Featured here is the second part of a small history of type. This history, normally told from the Anglo-Saxon point of view, is from a French perspective, allowing the reader to form one’s own opinion. Part One, covering the origins to the twentieth century is also available.

When we arrive to the twentieth century, there is less problem to find original fonts in digital version, but as it’s generally know, there is somtime some difference between the two. To follow part 1 rule, after each subtitle we have indicated, according to the Vox-ATypI classification, the category of the referenced typefaces, but here again, it become difficult as the last years don’t follow particular classification.


Part 1

The origins of printing
The Garamond adventure
The Elsevier dynasty
The century of luminaries
The typographic revolution
The private presses

Part 2

International typographic style
The 1960s and 1970s
Data Processing
The international of typography
Independant foundries
Recent typefaces


The evolution of composition techniques at the end of the nineteenth century was marked by the creation of the Linotype machine (1880, a typesetting machine which cast entire lines of type), the Monotype (1884, a typesetting machine that cast individual characters) and the Pantograph (1885, to reproduce drawings on punches easily), all of which completely transformed the typographical scene. That brought new designs: some, like Cheltenham (%{color:darkred}*ITC Century, ITC Cheltenham*%), or Franklin Gothic (Morris Fuller Benton, 1903), came in a many weights for the growing area of advertising. Others took as a starting point the work of Nicolas Jenson (fifteenth century), such as Centaur (Bruce Rogers, 1914), and of the Roman lapidary style, such as Perpetua and Gill Sans (%{color:darkred}*Gill Sans*%) (Eric Gill, 1929–30). Lastly, there were quite innovative creations such as Metro and Caledonia (William A. Dwiggins, 1930–8), and Romulus (Jan van Krimpen, 1925), the first typeface family to include serif and sans serif versions.

ITC Century, ITC Cheltenham. Liberal adaptions from the original designs. The x-heights here have been enlarged. Tony Stan, 1975, ITC.

Gill Sans. With reference to Garaldes, probably the first Linéale with a true italic. Eric Gill, 1928, Monotype.

Times New Roman. “The” typeface of the (last) century, designed for the newspaper of the same name. Recently, there has been some research that appears to demonstrate that Morison adapted his design from an earlier one created by American Starling Burgess in the beginning of the twentieth century. Stanley Morison and Victor Lardent, 1932, Monotype.

Fighting a commercial war, the foundries came out with their revivals: Cloister (M. F. Benton, 1897), Monotype Garamond (see part 1) (F. Goudy, 1921), Bembo, Fournier, Baskerville “by” Stanley Morison (Monotype, 1920). Morison, one of the most enigmatic figures in typography, worked – with Beatrice Warde, his collaborator – for Monotype as a typographic consultant: he supervised the prestigious typeface design programme and additionally “directed” the magazine The Fleuron. In 1932, the Times newspaper ordered its own typeface family from Morison, who gets Victor Lardent to draw it (%{color:darkred}*Times New Roman*%).

Peignot. A mixing of upper- and lowercase designs, as we find in Oncials. It has maintained its originality to today. Adolphe Mouron Cassandre, 1930, Deberny & Peignot.

Not having followed the same technical evolution, the French foundries did not find the success they deserved with their typefaces. Deberny & Peignot released Banjo (Maximilien Vox, 1930), Peignot (%{color:darkred}*Peignot*%) (Cassandre, 1937), Sphinx. Its president, Charles Peignot – also the founder of the Association Typographique Internationale (ATypI) – compensated for his technological delay with the publication of the magazine Arts & Metiers Graphiques and the Divertissements typographiques, dedicated to demonstrating typographic compositions using Deberny & Peignot types; Maximilien Vox, founder of the Rencontres internationale de Lure, oversaw its art direction.

Bauhaus (geometric linéales)

Futura. Even though not designed under the “Bauhaus label”, Futura is reminiscent of this period. Very recently, the actual owner of the rights of Futura digitized a new version from the original drawings. Paul Renner, 1928, Bauer (now Neufville).

Herbert Bayer drew several experimental typefaces, one without capitals (1925) and Bayer Type (1935) for the Berthold foundry. In Die Neue Typographie, Jan Tschichold put forward his theories on his principles for a new typography. He created a “monoalphabet”, including a phonetic version which took into account proposals for a reform of German, and Saskia and Transito, which were more decorative typefaces (c. 1930). Even though these Bauhaus typefaces were not really commercialized, they remain references (%{color:darkred}*Futura*%).


