Phototype italics?

blank's picture

When perusing old phototype catalogs, I was surprised to notice how many typefaces had no true italics, just mechanically slanted versions, sometimes this is even the case for serif faces. Was this done because the foundries assumed people would just mechanically slant faces and did not offer italics/obliques, or because the typesetters were keeping profits up by not buying the italic/oblique fonts?

charles ellertson's picture

When you say "Phototype," which technology are you referring to? The Phototypositor & clones? The photocomposition machines from Linotype (like the VIP) & the other manufacturers? I used a photocomposition machine that employed a rotating disk negative system with a lens system, and there was no way to "mechanically slant" characters. You wanted italic, you bought the italic font -- though usually, it came on the same disk as the roman & you bought it perforce.

Mark Simonson's picture

It was done with special lenses. From the point of view of a lot of typesetters (the people, not the machines), the ability to slant the characters was considered an innovation, a time-saver. It was something you couldn't do with metal type. Same with condensing and extending. To a lot of people, though, especially type lovers, it was a cheap trick and something to avoid. This is still true of digital type, even more so because so many people who set type now (just about anyone with a computer) don't know the difference.

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