Century Schoolbook - What's What?

I'm considering using Century Schoolbook for a book project and looking into the Century type family has left me a bit confused..

Whilst going through samples of different 'Century Schoolbook's in use and what's available here at school, there seems to be stark differences between some of the different Century Schoolbooks I've found. I.e. Bitstrem Century Schoolbook compared to Monotype Century Schoolbook looks very different in continuous text.

Looking around at the Typowiki and Wikpiedia page on Century didn't help either. Any information on the different 'Century Schoolbook's would be appreciated. (i.e. What was actually improved on in New Century Schoolbook if that was the cause behind the design?)

Lastly, what are opinions on a good Century Schoolbook for text? I'm leaning towards Bistream's version, feels heavier and sturdier.

Thanks!

oldnick's picture

Not to disrespect you in any way, but why is any of this important? Bitstream's version is a truer reproduction of original Morris Fuller Benton-designed foundry type; the Linotype and Monotype versions were probably originally developed for linecasting machines. However, if one version looks better than another to your eye, then all the rationale in the world shouldn't affect your judgment.

jonathanhughes's picture

It's "important" because he (sorry if I got that wrong) asked a detailed question, and that's the kind of minutiae we talk about here. While one version of Century Schoolbook may look better to him, there might be someone on here who has experience using the exact versions he's talking about, and can give insight that might not be apparent just by looking at Bitstream's and Monotype's websites.

When it come right down to it, none of what we talk about on here is "important", but it would be a pretty useless discussion board if the answer to every question was "who cares? Do whatever you want."

Mark Simonson's picture

New Century Schoolbook was made around the same time as Helvetica Neue and several other recuttings by Linotype. The biggest difference that I can recall, compared to "old" Century Schoolbook, was that the family was expanded to four weights. Ironically, only the two weights it shares with the old version are available currently.

Nick Shinn's picture

Century Schoolbook is a quite generic Modern face.
Would one consider Excelsior to be a member of the Century family?

oldnick's picture

It's "important" because he (sorry if I got that wrong) asked a detailed question, and that's the kind of minutiae we talk about here. While one version of Century Schoolbook may look better to him, there might be someone on here who has experience using the exact versions he's talking about, and can give insight that might not be apparent just by looking at Bitstream's and Monotype's websites.

My answer was predicated on Thomas Aquinas' dictum, "De gustibus non est disputandum"; that is, matters of taste cannot be argued, non-apparent insights notwithstanding...

William Berkson's picture

You will probably be interested to read Juliette Shen's analysis of Century Schoolbook. She has scans of the originals there, so you can judge for yourself what is most like the original, if that is what you are looking for.

Century Schoolbook looks best large, where it looks very strong and rather attractive. For normally small adult text, Century Expanded I believe has been used more often.

jepetterson's picture

The link above does not work 4 me. Here a few more:

http://typophile.com/node/34046
http://typophile.com/node/13574
http://cg.scs.carleton.ca/~luc/history.html (scroll down to Century)

(Can someone fix the search function on this site?)

William Berkson's picture

My link is to a PDF, it should work to download the PDF. You can also go to TypeCulture.com and find the essay there.

Nick Shinn's picture

The link does work, but you have to hit the "enter" button, don't just leave the URL sitting there.

***

Re. Juliet's essay:

People often describe movements in typography borrowing terms and concepts from the history of art, but this circumscribes categorization, omitting that which is unique to typography. Juliet describes Century Schoolbook as ATF's original "legibility" face; Cheltenham was also informed by knowledge of reading research (the lesser role of descenders in character recognition), as was Clearface, of course and the Linotype news faces of the Legibility program (Ionic, Excelsior, &c.). The design movement such faces represent, Legibility, is an important characteristic of the early 20th century.

Despite the dominance of historicism at that time, the Legibility movement was an expression of the progressive, socially-minded forces at work in North American society, and just as the simplicity of Arts and Crafts was germane to the emergence of Modernist minimalism, so the Legibility movement contributed to its functionalism.

Centre spread of trade brochure launching Excelsior, 1931.

oneweioranother's picture

No disrespect felt Nick, as I said, I was also interested in learning a bit about the Century Schoolbook types. Of course at the end of the day I will still make the decision based on my judgement!

I appreciate the great responses and links - espcially old threads, I couldn't find those through the search..

forrest's picture

Thank you William for links to that thesis.

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