Vendôme, Antique Olive, Mistral. A 1950s’ French style. These can be abundantly seen in shop signage in small cities in France. Roger Excoffon, 1951-53, ITC. Note: Recently, ITC added supplementary weights, small caps and oldstyle figures to the original Mistral.

Optima. A pure design, mixing tradition and modernity, taking its reference from Roman inscriptions set in stone. Hermann Zapf, 1958, Stempel.

ITC Fenice. A contemporary, attractive and original Didone – compare it to the historical models in Part 1 – created by the talented Italian type designer Aldo Novarese, 1980, ITC.

Hermann Zapf, particularly inspired by calligraphy, created Palatino (1948), Melior (1952), Optima (%{color:darkred}*Optima*%) (1958), and later ITC Zapf Chancery (1979). Aldo Novarese created traditional typefaces such as Garaldus, Augustea, Egizio and original ones such as Eurostile (1952) and Stop (1971) for the Nebiolo foundry; later works for ITC in the United States: Novarese, Fenice (%{color:darkred}*ITC Fenice*%) (1980). The Olive foundry released typefaces that marked the French graphic landscape: Vendôme, Banco, Mistral and Choc (%{color:darkred}*Vendôme, Antique Olive, Mistral*%) (1951–3), typefaces by Roger Excoffon who, in reaction to the widespread linéales, created Antique Olive (1960). Jan Tschichold, who changed styles dramatically, designed Sabon (1967, paragraph on Garamond, v.s.), the first typeface family for handsetting for Stempel and all available mechanical systems: Monotype, Linotype and Intertype, until the advent of photocomposition. The invention of the Lumitype-Photon photocompositor (1949) by two Frenchmen, Higounet and Moyrond, marked the beginning of great changes.

International typographic style (grotesk linéales)

Univers. First family, which from the beginning, was planned with 21 different variants. Adrian Frutiger, 1957, Deberny & Peignot. Note: Adrian Frutiger recently designed a new version called New Univers, issued by Linotype, that includes many new weights and several improvements in the progression of the weights.

Helvetica. Along with Times, the default font for many of today’s computers. Max Meidinger, 1958, Haas.

Frutiger. Fifteen years separate these two major designs (first a is Univers, second is Frutiger). Frutiger’s inspiration came from a signage typeface called Roissy, which he also designed in the early ’70s for the new Roissy airport in Paris. This typeface is now a standard amongst Linéales in terms of legibility for signage systems all over the world.

Adrian Frutiger’s Univers (%{color:darkred}*Univers*%) (1957) was one of the first typefaces drawn for the Lumitype (and its font discs). It was a typeface aimed at having universal graphic design applications. The prolific Frutiger also designed other linéales, including Frutiger (%{color:darkred}*Frutiger*%) (1976). In 1950s Switzerland, a creative spirit from the Bauhaus “refugees” still influenced contemporary graphic design. This was based on asymmetrical layout, exploiting white space, the use of size and linéales like Helvetica (%{color:darkred}*Helvetica*%) by Max Miedinger (1958) and Univers, the crowning choice of Emil Ruder. Josef Müller Brockmann’s typographical “imagery” brought an indelible mark on international style. Wolfgang Weingart (1968) was the first, in defiance of convention, to practise a typographical “new wave” which would influence Californian designers such as April Greiman (1980).

The 1960s and 1970s

ITC Benguiat. A perfect example of the ITC style “in vogue” in the US during the ’70s. Ed Benguiat, 1977, ITC.

ITC Avant-Garde Gothic. The major type design of Herb Lubalin, who took as his source a typographical logotype he created for Avant Garde magazine at the end of the ’60s. Herb Lubalin and Tom Carnase, 1970, ITC.

ITC Eras. Created as an all-cap, one-weight typeface in the early ’60s for the studio Hollenstein. Albert Boton added lowercase and expanded the typeface into a five-weight family. Albert Boton, 1977, ITC.

In 1960, the first “transfer lettering” is born, with Letraset and its original creations. Fashion and ephemera enter typography. Herb Lubalin created U&lc magazine to promote the International Typeface Corporation’s (ITC) type collection. This foundry sold typefaces independently of the machines that used them: ITC Benguiat (%{color:darkred}*ITC Benguiat*%) by Ed Benguiat, ITC Avant Garde (%{color:darkred}*ITC Avant Garde*%) by Herb Lubalin, ITC Eras (%{color:darkred}*ITC Eras*%) by Albert Boton, were all successes. The first digital photocomposition systems appeared, as did the first optical character recognition technologies, which offered new possibilities to designers: Frutiger created OCR-B and Wim Crouwell conceived, in reference to these technologies, a monoalphabet and typefaces evoking the bitmap. Ladislas Mandel in Europe created Galfra (1975); Matthew Carter in the United States created Bell Centennial (1978), using digital bitmap technology to create characters adapted to the very small point sizes in telephone directories.

