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  • Re: Type Identification (Historical)

    Firstly, a brief historical background.

    In January 1808 the Portuguese royal family escaped from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro. Portugal refused to take part in Napoleon's continental block against England. Portuguese decision was not only due to the close partnership both countries had since 1700s, but especially because a broke with England would cause the Portuguese colonies to be taken by London. Napoleon answer was to invade Portugal.

    Just before the royal trip, a set of typographical equipments came from London. They were destined to Lisbon's Imprensa Régia (Royal Press). The purchase of a press office was reported by Hipólito José da Costa in the newspaper Correio Braziliense, printed in London due to Portugal censorship. Laurence Hallewell, in O livro no Brasil, goes beyond and report that the purchase included 28 type sets and one or two presses, all at the cost of 100 Sterling Pounds.

    Due to the royal escape, the typographical set was sent to Brazil together with a large group of people, ships and goodies. A total of 10,000~14,000 people followed D. João VI, Portugal's Emperor, protected by English navy. Type machinery were used to mount the new Imprensa Régia in Rio de Janeiro, in May 1808.

    The book referred by Fernando was the very first one made on this office. Before it, they printed some royal decrees, including the late war declaration against France. Until then print was prohibited in Brazil and the only books available here were imported from Portugal under strict permission by Catholic Inquisition and Portuguese government. A huge contrast from Spanish America.

    There was only a precedent. In 1747, the printer Isidoro da Fonseca came from Lisbon and established an early press in Rio. But just after the production of four small books —and even considering they were authorized by local Inquisition censors—  Portuguese government dismantled the office and Fonseca was deported back to Lisbon.

    It is reported that Imprensa Régia (also called Impressão Régia, Royal Printing) was using good quality type and paper. In a historical research published in 1977, Hallewell points that José Conceição Mariano Velloso, a well experienced composer who worked in England and London, was working in the new press. The historian Rubens Borba de Moraes remarks the quality of these first printings was very high, what is endorsed by the research of Marcia Abreu. She tracked down the commercial activities of Paul Martin, a book producer from Lisbon who regularly did order books to be composed in Impressão Régia — although it was easier to make them in Lisbon.
    Back to the book Fernando refers, it was printed in a large format (29,5 cm tall) in 14pt. This is registered by Hallewell and by a historical book made in Imprensa Régia to celebrate its 150 years. The Elzevir reference comes from that:

    Is it really Elzevir or, like Scott-Martin pointed, another type barely derived from the Dutch model? I believe we need more comparisons to get an answer. Some images would surely help. And we also need to consider there isn't one Elzevir but several cuts made during several decades.

    Anyway, the information above came directly from the print house. And most books printed there until ~1815 also are reported as using Elzevir. An interesting question.

    Note this other sample from the book:

    Italics are compatible with most Elzevir samples I saw. And here there is no M with reversed-contrast. Actually, this odd M should be disregarded as a clue to identify the typeface because it just appears in the front page. In all the remaining pages, body text is composed with a proper M:

    To get more visual information, here is a sample from another book printed by Imprensa Régia, in 1809:

    This is also reported as using Elzevir, in 10pt and 8pt:

    As I said before, there is a second typeface here. You can notice it in the line "NA IMPRESSÃO REGIA" two images above. Odd M, clearly different R, and no tilde! It may be not an English design, but came from London, show a transitional style and lacks Portuguese accented characters. This was a typical problem in early printings made in Portuguese language, visible in the book title:

    This is what I mean by "made with other pieces". The display size typeface has no tilde or cedilla. Ã was built with a small J and Ç is made with an upside-down small ç. This seems to indicate a typeface cut to be used only in English texts. A French set would never lack Ç as it is part of French alphabet. This kind of improvisation was also present in the aforementioned 1747 book:

    Of course, when historians and researchers talk about quality, they refer to body text. These adaptations in display sizes cannot be regarded as good quality and were strangely common since early 1700s. See again the lack of proper Portuguese characters in this book printed in Lisbon in 1717, making Ç and Õ with other pieces —here, with C and (:

    Sorry for the large post. Hope this would be useful.

    Please let me know if you want PDF version of these books or further information.
  • Re: Proper weight instance progression for a multiple master

    I've been thinking about this a lot lately and discovered something interesting. The CSS font-weight# progression (at least how they're described here) follows the nearly exact opposite Ogee curve from the Impallari progression:

    The best-fit Ogee curve of this progression is given by the purple dashed line while the true CSS values are the connected blue dots.

