The importance of typeface specimens for designers throughout History

afonseca1974's picture

Hi everyone!

I'm doing a research about the importance of typeface specimens for designers throughout History.
I found some books (like Typographic Specimens: The Great Typefaces ) and articles (like Real Web Type in Real Web Context) and some posts here in Typophile like:
http://typophile.com/node/27291
http://typophile.com/node/52442

But, can anyone point out some more?
Thank you in advance.
António.

hrant's picture

Related:
http://www.amazon.com/Alphabets-Order-Literature-Nineteenth-Century-Type...
(I've bought a copy, but have not read it yet.)

Also, in case it might be relevant: in the journal Codex there's an article that claims that the first ever typeface specimen was produced by Erhard Ratdolt.

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture

I love type specimens, but they do facilitate plagiarism and distort history.

afonseca1974's picture

Thank you Hrant!

Nick,
the plagiarism I understand, but in what way do you think it distorts history?

António

Nick Shinn's picture

Because specimens generally accord equal status to all a foundry’s products.
And because extant specimens do not represent all foundries.
The types that are most culturally significant, being most representative of a time and place, i.e. those which were most popular, do not necessarily correspond to what one finds in the specimens in libraries.

It’s much harder to write a type history from commercially produced documents (trade set), because it requires much forensic expertise and effort in identifying the types.
As an aside, here is the earliest trade use of a sans of which I am aware:
http://pinterest.com/pin/49539664621179232/
Compare with the best-known first sans, the 1816 Caslon, which has never been seen “in the wild”.

afonseca1974's picture

Thank you nick.
My approach is more in terms of understanding the construction (and evolution) of type specimens in different periods, not the types themselves.
The article Specimaniac. In praise of type specimens, old and new, with Veer’s Joe Newton is good, but not to deep...

For example, the actual type specimens:
show off all of the characters in the set, and OT features, the typeface set in a realistic way somewhere so we can see how it will look like when they go to use it in "real world" setting, etc.

Or even the Internet typessetters software as type specimens ...

What different types of type specimens can we see during History...

António

hrant's picture

Antonio, is this going to end up as a classy published piece? Because if so I happen to have the coolest image ever included in a type specimen, but I've been saving it for a great occasion. :-)

hhp

afonseca1974's picture

hrant,
Hmm...it is in a preliminary fase but its a small paper for a local typographic meeting...
Not sure if will be accepted :)
But I would love to see that "coolest image ever included in a type specimen"...

AF

hrant's picture

I will email it to you.
(What's your email? Mine: hpapazian at gmail dot com.)
Use it judiciously. :-)

hhp

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