Van Dijck revival

schickele's picture

I’ve discovered a Van Dijck revival I didn’t know:

(The whole document can be found here.)

It seems to be a better version than the Monotype one (see this discussion). The PDF info panel shows “VanDijckBookBQ-Regular / Italic / ExpertBQ-Regular”, but I can’t find anything on the Berthold font site. Does someone know anything about this font? Is it still available for licensing?

billtroop's picture

There are quite different text and display versions (reflecting substantial differences in the metal) (making this one of the first digital families with 'opticals' to use that ghastly Adobespeak). It's miles better than Monotype's own, very poor digital adaptation. Berthold's photo and digital adaptations of Monotype faces are, by and large, much better than Mono's, but there must be some sort of licensing difficulty which prevents them from being sold. I guess the only way to do it is to get an existing licenseholder to transfer his or her license. But it won't be me! Interestingly, I couldn't get the pdf you reference to render on Acro 8 Win 7. The design of the display (i.e something like 16 pt) version is much, much, niftier! With enormous and utterly gorgeous ascenders. A fabulous type to use for large text.

Bendy's picture

Wow, interesting and beautiful. The italic cap N is special, but I'm very much not sure about the italic parentheses!

schickele's picture

Thank you for the informations, Bill. A pity they are good digital fonts around here you cannot license anymore for some reason.

schickele's picture

For the sake of completeness, I would like to mention two other revivals of Van Dijck here: Custodia from OurType and DTL Elzevir.

k.l.'s picture

If you have access to it, there is an article by Max Caflisch on the Van Dijck in Typographische Monatsblätter 3/1997, mentioning both the Monotype and the Berthold digitizations.

billtroop's picture

Here - - sorry not to have it better - - is the Display cut, as set in . . . . TextEdit. Not the easiest font to use, I'd say. Worth it, maybe, but definitely a lot of work for the designer. This being Berthold, there are of course no f-ligs. Like I've often said, the easiest thing, sometimes, as well as the best, is to get someone to set your piece in Mono metal - - which can be, surprisingly enough, not that expensive.

billtroop's picture

Worth noting as a footnote, van Krimpen's opinion that van Dijck should not be revived as being too difficult to get right either philosophically or practically. I must admit I find that the spirit of van Dijck seems singularly absent from the spiky, narrow, and strangely Victorian-in-feeling Elzevir and the plodding, humourless, charmless Custodia, which looks like Quadraat crossed with Adobe Garamond. The problem is van Dijck. Everyone who has revived it has been phenomenally talented, phenomenally well-informed. Yet somehow the typeface slips out of their grasp.

schickele's picture

Thanks Karsten and Bill! I actually find Elzevir looks surprisingly good as magazine font (for example in “zeitzeichen”). I’ve never seen Custodia in use.

billtroop's picture

I agree that Elzevier is one of the crispest digital types available, and especially good at small sizes. And beautifully implemented, beautifully fitted. There's just something about the mood . . . .

John Hudson's picture

Thanks for that display cut image, Bill. The weight difference between the upper- and lowercase is extreme.

billtroop's picture

Well - - and the italic seems too dark and too tightly spaced.

It would be interesting to see some informative (extensive!) comparisons between the metal and Berthold digital. I think the general feeling about Mono Van Dijck is that it was one of their more flawed revivals. But you would have expected Berthold to deal with those problems. Why release Van Dijck at all if you aren't going to get it right? One would really like to know Berthold's approach to the revival, why they did what they did and who they expected to use it and why and when. Is there anyone still around who would know? I would hesitate to guess anything - - . It's hard to imagine Berthold saying 'this is freaky, we love it, we don't care what you think - - up to you to figure it out.' Given the cost of producing one of their photo typefaces - - well, they simply must have thought it out.

It's interesting puzzle to try to figure out what is wrong with a typeface that almost, but doesn't quite, make it. And it's quite possible that something that looks dreadful as shown here could somehow just work when used by someone who had figured out how to use it.

John Hudson's picture

Bill, it's possible that Berthold's Van Dijck might have been produced at the request of a particular customer, as happened more often during the metal, photo and early digital period than we might think. Compared to the cost of the typsetting machines, development of a new type family was relatively inexpensive, and would sometimes be undertaken in order to seal a contract for purchase of the machine. [A good example of this was Mike Parker's commitment to provide Greek versions of any Latin typeface requested by Linotype's Greek sales rep in the 1970s, supporting a practical monopoly in the local typesetting machine market.] If this were the case, then it is also possible that the project had external deadlines that might have affected the quality of the revival.

billtroop's picture

I think you could be right on this one. I'm still so hypnotized by the Berthold PR . . . but the fact is, they did do a lot of careless work, as I've discovered whenever I've dug deeply into the library. I guess it's like everyone in type - - sometimes you get it right, but mostly you have to compromise because there just isn't enough time. Also, I haven't compared this to photo, and it is just possible that the digital conversion was very badly done. What baffles me here, though, is to find so many things done right among so many done wrong. Why?

John Hudson's picture

I suppose the other question to ask is what their sources were? Were they looking at Elsevier originals? For what sizes did they have references, and for which were they making stuff up and extrapolating?

JanekZ's picture

This is sample of ca 8pt Elsevirs original, printed 1661 (see

BTW what sign is in a rectangle? (rectangle is mine)
What a fancy Et!

cerulean's picture

Wow. It's definitely an italic x followed by a colon, but how it got sideways, whether it is that way on purpose, and if so what it is meant to represent are all mysteries to me.

Arno Enslin's picture

A shorthand for 20 (or 30)?

riccard0's picture

Could it be a χ? Or an א?

Syndicate content Syndicate content