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History of Type

History of Type

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In this lesson you will learn to categorize type families by historical classification.

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Tutorial

What's Covered

This tutorial will discuss the history of type by exploring each type separately, specifically focusing on the following types: 

  1. Old Style
  2. Blackletter
  3. Transitional
  4. Modern
  5. Egyptian
  6. Sans-Serif
  7. Bauhaus


1. Old Style

The lesson is going to start with Garamond as an example and this typeface belongs to the Old Style classification.

Term to Know

    • Old Style
    • A type classification developed in the 1400s and based on ancient Roman inscriptions and an early writing style. This style is characterized by low contrast between thick and thin strokes and distinctive numerals. Member type families include Garamond and Caslon.

Old Style type class was developed in the 1400s when scribes used quills to create letter forms. As a result, the relation to calligraphy is apparent in their moderate contrast between thick and thin strokes, their slanted serifs on the lowercase letters, and a diagonal stress that's visible if you draw a line through the thinnest part of the letters. If you look closely at the image below, you'll also notice that the serifs are bracketed, which is to say that they have a curved or a wedge-like connection between the stem and the actual serif.


This class is considered best for large bodies of text. So you'll find them in use heavily today in magazines, books, newspapers, and more. Garamond and Caslon are also members of this classification.

Garamond was originally designed by Claude Garamond in the 1540s and the typeface was revisited in 1975 by Tony Stan, with revisions that were associated with the International Typeface Corporation, or ITC. The revisions include an increase in x-height, wider weight, and slightly more condensed width. In 1984, Apple added their own variant, opting for narrower and taller x-height, so there's very minor, subtle refinements being made to suit different purposes.


2. Blackletter

The Blackletter class are a script style of calligraphy popular in the 1400s throughout the 1900s and it was popularized in Germany and used throughout Europe through the Renaissance.

Term to Know

    • Blackletter
    • A type classification developed in the 1400s and based on written manuscripts. This style is characterized by elaborate, straight, angular strokes. Member type families include Fraktur and Rotunda.

Most people think of this classification as medieval, Gothic, or that old English lettering and you'll see this quite often with ornate capitals, like in the letter B below, roughly diamond-shaped serifs and thick and thin lines.

Note the overall weight here and the contrast between thick and thin strokes and the very thin serifs in the lowercase letters. Because this type classification is difficult to read in large bodies of text, they're typically best suited for headings, logos, posters, signs, and of course, certificates and diplomas. Member type families include Fraktur and Rotunda.

Here is an example of a page in a bible written in blackletter:



3. Transitional

Transitional is named for its intermediate position bridging the gap between the Old Style and what will later become the Modern.

Term to Know

    • Transitional
    • A type classification developed in the 1700s which evolved from Old Style. This style is characterized by wider characters and greater contrast between thick and thin strokes than Old Style. Member type families include Baskerville and Bookman.

As you can see in the image above, distinguishing features of this class include wider characters and more vertical stress, a lot sharper serifs, and slightly higher contrast between strokes. Members of this class will continue with more accentuated contrast and more flattened serifs that will eventually shift towards the Modern. Baskerville and Bookman are members of this classification.


4. Modern

The Modern classification was a radical shift from the traditional topography that we've seen up until this point in time.

Term to Know

    • Modern
    • A type classification developed in the late 1700s. This style is characterized by a geometric quality, hairline thin serifs and extreme contrast between thick and thin strokes. Member type families include Bodoni and Didot.

It was developed in the late 18th to early 19th century and the change reflected cultural influences and advances in technology.

As you can see in the image above, members of this classification have a striking appearance with their very bold contrast between thick and thin strokes, the vertical stress, and also not to be missed the very thin serifs. Now striking as this classification may be, it's not very suitable for extensive text work like books or magazines. Member type families include Bodoni and Didot.

Here is an example of the modern typeface in Dante's La Vita Nuova:



5. Egyptian

Now, as time progressed in the early 1800s, there was a greater need for typefaces to be used for advertising, so boosting visibility became a focus, which is indicated in the vertical stress, thick horizontal non-bracketed serifs, and lower contrast between strokes that created a clearer, darker appearance. This led to the Egyptian type.

