Sybarite, a fat face by James Puckett

blank's picture

Sybarite is a fat face that works at any size. Capitals with sweeping curves and sharp unbracketed serifs command attention while charming minuscules expose the amiable side of its demeanor.

Sybarite is James Puckett's revival of the fat face type that appears in the 1829 specimen of Alonzo W. Kinsley's Franklin Letter Foundry. Kinsley's was a very short-lived and unprofitable business. It opened in 1825 (some sources say 1829) and ended in 1832 upon Kinsley's death.

High-contrast typefaces like Sybarite have thin hairlines that translate poorly to scalable digital type. A hairline thin enough to remain a hairline at large sizes disappears at smaller sizes. And a hairline serif drawn for small sizes turns into a slab serif at large sizes. Solving this problem requires the creation of optical weights; fonts tuned for a certain size range, just as they existed in the era of metal type.

Thanks to James Montalbano, who advised on the design of the Roman during a class at the School of Visual Arts.

Read and see more at
And here is a link to the PDF specimen.

Mark Simonson's picture

Very nice!

marcox's picture

Love the italic swash alternate caps.

eliason's picture

Congrats and good luck, James!
I like the choice of italic /x/s.
Did you consider making contextual alternates of the swash italic /N/U/V/W/Y/ with reduced terminals, akin to what you did with roman /F/T/?
Your fatface pipe (|) made me smile!

blank's picture

I just had to do the alternate italic x. I have never especially liked the traditional double-c italic x in fat faces because it is often illegible outside of familiar words. I spotted the x in Allegro by Hans Bohn when I was reading through Mac MacGrew’s American Metal Types and decided to draw something similar. But then I noticed how well the double-c x worked in Matthew Carter’s Big Figgins, and that inspired me to stop being lazy and work out a double-c x that I was happy with.

I did think about playing around more with the alternates, but that kind of thing can snowball out of control, especially if there are accented versions. When I researched contemporary usage of fat faces I found that designers rarely use swash caps, so I decided it was not worth the stress or time. And there are real limits to what I can do with the swash caps because the overall style of Sybarite is intentionally stiff. You can see this in the swash V, W, and Y; the ball almost seems tacked on at small sizes. To really make the swashes work Sybarite would need to be a curvy fat face with bracketed serifs. This is why the historical swash K and X did not make it into the final version.

Your fatface pipe (|) made me smile!

I try to make all the oddball characters useful in every font. Things like pipes, daggers, and pilcrows are rarely used outside of regular and bold fonts. So I exaggerate them into ornamental versions of themselves.

.00's picture

Nice to see you finally finished it.

Good job!

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