Fists / Indexes

John Hudson's picture

Recently, I was asked for the first time to include a set of fists or indexes in a font, i.e. pointing hands. As someone whose skills and work do not usually involve figurative illustration, I found this quite a challenge, although I'm now quite happy with the slightly gaunt and ascetic result (now I look at it, I realise that somewhere in the back of my mind was an Eric Gill wood engraving of a pair of hands joined in prayer).

The exercise started me pondering a few questions:

What is the earliest exemplar of the typographic fist/index in use?

What are some designs by my contemporary colleagues that include this character?

And what are some favourite fists/indexes?

Here is my effort, for the new custom types for the academic publisher Brill:

5star's picture


I haven't done any fists or idexes for fonts but I have added to the world's pointing hands with this pointing hand graphic (there's a fill version too) I did for an Indigo Book store last Xmas...


The pointing hands were mounted on a steel pillars at about four feet up from the ground and the blue 'stars' were mounted ten feet up from it on the same pillars.

Andreas Stötzner's picture

If I recall correctly, early examples are known in the context of Garamond-time typefaces. The first one in my image is drawn after such a model, though I haven’t the source at hand now.
John, the pointing finger in your sample may be *a bit* long.

Here are some sorts I’ve drawn over the years:

nina's picture

There's also a «☞ Manicule» Flickr pool:

eliason's picture

There are some examples of drawn fists (including one on a Gutenberg page) here.

Looks like the information from William Sherman's posting linked in one of those earlier Typophile threads appears in Sherman's book, too.

Many of the Dadaists loved manicules. One of my favorite uses appears in Tristan Tzara's "manifesto on feeble love and bitter love" from 1920. Marcel Duchamp put one in his last major painting, Tu M' (or rather hired a commercial artist to add it).

John, I agree that that hotdog of a finger could be scaled back a bit.

oldnick's picture

a few more...

Nick Shinn's picture

I suspect these are rather masculine.
Will try for a female hand next time.

John Hudson's picture

Andreas: early examples are known in the context of Garamond-time typefaces

Notoriously, Garamond's had six digits.

BeauW's picture

My way past retirement age print teacher (who was a printer, not a typographer) insisted that the fists were called 'bangers'. But whenever I use that word, designers say I'm wrong. Anyone else ever hear them called that?

Steven Acres's picture

Traditionally, typesetters/printers called exclamation points "bangs" (for obvious reasons), which is where "interrobang" comes from (interrogative + exclamatory).

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