Since 1994, for each typeface published by Typofonderie, a printed specimen is designed. The explanation is very simple: before the web, this was in fact the only way to present correctly a typeface. The web has changed that, a lot. As a foundry, it was a natural way to perpetuate this tradition initiated by Erhardt Ratdolt in 1486. What’s the function of a typeface specimen? To present a typeface before using it in situation for real. But there are different kinds of specimens as the testing pages a punchcutter must do, to check the shapes, weights, alignements, style. However, the main function for a specimen is to present the typeface to potential clients. Catalogues and specimens dedicated to a unique typeface are the first link between the type designer and potential users of new typefaces. A real tool for graphic designers, to check the style and functionalities of typefaces they may potentially need as part of any new projects. As graphic designer, before computers, let’s remember that books on any kind of subjects, color palettes, and type specimens then formed the essential elements to practice art everyday.
Historically, specimens provide a great ressource for historians, typeface designers, and anyone creating interest in typography. As example, the famous Egenolff-Berner specimen from 1592 was a crucial resource for Beatrice Warde during her researches on the real Garamond, as it also was the model for several Garamond revivals before and after the World War II. As other example, the work of Maximilien Vox who designed a great collection for Deberny & Peignot called the Divertissements Typographiques. In fact, all foundries publish magnificent typeface specimens, many which are present on the bookshelves of our colleagues.
In the early 2000s, foundries present on the web have discovered the joy of directly and easily selling their typefaces everyday. Few reputable foundries have decided to discontinue production of their printed material, thinking that the web will be enough: reducing costs? or placing too much trust in the non-tangibility of their products? For sure, a nicely designed website is the perfect place to extensively present a typeface and all its features with great visibility. The presentation of the digital font is directly connected to the shopping cart button. It’s also easy to propose pdfs ready for download, close to what you can see on a real printed specimen. We implemented online testing tools back insince 2003, and colleagues like Typotheque also implemented incredible tools to test extensively fonts online. With current large screens, high resolution, webfonts, it’s much more easy to properly present any typeface. Likewise, we can enjoy many web pages dedicated to present one single typeface family – thanks again to webfonts –, some of them are absolute gems. Many great tools everywhere. Any graphic designer, likes to collect things, books, ephemera, it’s human and it’s good. But who wants to collect such websites, in order to complete a collection of printed specimens started long ago, year after year? Not very handy, althought tools such as gimmebar.com are a great help for anyone who needs to collect the screenshot of any websites.
The printed specimens dedicated to one specific typeface
At Typofonderie, the first printed specimen was designed in the late 1994, in parallel with the redesign of the French newspaper Le Monde launched on 9th January 1995. The design was obviously a tribute of the newspaper front page. Later, in 1997, a new extended family was then launched by Typofonderie, with the same idea used in order to present the large Le Monde family. At first, few general catalogs were produced, in the path of Hoefler Typefoundry, Emigre type catalogs, Font Bureau catalogs (…) to simply present the typeface collection. The last printed catalog was proposed in 2001, as the web becoming de facto the best medium to present a collection of available typefaces, all together.
Alongside to this general catalog, we have published various specimens, each dedicated to a single specific typeface. But our current model, started with the Costa Pro, our very first OpenType family launched in 2004, even if at this time our website was already a good tool to present our typefaces. The idea behind the Costa printed specimen, was to built a design system easily adaptable to any forthcoming typeface. Something affordable to produce, a guarantee of longevity. How it works? Same size, same printer, the Typofonderie logotype always present on each side and next to the typeface name. For the rest, two spot colors, specific to the typeface, are selected to match closely to the color range defined for Typofonderie website to present the typeface, and that’s it. Some of these specimens have been designed internally, some others by external designers.
20 years anniversary
Typofonderie was launched 20 years ago, in October 1994. It’s the right time to look back on our history, on tangible items produced through these “non-tangible” digital fonts we design, produce and sell for our beloved users. So, we spent few days to update every of them, in some cases digital files back to “Type 1” fonts from 1994!. We recreated pdfs (how long will we be able to keep this pdf readable?), which the .pngs below have been created. We’ve compiled 95% of our specimens, especially for you on this page and on the Tumblr dedicated website, presenting specimens on large size images.
The Typofonderie printed specimens
In normal time, the only way to receive Typofonderie specimens is to purchase our digital fonts. To celebrate this 20th anniversary, It’ exceptionally possible to purchase them separately, with our current Typofonderie tote bag. Enjoy.
Le Monde Typofonderie typeface specimen, A3, 2 pages. Designed in-house, 1994.
Angie Sans Typofonderie typeface specimen, postcard. Designed in-house, 1996. Apolline Typofonderie typeface specimen, postcard. Designed in-house, 1996.
General Typofonderie typeface specimen, 290 × 80 mm, 10 pages. Designed in-house, 1997. General Typofonderie typeface specimen Nº1, A5, 10 pages. Designed in-house, 1998. Typofonderie bookmark, 55 × 180 mm. Designed in-house, 2006.
Le Monde Typofonderie typeface specimen, A3, 6 pages. Designed in-house, 1998.
Parisine + Parisine Plus Typofonderie typeface specimen, 700 × 500 mm. Designed by Muriel Paris, 1999.
Anisette Typofonderie typeface specimen, 190 × 500 mm. Designed in-house, 1999.
General Typofonderie typeface specimen, 150 × 300 mm, 12 pages. Designed in-house, 1999. General Typofonderie typeface specimen, A4, 16 pages. Designed in-house, 2001.
Ambroise Typofonderie typeface specimen, A3, 8 pages. Designed in-house, 2001.
Costa Typofonderie typeface specimen, 500 × 305 mm. Designed by Tiffany Warlde, 2004.
Parisine + Parisine Plus Typofonderie typeface specimen, 500 × 305 mm. Designed in-house, 2006.
Le Monde Typofonderie typeface specimen, postcard. Designed in-house, 2008. Anisette Typofonderie typeface specimen, postcard. Designed in-house, 2008. Soulful Type Typofonderie typeface specimen, postcard. Designed in-house, 2005.
Ambroise Typofonderie typeface specimen, postcard. Designed in-house, 2008. Le Monde Typofonderie typeface specimen, postcard. Designed in-house, 2008. Typofonderie bookmark on tracing paper, designed in-house, 1999.
Allumi Typofonderie typeface specimen, 500 × 305 mm. Designed in-house, 2009.
Ardoise Typofonderie typeface specimen, 500 × 305 mm. Designed by Muriel Paris, 2010.
General Typofonderie typeface specimen, 100 × 100 mm, 10 pages. Designed in-house, 2011.
Apolline Typofonderie typeface specimen, 330 × 305 mm. Designed in-house, 2012. Le Monde Typofonderie typeface specimen, 30 × 20 mm (smallest specimen produced!). Designed in-house, 2007.
Angie Sans Typofonderie typeface specimen, 165 × 305 mm. Designed in-house, 2012.
Geneo Typofonderie typeface specimen, 500 × 305 mm. Designed by Félix Demargne, Cheeri Paris, 2012.
Mislab Typofonderie typeface specimen, 500 × 305 mm. Designed by Xavier Dupré, 2013.
Anisette + Anisette Petite Typofonderie typeface specimen, 500 × 305 mm. Designed by Mark de Winne, Relay Room, 2014.