High contrast font from pre-digital book cover

nina's picture

Hey guys, this is from an old-ish Italian paperback. Unfortunately I only have the cover page, so I can't say for sure when it was printed – but it's definitely pre-digital.
Does anybody recognize this, and/or know if it exists in digital form? WTF didn't know.
Cheers!

nina's picture

Two things I forgot:
1) This is a photo, not a scan, so please ignore/excuse slight distortion.
2) Suggestions for similar fonts also welcome. FWIW, I'm especially intrigued by the "k" and "y".

eliason's picture

Similar structure appears in Red Rooster's Bodoni Black Condensed, but it's, um, condensed.

bowfinpw's picture

I am not at home with all my type books, so I was limited to searching my Serif Guide online, but I found some similar looks. The only one with a funky k and y similar to these was LSC Condensed, which was an old ITC face (digitized in old Image Club collections). However, the other details of this face are nothing like your sample. Other sort of similar high contrast faces that have digital versions: Arsis, Big Figgins, Didoni, Falstaff and Modern Heavy Condensed. Most of these had the similar y, but not the k. Most also have the 'a' with a curved tail.

Maybe Mark Simonson will know, since his book collection is probably better than mine anyway.

- Mike Yanega

nina's picture

Thanks guys! That's a start.

Craig, the one you mentioned is rather similar indeed structurally, except maybe for the "b".
Mike: Great pointers. LSC Condensed (this one, right?) has a wild "k" indeed! :-) I can see the curly-armed "k" seems to be quite rare, at least more so than the "y" form above.

Hmm… I'm beginning to wonder if this is even a font. Although there is an "il" to go with the "kybalion" and I left it out because the "i" and "l" really look like they're the same; on the other hand, the letters don't seem to be lining up perfectly (as can be seen in the foot serif of the "l" above). Hm.

bowfinpw's picture

Yep, that's the font.

Looks like Mark Simonson may be online here, and maybe he knows a closer match.

- Mike Yanega

Mark Simonson's picture

This didn't ring a bell at first, but I found it in one of my old type specimen books. It's Normandia, released by the Italian foundry Nebiolo in 1951. I don't think it has been digitized.

(Note: There is a similar face with a similar name called Normande, but it's not the same face.)

bowfinpw's picture

See, I knew you would get it Mark.

- Mike Yanega

bowfinpw's picture

I found this, showing it's the work of Butti & Novarese.It's not the whole font, but I think this shows the right 'a'.

- Mike Yanega

Mark Simonson's picture

Yep, that's it. Also, it's from 1946, not 1951 as I stated above.

nina's picture

Wow, awesome! Thank you very much, Mark (and Mike).

So Normandia only ever existed in metal? What a shame!
If I ever have too much time… ;-)

nina's picture

PS: This seems to have been quite a family. I found listings of a "corsiva", a "strettissima" (condensed?), and even a "contornata" (outlined? I wonder what THAT looked like!). The dates seem to differ a bit between different sources.

One strange thing is that Global Type doesn't just list the medium as "B" (Blei = lead), but also "T" (Truetype) for the regular and italic, and for the outline version "F" (Fotosatz = phototype) and PS (PostScript). I wonder where that information comes from – or where it may lead. All the other sources I've found said nothing whatsoever about digital versions.
(BTW I'm not urgently needing this for a current project or something; I'm just very intrigued.)

Mark Simonson's picture

Here is what's shown in Jaspert's Encyclopaedia of Type Faces:

A few of the letters seem to be broken (the "C" in the first line, for example).

nina's picture

Oh wow! Thank you so much for taking the trouble, Mark. This is interesting stuff! Funky, yummy and partially deeply strange (like that "8", which I'm tempted to call ugly). Oh, and funny how even the capital "K" is curly-armed. :->

bowfinpw's picture

I'll need to add that one to the Serif Guide. I've been slow about adding pre-digital fonts, but when they come up here at the Board, that will usually get me to add it.

- Mike Yanega

eliason's picture

The bracketing on the thins (asymmetrical on the diagonal thins) is interesting (e.g., AMNWXY). Look at that N!

dezcom's picture

That is a beauty. I hope you digitize it, Nina!

ChrisL

nina's picture

Chris, I was hoping somebody else will! I need 48 hour days already… ;)

Cristobal Henestrosa's picture

Beautiful font. C’mon, Nina! You don’t need to do it right now… Next week, maybe? ;)

Florian Hardwig's picture

Watch out for Ingeborg!
;D

Jan's picture

Nice. But it doesn’t have the curly-armed “k”. Nina would never draw a typeface without the curly-armed “k”.
;-)

nina's picture

Haha. You read my mind, Jan.
;-)

dezcom's picture

k sera sera :-)

ChrisL

William Berkson's picture

This is a beauty. I wouldn't want whatever happened to the lower terminal on the cap C to happen to me, though. Ouch!

Florian Hardwig's picture

Hey, you can always try talking Michi into adding some funky-curly alternates!

eliason's picture

(For the record, I meant "asymmetrical on the vertical thins.")

That outline 'ffl' lig is insane, too.

nina's picture

I've been wondering about those ligs too, especially "fl" and "ffl" – I find it strange how they left the ball terminal of the "f" "melt into" the following letter, and it ends up looking a bit like a wart growing from the latter. But maybe that's just me. :)

johnnydib's picture

in the case of a revival, should the 8 be "fixed"?

Cristobal Henestrosa's picture

> in the case of a revival, should the 8 be “fixed”?

Loooong discusion. I think yes: there’s no point in repeating the same “mistakes” (if the revivalist thinks there’s a mistake to fix). I’d go for a functional-pretty-coherent font, even if that implies some minor changes.

After all, there’s no such thing as a true revival (another loooong discusion).

Mark Simonson's picture

I would give Alessandro and Aldo the benefit of doubt on that 8. Just because it doesn't follow the usual model doesn't mean it's wrong. Maybe they considered it an innovation and it just never caught on. Maybe they thought there was something lacking in the typical fat-face 8.

nina's picture

Dilemmas like this, decisions between historical accuracy and one's own eye, are one reason why I'm not sure I'd be capable of making (or wanting to make) revivals. I have nothing against this "8" structure in general, but with this sort of contrast it seems to look very odd. But yeah, maybe it's a matter of familiarity.

BTW, looking at this again: Given that the original sample was in fact printed from metal type (which it looks like to me, not that I'm an expert), isn't there a *lot* of kerning going on? That "kyb" sequence is pretty impressive.

Mark Simonson's picture

At least two possibilities: It was set with a film composer, such as a Typositor, or the designer adjusted the spacing with a razor blade on the paste up.

Stephen Coles's picture

Hey Nina. Still have this book cover? I’d like to add it to Fonts In Use, along with other Normandia uses I am posting soon.

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