New Additions: September 2017
17th October 2017
We add hundreds of fonts to the Identifont database every month. Most of these are recent releases, and some are simply new acquisitions from foundries who were not yet represented on our site. Stephen Coles gives his take on the most interesting recent additions.
Monotype has just announced a major digital release of typefaces by Berthold Wolpe, a talented designer and lettering artist of the early 20th century. All of Wolpe’s work has a liveliness and warm roughness to it; and that includes his typefaces – most of which were designed in the 1930s.
Albertus is Wolpe’s best known design and we’ve had a digital version for decades, but like many early revivals it suffered from the various transitions from drawing to metal, to photo, to digital. We’ve always seen a much cruder Albertus than Wolpe intended. With Albertus Nova, Toshi Omagari returns to the original drawings, brings back a handful of alternates that went missing, and expands the family to five weights with Greek and Cyrillic. Identifont’s comparison tool reveals the balance and refinement of the new design. It’s especially apparent in the e, g, m, and w, which are now allowed to stretch out to their appropriate proportions, no longer shackled to the Monotype machine’s restrictive unit system.
“Berthold Wolpe saw book jackets as small posters, whose job was to make an immediate impact in a busy and competitive visual field,” says Monotype in their marketing material for the Wolpe Collection. This explains the nature of Wolpe Tempest and Wolpe Fanfare, based on Wolpe’s energetic designs for books. Both typefaces were originally slanted-only and uppercase-only, and while it may have been tempting to invent an upright and lowercase for them, I respect Omagari’s decision to limit his reinterpretation. He added some restrained swash alternates to Tempest and gave it three weights. Fanfare was expanded to five weights and an Inline style (not for use alone, but for setting on top of the Black, which makes it easier to color the layers independently).
Blackletter type doesn’t get much use today, but Sachsenwald is such a lovely design, and so legible – even to modern readers – it deserved a revival. It was created in the early 1930s before Wolpe fled Germany to England. Monotype in London released it in 1937, on the eve of World War II, but it was officially discontinued in 1967 and fell into obscurity until a recent metal recasting. Omagari’s revival includes two weights and alternates for the original ‘HIXx’, which can be difficult to those unfamiliar with fraktur forms.
Of all the families in the Wolpe Collection, the one that excited me most is Wolpe Pegasus. Designed to be a text companion to Albertus, Pegasus is full of vigor, and surprises: unconventional contrast, mismatched serifs, and strange turns and corners that only a master draftsperson like Wolpe could get away with. Despite its originality and surprising readability, the typeface has eluded the digital market (despite a Matthew Carter revival in the 1990s) until now.
Pedro González’s Caprina caught my eye because it borrows one of the ideas from Renner’s original Futura – the square ‘anm’ – and applies it to a contemporary humanist/geometric sans. The ‘hrnu’ (and other characters in the alternates) also get these right-angle corners. I’m not sure the gimmick always works, but it can be interesting in some branding and titling contexts. Caprina appears to be based on González’s Geometrica and it would be interesting to know if the fonts can be used interchangeably.
Camp comes from a long tradition of letters made of logs. The first typefaces in this style date back to the mid-1800s, commonly sold under the name Rustic. A variety of film and digital interpretations followed, making their way to boy scout flyers and cabin placards all over the world. Many of these fonts are as shoddily constructed as a makeshift treehouse, so there is surely room for more woody type. Daniel Pelavin’s carpentry adds a lot more detail than its predecessors, which means you must use it quite large so it’s not mistaken for sausages or twisted balloons. Camp’s added bonus, however, is a set of layerable fonts for color effects. The uneven spacing is a little disappointing (see the sample above), especially given the experience of the fontmaker, but maybe I expect too much from rustic type.