What to mix with Copperplate Gothic

spark's picture

I have a challenging book cover project for which I did a contemporary calligraphic brush title. I am co-designing or consulting on the overall layout of the cover and font choices. The title is now final. Early layouts tested Lithos and Optima for the subhead directly below the title, and now people are leaning towards a version of Copperplate Gothic (no serifs).

It's not bad, but what to put WITH it is challenging. What is the vernacular with this font? Serif fonts like Bodoni or Times have been tried but seem to have no relationship at all and are jarring. I'd love thoughts on this.

spark's picture

Hmmm, ok so this question apparently doesn't light anyone's design fire. Maybe I'll re-post with a more general but equally burning question about vernacular in general. But focused on Copperplate and its 1400 variations. Surely there is someone out there who is a fan of this face and how to mix it into contemporary design?????

spark's picture

Thank you so much! I did do a search for articles before posting but missed this one. It is just amazing to have such a resource here at typophile. I went to all the links, and was fascinated to learn more of the history of the face and the obsessive connection people have to it on the Speak Up Archive. The conversation about what makes a font used or "tired" is pretty eternal. I have always loved Copperplate and considered it one of the eternal greats. But I'm hugely outnumbered.

As I looked more closely the font the designer is considering is bafflingly like CP but without serifs. I had thought there was a sans serif version out there but can't find it, so I have no idea now what it actually is. Which opens up the box of vernacular in another way: what does it do to the idea of family or logical historical relationship/context when something is old but stripped of some essential identifying feature? Years ago a young designer came to me to show her book, and I couldn't fathom the font choices. When I asked why she had mixed the particular stew together she told me it was "on trend." The conversation sort of stopped there.

I'd like to learn a lot more about the design philosophy that guides other Typophile members in their choices of what to companion with what. I'll do some browsing, but if someone can send me to specific previous threads that would be great.

typerror's picture

Iskra... can you post the title?

When I do exactly what you are doing I look at the title and define in in terms of its characteristics and go to the opposite side of the spectrum for a "spouse." I.e. contrasts.


spark's picture

Good idea! Unfortunately right now it is in development, and I probably shouldn't. But it is a brush calligraphic script. Soft subtle italic, not too fancy. Sets off well with sans serif snuggling up, but then they wanted a serif contrast below the sans serif Copperplate mystery font, and it seems to me maybe a serif font that is soft and influenced by brushwork would be good. That would relate back to the title style. I could use some suggestions for fonts that have some calligraphic relationship to contemporary scripts styles. My font base is old--Trajan and Hiroshige are not going to cut it for this century!

typerror's picture

O.k... there has got to be a way around this. In order to recommend something can you give us one or two letters from the titling that exudes the character of the lettering?

How bout that for getting around the full disclosure : )


Bert Vanderveen's picture

Maybe totally off base but an old favorite of mine: ITC Novarese.

. . .
Bert Vanderveen BNO

William Berkson's picture

>I had thought there was a sans serif version out there but can’t find it, so I have no idea now what it actually is.

Engravers Gothic is like Copperplate Gothic, but without the tiny serifs. Also Sackers Gothic.

I agree with you that Copperplate Gothic can look great--or tired--it just depends on how it's used...

Kris Sowersby's Feijoa has nice soft serifs, but I really don't know if it will work with what you have. Also there are outright calligraphic romans like Brioso and Alcuin.

kentlew's picture

> Engravers Gothic is like Copperplate Gothic, but without the tiny serifs. Also Sackers Gothic.

As is Blair. Originally advertised by Inland Type Foundry in 1900, predating Goudy's Copperplate Gothic by three years. Later part of the ATF library when Inland joined ATF.

Jim Spiece did a digital version for ITC back in the 1990s.

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