Historical background of De Vinne, Howland and other related late 19th century american typefaces

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  • Kent LewKent Lew Posts: 900
    Along the lines of De Vinne, David Jonathan Ross’s Roslindale has emerged recently as a pretty successful homage.
  • Kent Lew said:
    Along the lines of De Vinne, David Jonathan Ross’s Roslindale has emerged recently as a pretty successful homage.
    Yes, it’s very nice. But, albeit very carefully drawn and faithful to the spirit (i.e. not straying away much compared to late 1960s and 1970s reinterpretations like Bernase or Trooper Roman) is a revisitation.
    Myself, for now I am trying to get into the forms and the “spirit of the times” to attempt some pretty faithful digital versions, then I might see what they inspire me. :)
  • I am trying to figure out how many capital /S/ forms De Vinne was originally produced with.
    I always believed it just had the basic form (whose counters are pretty open compared to other letters) and the swashed, more decorative one.

    But on close inspection, I found that it seems there is a third capital form, which in the later versions called "De Vinne No. 2" from ATF is also used in the lowercase, and this form, which can be seen in the scan below (early Central Type Foundry specimen) in the first line in 48 pt size, is rounder (with rounder counters), and more harmonized with the other capitals. The decorative form, in its lowercase version, can be seen in the second line of the picture in 42 pt size.

    What do you think? For historical accuracy I’d be oriented to keep all three, but I wished to know how widely the second form was used in earlier years, as the first seem to predominate.


  • Any opinion on this? I know it’s not easy to historically determine whether the three forms of "S" were already there in 1892 (it appears so) and if there is something about this. The two forms are documented (many period uses too) but the third not so much… :-( 
  • Jacob CasalJacob Casal Posts: 95
    It will take a few weeks maybe, but I think I can get you some pictures of DeVinne /S/s and /s/s that aren’t just scans. For now I think there are two pairs of styles per lowercase and capital /S.  I’ll follow up on this message later. :)
  • It will take a few weeks maybe, but I think I can get you some pictures of DeVinne /S/s and /s/s that aren’t just scans. For now I think there are two pairs of styles per lowercase and capital /S.  I’ll follow up on this message later. :)
    Ooh, thank you. Yes, surely two, for the uppercase definitely three but what’s not clear to determine is whether they were there when it was released to begin with.
    Surely the later versions, the Monotype one (I believe) uses the “smoother” and more harmonious form of /S.
  • Jacob CasalJacob Casal Posts: 95
    Claudio! As promised the type is here. I have organized to have some high quality macro shots taken for archival purposes. It is a set of metal 30pt De Vinne, spacing included. It’s going to take some time to take good top down pictures. Evidently there was a 36pt condensed around as well, but I’ve yet to find it. I’ll post more details when the good pictures have been taken.
    Here is a rough sneak peek of /S taken via a regular camera.
  • Claudio! As promised the type is here. I have organized to have some high quality macro shots taken for archival purposes. It is a set of metal 30pt De Vinne, spacing included. It’s going to take some time to take good top down pictures. Evidently there was a 36pt condensed around as well, but I’ve yet to find it. I’ll post more details when the good pictures have been taken.
    Here is a rough sneak peek of /S taken via a regular camera.
    That is very good and much appreciated! I haven’t been able to work on it for the last ten days or so, so it will be very timely.
    Although I am working on a master based on 60-72 point samples, it will be great to have an overall sampling of the 30 point size.

    My initial idea was to tackle Howland to pass to DeVinne Condensed, and familiarize with the forms while doing a digital version as accurate as possible, but I realized it‘s better to “grasp” the essence of the forms starting with the Roman. And this, of course, will take time.
  • I haven’t been updating the thread because I began working on De Vinne and temporarily stopped Howland. In the meantime I have also started a new typeface of mine inspired by Howland and other period condensed styles.

