indeed true (I haven't had too much experience with Venetian serif, only Garalde), then what about changing your Centaur to Jenson (many versions are abound) or the less used but still beautiful New Winchester (although there's a lot of criticism surrounding its digitization.)

ginapaloma's picture

I have to say though, I guess I'm a sucker for oldstyle numerals...

Okay, I can switch to Jenson. Any objections to Adobe Jenson Pro? If there are no objections, what are some favorite pairings for a sans and/or a script?

Thanks so much you guys!

Why are decisions for self-promotional materials so much harder than decisions for someone else? Aagh!


typequake's picture


With all due respect, a "poor" digitization of Centaur is still ten times better than a lot of recently designed typefaces. There is nothing inherently wrong with it, it's just that we could have had something much better. (By the way, my son recently picked up an abridged version of Narnia, set in Centaur, probably because there are centaurs in the book!)

Just because Bringhurst and Dean Allen pointed that out to you doesn't mean Centaur is unusable.

Now for companion -- Centaur for titling works well, so perhaps you don't need one?

ginapaloma's picture

In fact, I had set everything completely in Centaur (using the oldstyle figures with small caps and swashes as accent)...but I'm just not crazy about my name (Gina Rossi) in Centaur, any way I seem to set it, which is why I was looking for a different script complement.

Miss Tiffany's picture

Since this is for personal work, and I gather you want to set only your name in something different, what about a script? More character than a sans. More identifiable.

Gina, on a side note, one thing I always do when testing a typeface--as vain as it may sound--is to set my name. :^) So I understand your desire to find a face that you think your name works in.

brampitoyo's picture


I'm just curious if there's any thought on why you chose to set your materials in a Venetian serif in the first place.

ginapaloma's picture

Actually, no...

I studied Illustration in school, and am one of *those people* who don't know enough about the history of type–I only had 2 semesters of Typography at Pratt, during which we did more hand lettering than learning about the history of it all (a shame, but that was covered in a different class, which was assigned to the Design majors). I hope to learn more from you guys, so that I will be able to make more educated choices (instead of just "ooh..that looks nice!").

In the meantime, I hope you won't get annoyed by my newb-ness.

brampitoyo's picture

Strangely, no matter how educated and historically accurate your choice may be, in the end it's all back to whether the face actually looks good on the page and if it can work for that specific application.

Design is, after all, an industry of taste; so have fun with it.

So is this a personal identity project, then? Or something else?

fontplayer's picture

I knew someone who set books in Centaur metal type, and they were some of the most beautiful printed material I have ever laid eyes on.

bokkah's picture

centaur is a possibly a poor choice for a post modern designer's promotional text. Unless your fortay is renaissance style... highly doubt it. I just don't see a link to centaur and the cause to use it here. If there's any reason to use this font please unlighten us.

ginapaloma's picture

Well...I'm not exactly a designer, rather an illustrator.

The end product will be letterpress 2/2 on 180# Winstead (dual mounted), and I'm looking for something with an old book feeling, or something handtooled.

As a side (yet related) note. I've recently fallen in love with the Dearest Swash/Script set

If a type suggestion happened to complement, I'd be thrilled about that too!

Miss Tiffany's picture

Letterpress can change the tone of the most stubborn typeface. I'd be willing to bet the qualities we dislike in Centaur would disappear (for the most part) once letter-pressed. Where it is spindly it will be rendered more bold, where it is crisp it will be made soft. Letterpress is the perfect answer for seeing a typeface in a whole new light.

brampitoyo's picture

Aye! Now we're talking about an entirely different creature!

If it's indeed your intention to go all out on the printing side, why not locate a press that still possess Centaur matrices and have them print it? I know that a small place in Portland set their letterpress stuff on Bembo, among many others; so, really, the possibility of finding such printer is not that hard.