Data processing

Industria. The inspiration came from headline faces that its creator designed for English magazine The Face. Neville Brody, 1990, Linotype.

Swift. A new genre in newspaper typefaces. Its main characteristic is the strong emphasis on the horizontal. Gerard Unger, 1987, Hell.

With his layout for the English magazine The Face, Neville Brody marked the 1980s. The titling typefaces he created for this magazine have a constructivist inspiration: Insignia, Industria (%{color:darkred}*Industria*%) (1980–90). Gerard Unger created Demos and Praxis (1977) for Hell, both of which formed a multi-style family; then a new genre of type especially suited to daily newspaper publishing, Swift (%{color:darkred}*Swift*%) (1987). Gerard Unger continued to create specific fonts for newspapers with an emphasis on legibility such as Gulliver (1994) or more recently Quaranto (2000). In California,

Emperor, Citizen, Matrix, Mrs Eaves, Tarzana Zuzana Licko is one of those rare type designers who knows how to break the rules each time to experiment and create new trends in type design. Zuzana Licko, 1985-98, Emigre.

Emigre magazine, conceived by two European immigrants with the first Apple Macintoshes, was dedicated to experimentation. Zuzana Licko created Emperor (1985), inspired by bitmaps used for screen display, Citizen and Matrix (1986–9), simplified typefaces that evolved with technological advances, before developing more traditional styles such as Mrs Eaves (1996), a Baskerville, and Tarzana 3 (1998), a linéale (%{color:darkred}*Emperor, Citizen, Matrix, Mrs Eaves, Tarzana*%).

Stone Serif, Stone Sans, Stone Informal One of the first large families that offer the user the opportunity to mix different styles depending on the message content. Sumner Stone, 1987, Adobe-ITC-Stone Type Foundry.

Myriad. First Multiple Master typeface, offering the user the choice of the exact weights and widths needed. Carol Twombly and Robert Slimbach, 1992, Adobe. Note: A OpenType version called Myriad Pro is now available.

At the same time as the experimentation, Adobe, the inventor of PostScript and the tandem of Illustrator and Photoshop, developed a series of more classical types. Sumner Stone, then responsible for the typeface development programme at Adobe, created the Stone family (%{color:darkred}*Stone*%) (1987), with three variants: Serif, Sans and Informal. Robert Slimbach launched a very beautiful interpretation of Garamond (1989), and Minion (1991). With Carol Twombly – who created Trajan, Lithos (1989) and Adobe Caslon (1990) — they drew Myriad (%{color:darkred}*Myriad*%) (1992), the first typeface family using Multiple Master technology. Thanks to Apple and Adobe, typography was finally liberated from the constraints of technology.

The international of typography

Free from the limits of composition techniques, the creation of typefaces becomes an entire profession. Bitstream, created around 1980 (by, inter alia, Matthew Carter), was the first digital typefoundry. Around 1995, Agfa took over Monotype and started its Creative Alliance to compete with Adobe. In its last years before being absorbed by Agfa Monotype, the International Typeface Corporation issued several revivals of English typefaces done by Dave Farey such New Johnston and Golden Cockerel. Linotype became independent and started to publish new versions of its classics, for instance New Univers or New Syntax. Various members tried to stop the fall of prices by distinguishing themselves through distributing their own original creations.

Verdana, Georgia. These fonts have been developed for the screen as the final medium of usage. They use high-quality hinting done by Tom Rickner for Microsoft. Matthew Carter, 1996, Microsoft.

Sylfaen. One of the first OpenType fonts developed for Microsoft as a model for a large character set typeface family. A limited version of it is available with Windows 2000. John Hudson, 1998, Microsoft.

Microsoft also attacked the typeface market, hiring Matthew Carter to develop fonts adapted to the screen, Verdana and Georgia (%{color:darkred}*Verdana, Georgia*%) (1996). Because of Microsoft’s joint development, dating from 1996, of a new font format called OpenType with Adobe, it commissioned Sylfaen (%{color:darkred}*Sylfaen*%) (1998), a comprehensive OpenType font from Tiro Typeworks, among others from Monotype. Adobe, too, started to re-release some of its classics as Minion Pro and Myriad Pro (%{color:darkred}*Myriad*%) (2000) in OpenType, now including large character sets to cover many scripts such Greek and Cyrillic, together with automatic ligature and small caps subtitution.