Term to Know

    • Egyptian
    • A type classification developed in the early 1800s and named for a trend popularizing Egyptian antiques. This style is characterized by rectangular or so called slab serifs and use of strokes of even weight. Member type families include Clarendon and Rockwell.

As you can see in the image below, type families in this class are a lot bolder in appearance, as you can see.


Make note again here of the bracketed versus non-bracketed serifs.

You may recognize the Egyptian type in this poster:


6. Sans-Serif

Sans serif, as the name implies, is a typeface without serifs.

Term to Know

    • Sans-Serif
    • This type classification was developed in the early 1800s and later popularized by the Bauhaus movement. This style is characterized by the absence of serifs and uniform thickness of stroke. Member type families include Helvetica and Futura.

It was also developed in the early 1800s. Sans, meaning without in French, is a simple distinction for this classification.

As seen in the image above, the sans serif class is almost always mono-weight, which is another way of saying it has no stress because of lack of transitions between thick and thin strokes, so again, even distribution of weight. Although this classification developed before the age of computers, it remains one of the most legible to use for computer monitors, so it's fairly popular as a result.

Here is a Dutch newspaper showing this type in practice:



7. Bauhaus

This style was later popularized by the Bauhaus movement, which we'll dabble on in just a minute here.

Term to Know

    • Bauhaus
    • An art and craft movement begun at a school in Germany in the 1920s. The movement emphasized the functional aspects of design and was characterized by the use of simple geometric shapes, sans-serif type and a lack of adornment.

The Bauhaus movement emerged from a time of great traumatic change and between two world wars an academy of art called Bauhaus emerged in the 1920s that promoted Modernism. It had a profound influence on the 20th century design. The movement emphasized functional aspects of design.

As you can see in the image above, it was characterized by the use of simple, geometric shapes; sans serif type; and lack of adornment. Member type families in this class often used modest curves and mirrored aesthetics, no contrast between strokes, as I mentioned no serifs, and very simplistic designs altogether. Member type families in this class retain their progressive design today and are very visible in advertising, publications, branding, and digital media.



Summary

Well, that ends the lesson today on the history of type. This lesson looked at the major historical movements when it comes to typeface. 

You can see in the image above the timeline of each type.  Specifically, this lesson covered Old Style, Blackletter, Transitional, Modern, Egyptian, Sans Serif, and Bauhaus.

Keep up the learning and have a great day!

Source: SOURCE: THIS WORK IS ADAPTED FROM SOPHIA AUTHOR MARIO E. HERNANDEZ

TERMS TO KNOW
  • Blackletter 

    A type classification developed in the 1400s and based on written manuscripts. This style is characterized by elaborate, straight, angular strokes. Member type families include Fraktur and Rotunda.

  • Old Style

    A type classification developed in the 1400s and based on ancient Roman inscriptions and an early writing style. This style is characterized by low contrast between thick and thin strokes and distinctive numerals. Member type families include Garamond and Caslon.

  • Transitional

    A type classification developed in the 1700s which evolved from Old Style. This style is characterized by wider characters and greater contrast between thick and thin strokes than Old Style. Member type families include Baskerville and Bookman.

  • Modern

    A type classification developed in the late 1700s. This style is characterized by a geometric quality, hairline thin serifs and extreme contrast between thick and thin strokes. Member type families include Bodoni and Didot.

  • Egyptian

    A type classification developed in the early 1800s and named for a trend popularizing Egyptian antiques. This style is characterized by rectangular or so called slab serifs and use of strokes of even weight. Member type families include Clarendon and Rockwell.

  • Sans-Serif

    This type classification was developed in the early 1800s and later popularized by the Bauhaus movement. This style is characterized by the absence of serifs and uniform thickness of stroke. Member type families include Helvetica and Futura.

  • Bauhaus

    An art and craft movement begun at a school in Germany in the 1920s. The movement emphasized the functional aspects of design and was characterized by the use of simple geometric shapes, sans-serif type and a lack of adornment.