Ooh, I can't even imagine to think how beautiful would Centaur's italic look on letterpress!

ginapaloma's picture

Great idea...I'll ask my printer (hopefully he'll have it, since I'm sort of locked in to using specific vendors for this job...calling in some favours ;-)

I'm indeed going balls-out on the printing of this stuff.

BC's will be:
Printing & letterpress 2/2, PMS 396&271 on dual-mounted (triplex a possibility) 180# Winstead, colored edges using PMS 396.

Some of the specs I'd already mentioned, but thought I'd give the full run-down.

Wow, I'm relieved you guys have had a change of heart on Centaur...I'm glad I don't have to totally start from scratch on this, as I don't have a ton of time...although, I was ready to do it.

Thanks again to everyone; this forum definitely is greatest thing I've found all year.


brampitoyo's picture

No problem. Originally, I presume that everyone was under the impression that your job is going to be set digitally -- until you mentioned "letterpress". In my opinion, it truly changes everything, from being able to get a more faithful version of Centaur on metal to getting that warm, charming look on print.

After all, ginapaloma, in a world where offset and gravure run the cogs of commerce, taking part in the creation of a letterpress ephemera is every typophile's dream -- a romantic one, we can say.

Speaking of which, your color scheme is really interesting. I've seen a color similar to PMS 396 used in a small press' short-run bookmark, but I never saw the likes of PMS 271. I would love to see how it all worked out.

londontype's picture

Goudy Sans might work nicely - has similar Venetian forms.

j_polo9's picture

Can't wait to see how this job turns out. Make sure to get good photos of the finished project, and not to send all of it out but keep some good coppies in your shop/ portfolio!

Palatine's picture

Letterpress. Well that does change everything.

When you're done, compare your version to the digitized version.

typequake's picture

"Letterpress. Well that does change everything.
When you’re done, compare your version to the digitized version."

Where have you seen Centaur used lp?

Thomas Phinney's picture

I have to agree whole-heartedly with Palatine. Letterpress Centaur is a thing of beauty. (I don't know about him, but I've set a wee bit of Centaur letterpress.)

Many typefaces are just better in their metal incarnations, actually. Palatino for one. But Centaur is an especially striking example.

I'll also second the Goudy Sans idea. It's available in foundry metal, and I think it might be quite interesting paired with Centaur.



inferno's picture

Legacy Sans is based on the Jenson's letterforms and pairs very well with Jenson, so might be a good companion for Centaur, which was also based on Jenson's roman.


inferno's picture

As someone with a shop full of Monotype Centaur, and having printed many fine items with it, I can say it is a joy to work with, and an even greater joy to read.

But why take my word for it. See for yourself what the Bixlers (typefoundry) can do with it:

Palatine's picture

inferno, that looks fantastic. What a sight.

I wish someone would redesign digital Centaur, much like what was done with Bembo-Book.

ginapaloma's picture

Great, I'm excited to do this project now. I definitely should have known to mention I was lp-ing the dang thing, apologies for the oversight. I can't wait to *feel* it, let alone see it! (I'll post a high-res pic for you guys too)

Thanks also for the suggestions of Goudy Sans or Legacy Sans, I'll play with them tonight.

Inferno, thanks so much for posting that link! Thouroughly inspiring...


track and kern's picture

how about Minotaur.

brampitoyo's picture

The image that ran through my mind when I saw Goudy Sans was, among many others, Mr. Morris and the Kelmscott Press.

I'll suggest pairing the Golden Type with that :)

fontplayer's picture

Btw, I just remembered the printer in Fullerton who did his own books in Centaur was William Erik Voss. His shop was called Bella Fortuni.

I took this photo in his shop:

In some sense, this might be considered a picture of things that are not pictures of things. Unless, of course, Eric Gill was full of hooey.

Thomas Phinney's picture

Although Legacy Sans would be a fine design to pair with Centaur, it isn't available in foundry metal form.

Is this being set in metal, or are you going with photopolymer plates?


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