    However, knowing my “dispersion potential” I just picked it up again and fixed a pair of letters. Following Craig’s advice, for the glyphs which presents apparently "unsmoothed" inconsistent solutions, I am working to keep both version: a more faithful and a harmonized one.
    I still have to restore the "vertical“ counterspaces in /C and /G but here’s an updated Fontlab screenshot with the /Os, /Q and /8 in their more "philological" forms… :-)

    The basic character set is not fully complete yet, so I haven’t generated the font yet.
  • Ah! the good old inconsistencies…
    I’m wondering how to be faithful to the original form(s)…  :/
  • Jacob CasalJacob Casal Posts: 95
    It’s a tough call, to be sure. I’m not sure as to how much material using the typeface is available to you, but I would likely look within each size for the most common angle of the spine and how often the sharper angle at the end of the spine occurs across all /S’s as a start. In the end it seems to come down to the eye arbitrating which one seems like it belongs with the other letters most. There’s also the off-chance of the idiosyncrasies themselves being intentional.
  • There’s also the off-chance of the idiosyncrasies themselves being intentional.
    Thanks much for the considerations and advice to begin with.
    Being entirely intentional: I’d say it’s not the case, not given the arbitrary nature of them across point sizes.
    To answer your question: in point sizes lower than 24 letters tend to be homogeneous in form, so it’s mostly a matter of the bigger sizes.
    I have also discovered from a specimen that point sizes 72, 96 and 120 were produced afterwards, and this at least partly explains the differences in design (/S for them is wider and no spur/sharp angle), so I’d stick with sizes not above 60 for my initial master which have to be consistent with the text/subtitling masters I would like to add afterwards.
  • @Mark Simonson, which I thank a lot, recently gave me some precious advice on Howland, that (with his permission) I want to share here.

    «It’s quite odd, some of the inconsistencies, almost as if different people worked on different sizes and had different opinions. Or it could just be that the designer felt that exact consistency from size to size was unnecessary or didn't matter.

    My inclination would be to pick the form that is most representative of the variations, or even the one you prefer. I don't think it would be that useful to include alternates when the differences are subtle enough that most users would probably not notice. 

    Doing a display and text version makes a lot of sense, since they are so different, and would satisfy 99% of the reasons (in my opinion) of doing a Howland revival. Reviving all the little differences between different cuts would be less worthwhile.

    I always try to think of the users and not just what would be interesting or satisfying to me to do.»

  • It’s quite odd, some of the inconsistencies, almost as if different people worked on different sizes and had different opinions. Or it could just be that the designer felt that exact consistency from size to size was unnecessary or didn't matter.
    On this, I’d be inclined to second the first supposition, as John F. Cumming was enough precise when he wanted to be. Some of his designs at least show this.
  • Claudio PiccininiClaudio Piccinini Posts: 229
    edited July 14
    An important italian use of Ihlenburg's Columbus (or – after 1899 – "Victor Hugo" as recut in Italy by Nebiolo, and – in the early 1900s – "Columbia" as recut by italian foundry Urania), on the cover of the first edition of Dino Campana’s "Canti Orfici" (1914).

    The story of this book, besides its importance, has been adventurous, and this aspect also extends to the design of the book, as featured in some articles by researcher Massimo Gatta. More information here on Wikipedia (unfortunately, in italian only): https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canti_Orfici




  • FYI Columbus as "Columbia", in an Urania catalog from 1909 (I recall I sent the scans to @Thomas Phinney when he was still in the early stages of his digital version of Columbus). :-)



  • To show the impact the book has had in italian culture, some recent materials making use of Columbus: a concert logo, a leaflet issued for the centennial celebrations of the book and a poster for a "musical marathon.

    All of these apparently make use of one of the pre-existing (bad) digitizations of Columbus floating around before Thomas started his project for a better digital version.




  • Stephen ColesStephen Coles Posts: 765
    edited August 11
    Claudio, just came across an ad for Howland in the September 1899 issue of Inland Printer in which they announce new large sizes (72–120pt) not shown in previous ATF catalogs. I love how they use it in that narrow sidebar. The big Jenson Heavyface is great too, though that ‘S’ was rushed off the line.


  • Claudio, just came across an ad for Howland in the September 1899 issue of Inland Printer in which they announce new large sizes (72–120pt) not shown in previous ATF catalogs. I love how they use it in that narrow sidebar. The big Jenson Heavyface is great too, though that ‘S’ was rushed off the line.
    Ooh, thanks. Very nice of you. I was just talking with Antonio (Cavedoni) about this, and I’ll probably pick up the search once again in short.
    The "new sizes" 72-100pt, are – de facto – almost a different design. Some letters (/S, /R but even /E, a very large /C /a etc.) are very different from the larger pre-existing sizes (48-60pt).
    As insightfully pointed out by Mark Simonson, there are a lot of inconsistencies across sizes, so – while in some cases these are worthy to be somewhat preserved, in some cases – when a letter is too different across sizes – the best choice seems to capture the "average essence" of the letter.
    My design so far is closely based on 48-60 pt sizes, I’m striving for a high degree of respect of the originals, but nonetheless, choices must be made. :)
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