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Typography Timeline (Typography II)

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  • 8/9/2019 Typography Timeline (Typography II)


    TYPOLOGICAL ACCESS, Not Just An Akzide

    The State of Typography

    from the Industrial Revolution

    to the Twenty-First Century

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  • 8/9/2019 Typography Timeline (Typography II)


  • 8/9/2019 Typography Timeline (Typography II)



     W.R. Martin Company rotary press, 1928.

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  • 8/9/2019 Typography Timeline (Typography II)


    THE HISTORIC Baseline

    The mass production of the Industrial Revolution brought about the need for poster

    advertising at an unprecedented level. Businesses

    needed their advertising posters to be read at a

    distance, thus business sought highly competitive

    typefaces that were bold and loud. The new

    demands of advertising inspired the creation of the

    typeface Egyptian Slab in Britain (Annand 103).

    Egyptian Slab letterforms evolved from fat-face

    types to be comprised of thick stems and thinner

    serif weights (97). While the san serif took predom- inance in the twentieth century, san serifs actually

    started appearing in the nineteenth century. William

    Caslon IV is credited with the creating the first sans

    serif printing typeface in 1816 (Alessio). Caslon’s

    typeface contained only capitals and was called

    Egyptian (despite early slab serifs also being

    marketed as Egyptians).

    However, in addition to

    Egyptian, the names used

    for the early san serif type-

    faces also included Gothic, Grotesque and Antique

    (Stock-Allen). The Egyptian

    name was likely attached

    to slab serif type around

    the Egyptian craze of the

    1830’s, when the Egyptian

    artifacts from Napoleonic

    conquest were sweeping

    the western world.



    Advertising for Oxbridge Fair 1878.

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    Much like Egyptian Slab

    typefaces, san serifs before

    World War II were ini-

    tially based on classical

    proportions. In 1913,

    the Underground Electric

    Railways Company of

    London commissioned

    Edward Johnston for their

    transportation system. Similar to the Egyptian Slab typefaces, the Johnston typeface designs focused on legibility at a distance, thus the letterforms

    were based on the proportions of the capitals of the Trajan Columns.

    Humanist typefaces have a more organic san serif structure. Analogous to

    Egyptian Slab letterforms, the humanistic san serif Johnston contains line

    strokes of varied width, based on Johnston’s calligraphic skills. Just prior

    to World War II, designers began to use modernism and the avant garde

    to experiment with san serifs. By the 1920’s Paul Renner had been influ-

    enced by the Bauhaus (Stock-Allen). He sought to devise an alphabet with

    geometric shapes and lines and thus created the typeface Futura. Unlike

    Egyptian Slab and Clarendon typefaces, Geometric typefaces are based on

    geometric shapes. After World War II, the design of san serifs were based on a harmonious gray line. In contrast to the disharmony of Egyptian Slab

    and Clarendon typefaces, these san serif letterforms when placed in a row

    aligned to a harmonious gray line. Adrian Frutiger crafted the Univers type-

    face based on geometry, but with such complexity and organic qualities that

    allowed for a smoother fit on the line.

    The Egyptian Slab typefaces first

    appeared in 1815 with the Antique type-

    face by Vincent Figgins. By 1821, Six Pica

    Egyptian, with its strong square strokes,

    became a standard display typeface.


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    A TYPE OF Reaction

    Artistic movements that reacted to impacted type- face design of the nineteenth century to twentieth century.

    The Industrial Revolution began in Britain and led to the

    production of shoddy mass-produced consumer goods

    (Harskamp). Traditionally manual workers learned their trade

    by progression through apprenticeship under a craftsman.

    However,the critical eye and skill of the craftsman was sacri-

    ficed for speed, lower cost, and inferior products (Stock-Allen).

    Likewise, type and graphic design also went into decline

    during the Industrial Revolution. The Arts and Crafts

    Movement, a loosely linked group of artisans, craftsmen,

    architects, and designers; sought to elevate the applied arts

    in a revolt against Victorian tastes and industrial manufac-

    tures. While the movement began in the late 1800s in

    England, the movement spread to the United States in the

    early 1900s. Medieval designs provided a model for the Arts

    and Crafts Movement’s craft production and type design.

    William Morris was a prominent figure in the Arts and Crafts

    movement. Morris was particularly influenced by the early

    Roman letterforms of French designer Nicholas Jenson.


    George W. Jones,

    Dorothy decorative caps.

    The typefaces of Arts and Crafts

    and Art Nouveau movements both

    sought to reconcile the

    decrease of craftsmanship during

    the Industrial Revolution.

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    Morris photographed and enlarged Jenson’s letter-

    forms in order to use them as a structural basis for his

    Golden Type. Similar to the Arts and Crafts Movement, Art Nouveau was an art movement that existed from

    the late nineteenth until the early twentieth century

    (Barnhart). Although Art Nouveau means “new art”,

    much like the Arts and Crafts movement, it borrowed

    elements from medieval manuscripts and Persian

    pottery. The Art Nouveau style had a significant impact

    on graphic design, specifically posters; which allowed

    for a greater accessibility of the art movement to the

    general public. The curved linear patterns found in the

    posters were a hallmark of the Art Nouveau style and

    the typography served an integral part of the design. The Art Nouveau style was inspired by the curved lines

    of organic shapes and had a calligraphic look. Art

    Nouveau typography often contained letters that were

    elongated and embellished.


    The Ideal Book

    by William Morris.

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    MORE THAN Justified

    Whereas the industrial

    mechanization brought

    out ideals of organic line

    and craft in the Arts and

    Crafts Movement, war

    mechanization created

    ideals of simplicity and

    free thought.


    Artistic movements that reacted to the World Wars, impacted the typeface design of the twentieth

    century. World War I, from 1914-1918, killed two million

    Germans and left Germany’s large economy in shambles

    (Davis). By 1918, the German Empire had become the

    German Republic, although turmoil between political parties

    and police still persisted. Thus the cooperative aspects of

    artisans and utilitarianism approach to design make sense

    in the context of war and revolution. Similar to Arts and

    Crafts and Art Nouveau Movements, the Bauhaus art

    school in Germany sought to bridge the gap between art and industry (Stock-Allen). While Arts and Crafts and

    Art Nouveau celebrated the countryside and fought against

    mass production, the Bauhaus embraced the urban land-

    scape and industrial process. Although Arts and Crafts

    and Art Nouveau Movements were influenced by medieval

    design, the Modern Style’s visual reduction had erased

    links to historical traditions and avoided any references to

    culture or geography. After an extensive Pop Art exhibition at

    the Sidney Janis Gallery in New York in 1962, was seen as

    the end of modernism and the beginning of the postmod-

    ern era. In contrast to the Arts and Crafts Movement, Postmodernism embraced deskilled means of making

    artwork and focused more on the concept. The freedom of

    the Postmodern art movement aligned with the digital

    freedom of electronic type.

    Postmodernist typogra-

    phers started a movement

    where the designer’s hand

    was more prominent in

    each letter (Righthand).

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    April Greiman ‘Does it Make sense?’

    Herbert Bayer design for a poster, 1923.

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    Slab serif wood type.

    Type set on a Vandercook press.

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    PRESSING Matters

    Letterpress and Lithograph technology were pre- dominant means of printing from the nineteenth to twentieth

    century. William Morris succeeded in establishing a profitable

    private press, which led to the creation of a breadth of private

    presses throughout England and Europe (Harskamp).

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