Independant foundries

FF Meta. The first FontFont. This started life as a corporate typeface for the German Post Office in 1985, but was never accepted. Its designer decided to finish it few years after. Erik Speikermann, 1990, FontFont.
FF Just left hand. Created in one night with the complementary Erikrighthand by Just van Rossum and Erik van Blokland, who together play with new technology and try to go beyond their computers and their limitations. Just van Rossum, 1991, FontFont.
Eagle. A perfect example of the Font Bureau’s revivals of old American typefaces from the ATF period. David Berlow, 1989, Font Bureau.
Mantinia. One of the most beautiful all-cap typefaces with many ligatures and superior small caps. Matthew Carter, 1993, Carter & Cone.
Stone Print, Cycles and Arepo. Three examples from the work of Sumner Stone. Stone Print is the exclusive typeface of the American graphic design magazine Print. Sumner Stone, 1994-1999, Stone Typefoundry.
Cycles and Arepo. Three cuts (from 72 pt to 6 pt, shown at the same size) of the same family. Each has been carefully designed to work at their best in the size for which it would be used. Sumner Stone, 1995-1999, Stone Typefoundry.

At the same time, foundries such as FontFont marketed very original creations such as those from the Dutch designers LettError: its FF Beowolf (1990, a typeface based around randomness) and FF JustLeftHand (%{color:darkred}*FF Just left hand*%) (1991); more traditional offerings such as FF Meta (%{color:darkred}*FF Meta*%) (1990) by Erik Spiekermann, founder of FontShop; Martin Majoor’s FF Scala and Scala Sans (1991–3); and the 144 styles of Luc(as) de Groot’s FF Thesis (1994), which is no longer part of the FontFont library and is distributed by its creator through his foundry Lucasfonts (2000). David Berlow revisited the types of the dawn of the twentieth century, which included Bureau Grotesque (1989), Eagle (%{color:darkred}*Eagle*%) (1989), Rhode (1997), initially for the American press, including magazines such as Rolling Stone, before marketing them with others under the Font Bureau brand. They also created several typefaces for newspapers in conjunction with the Poynter Institute, such as Poynter Text designed by Tobias Frere-Jones.

With the arrival of new distribution channels such as FontShop’s local distributors, typeface designers gained independence and opened small operations to retail their products, such as Carter & Cone and its Mantinia (%{color:darkred}*Mantinia*%) (1993), Hoefler Type Foundry and its Hoefler Text done for Apple system 7 (%{color:darkred}*Hoefler Text*%) (1995–8), T-26, Stone Type Foundry (%{color:darkred}*Cycles and Arepo*%) (1998).

Recent typefaces.

A short list of contemporary typefaces.
HTF Didot, Knockout, Hoefler Text, Mercury, Hoefler Typefoundry.
Chalet, Simian, House Industries.
Bliss, Shaker, Jeremy Tankard typography.

A short list of french contemporary typefaces.
Bebop, PrésenceTypo.
Ambroise, Porchez Typofonderie. FFAngie, FontFont.
Champion, François Boltana.

A second wave, because of the emergence of the Web, started to distribute their fonts directly, such Jeremy Tankard, who ceased to license his successful Bliss to Agfa. Tankard’s web site, like many others, offers an online system to test the fonts, using Flash.

This seems to be a new trend in distribution, due to the web which acts as a global substitute font catalogue. Bigger foundries such Hoefler or House Industries offer their fonts ready to download with their own secure payment systems. Smaller foundries have subscribed to MyFonts.com’s system, which provide a similar service in return for a low sales commission.

In France, the situation reflects happenings in the US on a smaller level. Arguably the first to sell his fonts is François Boltana  (1955–99) and his Champion (%{color:darkred}*Champion*%) (1989). Porchez Typofonderie and Radiateur Fonts followed him in the ’nineties, and a few others are now on the market, such Présence Typo run by Thierry Puyfoulhoux, or Christophe Badani’s Typophage. What is better — or worse (!) — with this new way is that the customer is often in direct contact with the typeface designer.


Jean François Porchez, copyright 1997–2008, all rights reserved. The French version is based on the article (p. 36–45) by the same author published in Encyclopédie de la chose Imprimée, Edtions Retz, 1999.


To Jack Yan for his translation of the original French version. Many thanks to all the type designers for the image of their fonts (in 2001).