Perpetua gets royal use

PJay's picture

I wonder whether Eric Gill, Englishman, to be sure, but a staunch socialist, would have felt a mild sense of irony to see a typeface of his, 'Perpetua ( Italic)', used on the current Prince of Wales's wedding invitation. Of course, 'Perpetua', at eighty-two years old now, is a classic and represents the best of English design. It has that cunning simplicity that is the essence of elegance and never goes out of style.

PJay's picture

I had missed the previous slurs on Gill in the discussion of 'The King's Speech'.

Nick Shinn's picture

He sold out long before…


Never mind that socialists must work for filthy lucre in order to support themselves in capitalist countries, which is frequently pointed out by their detractors as a mark of hypocrisy, the greater irony is that robber barons who "give back" to the communities which have generously provided their great wealth are considered philanthropists.

jacobh's picture

I was a bit disappointed when I saw those invitations. If ever there were an invitation which deserved to be printed from a hand-engraved die, it would be these!

RadioB's picture

jacobh, I think the idea was that since the economy is in such dire straits then Prince William's wedding invitations mustn't be too over the top ... not only are they not over the top, they're actually quite shit.

russellm's picture

the economy

In relative terms the savings would amount to a little bit more than zero.

blank's picture

I can’t believe that nobody is coming up with good jokes about Gill’s incest and inbreeding among the royals.

Nick Shinn's picture

Must. try. harder. to put some amusing typographic spin on this event.
The Chuck Norris thread was more fun.

PJay's picture

What is this, the National Enquirer? In typography, Gill was a pre-eminent artist - ' that is all Ye know on earth and all ye need to know'.

quadibloc's picture

Nope. Sexual assault is a very serious crime. It overshadows everything else a person can ever do. After all, look at Leni Rifenstahl - and it's not as if her personal crimes were of the magnitude of those of Ilse Koch. Eric Gill doesn't even have that defense, so his ignominy should be worse than that of Leni Rifenstahl.

Nick Shinn's picture

So what are you saying—that people who use Gill Sans or Perpetua are condoning sexual assault?

Té Rowan's picture

Maybe it's as well that the face isn't named Perpetual, given the longevity of marriages among the current crop of royals.

PJay's picture

Didn't know this about Gill's sordid personal life, the dog either. It wouldn't be the first instance of pristine forms in art, such as in 'Perpetua', emerging from a morally mucky source, but it always seems to come as a surprise.

quadibloc's picture

@Nick Shinn:
So what are you saying—that people who use Gill Sans or Perpetua are condoning sexual assault?
No. I don't think that this issue can be simplified to that extent.
It's a reasonable attitude to take that Gill Sans and Perpetua are in themselves useful things which we should not deny ourselves because of whatever their creator may have done.
But it's also a reasonable attitude, which should not be condemned as bigoted, to shun those faces as an expression of our revulsion towards sexual assault.
What I reject in this kind of situation is an insistence on ideological purity. In cinema, Leni Rifenstahl is a pariah, while Sergei Eisenstein is a hero. And yet Stalin killed even more people than Hitler. If these are the results of a consensus on which artists should be shunned produce, they are not results of value: hypocrisy is not valuable.
Works of art are valuable and useful things, and serious crimes shouldn't meet with indifference. These are both reasonable values - and individuals should be able to balance them in their own way. Free from both an insistence that everyone must stop using Gill Sans and Perpetua or be branded a pedophile sympathizer... and an equally ideological insistence that art is sacred and must be considered in isolation from the "personal" lives of its creators.

1985's picture

I just bought an Eric Gill book, published by the British Library. Not a very special thing in itself but it will save me searching for references in future. I did think twice but on balance I bought it anyway.

What is the origin of the revelations about Gill? I've no reason to doubt them, I'm just aware I couldn't provide more than a rumour myself.

Quadibloc, what was Eisenstein's relationship to Stalin? I would guess not quite so close as Rifenstahl/Hitler… ?

jacobh's picture

1985: I think the first book to explore these issues was Fiona MacCarthy's biography (called simply "Eric Gill") which was published by Faber and Faber. You can still get the paperback version quite easily and cheaply online. Many of the improprieties, if I remember correctly, stem--in a somewhat Gladstonian way--from Gill's own diaries, so I don't think there is much room to doubt them.

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