    NOTE: The exact names/values in this extended set of CSS values (or whether the values outside of the round 100s are even valid) can be debated, but that's not important. The purple Ogee curve is the important part.

    Here's my take on the weight progression: Does each weight look different enough from both its neighboring weights? I found that the Impallari progression means too little differentiation on both light and heavy ends of the weight spectrum. Why? Take a look at this chart:

    The 1-18 index refers to the CSS weight designations above, of course. That's what each progression looks like, but if that's too abstract for you, try this set of graphs instead which represent the relative weight (as if they were stem thickness, for example):

    Have a good long look at that. Notice anything? We can talk ratios all day, but here are some general observations:

    - Linear: Lighter weights are more distinct, gradually becoming less distinct as the weight increases.
    - Impallari: Lighter weights are less distinct, middle weights are more distinct, heavier weights are less distinct.
    - CSS: Lighter weights are more distinct, middle weights are less distinct, heavier weights are more distinct.
    - Lucas: Lighter weights are less distinct, gradually becoming more distinct as the weight increases.

    I tend to like the CSS progression best because most of the spectrum ends up being distinct from its neighbors. I also like that the body text weights (Book/350, Text/375, Normal/400, Thick/425, and ExtraThick/450 on these charts) are different enough, but similar enough to offer "grades" to work with, depending on the target medium.

    The golden question: What's the right approach? There are all sorts of progressions one can try. As has kind of been the consensus already, you're going to have to eyeball it ;). The above observations can at least guide you depending on how you'd like the progression to pan out.

    My two cents.

    P.S. I think it would be interesting to survey some of the super families and measure their stem thicknesses to see how their weights progress.
  • Frere-Jones Type is hiring a Typeface Designer

    Frere-Jones Type is hiring a Typeface Designer! This is a full-time position at Frere-Jones Type’s office in Brooklyn, New York. The position centers on the design, production and demonstration of new digital typefaces, under the direct supervision of Tobias Frere-Jones. 

    Please see details and how to apply here:

  • Re: Style naming for font menus

    Moving forward, I'm hoping that the new STAT table will eventually replace much of the name table functionality with regard to menu names. The trouble with the name table approach is that it is neither flexible nor easily extensible. Every time software comes up with a new way of accessing font variants or a new way of presenting fonts to users, we needed a new name table ID, a new name table version, etc.. The STAT table is designed to record font variants as attributes, with the idea that font menus could be built on-the-fly from the STAT entries, and even allow for users to say how they prefer fonts to be sorted, organised, and names in menus.
  • Re: MyFonts and families

    I’m not quite so pessimistic. 
    Having worked as an art director with some appreciation for type, I would often find it very difficult to find the typeface that was just right for a job.
    And that is why I would licence a new one.
    Also, one comes to realize that the original is better than the clones, and some typefaces just are quite unique.
    Others, new, just seem right for the time.

    Also, bear in mind that many designers don’t like to cheat, and many work for businesses that play it straight with properly licensed software, because they are concerned about the legal ramifications of piracy, as well as bug issues.
  • Re: Pronunciation of "De Vinne"

    The surname is pronounced “de vinney.” My authority on this is second-hand, but closely so. The American printer T.J. Lyons (1892–1986), who was a friend and mentor of mine, was a friend of the person who had installed the first Linotype machines at De Vinne’s plant on Lafayette Street, in New York City. The building still stands today.

  • Re: How to make a font in 9 hours

    He's really got that attention to detail thing nailed. 
  • Re: Web Font Security

    Hey @Joshnychuk! :) This might not be what you’re looking for really, but my (strongly held) opinion is that trying to prevent someone downloading your webfonts is impossible, and thus lost time that you can spend on way better things.

    If someone wants to download it they can download it, no matter what you do against it. Subsetting is always a good idea (to optimize load times) but other than that, I wouldn’t spend a single minute on any of the techniques.
  • Re: Sound + fonts

    I made some experiments turning contours into waveform loops a while ago: 
  • Re: Punctuation Space U+2008

    I asked around and was referred to Ken Whistler, who provided this background, posted with his permission...

    " Indeed. These fixed-width and other special spaces all date to Unicode 1.0, and their proximate source was the Xerox Character Code Standard. (XCCS 1980)

    The punctuation space can be traced to:

    XCCS 0xEE 0x24 "Punctuation space (fixed, device dependent, and normally nonprinting)"

    The "normally nonprinting" note that is associated with this character (and several others of these fixed-width spaces) may have something to do with the Xerox Star implementation -- not sure. You'd have to check with Joe Becker to see if he recalls how the Xerox systems implemented these spaces.