Matthew Carter's definition of 'revival'

Hi there,

Carter's definition of typographic revival ('A revival is a typeface created in a previous technology and reinterpreted for modern contemporary requirements') is frequently quoted. My question is: do you know where was this sentence originally published?  

Thanks in advance.

Comments

  • Ramiro EspinozaRamiro Espinoza Posts: 756
    edited March 2016
    To my surprise, this is Matthew Carter's answer in a private email:

    "I don't remember saying or writing that definition, but maybe I did somewhere, although I wouldn't normally use a tautology such as "modern contemporary," and to use the verb "created" of a typeface sounds unfamiliar to me".
  • Ramiro EspinozaRamiro Espinoza Posts: 756
    edited March 2016
    Donald Beekman does not remember either.
  • SiDanielsSiDaniels Posts: 273
    John Downer might be someone to talk to as well. I know he has some views in this area and might have come across this in his research.  
  • I sort of remember Downer reproducing the (apocryphal?) quote so I checked his well known article "Call It What It Is" but there is no mention of Carter in it. 
    I will probably send him and email as well.
  • The sentence comes from a John Downer's article published in Emigre No. 38 (The Authentic Issue). I couldn't find it online. Is there someone there who has the issue and is willing to send me a scan? 
  • SiDanielsSiDaniels Posts: 273
    Might have been republished in the SoTA magazine?
  • No idea. In don't have it either...
  • SiDanielsSiDaniels Posts: 273
    Looks like a different article... http://www.typecon.com/download/interrobang_2.pdf
  • The sentence comes from a John Downer's article published in Emigre No. 38 (The Authentic Issue). I couldn't find it online. Is there someone there who has the issue and is willing to send me a scan? 
    Here’s the “Call It What It Is” essay by John Downer:
    http://www.emigre.com/Editorial.php?sect=2&id=1
  • @Jeff Kellem This is not the article published in Emigre 38, but the one published in Tributo's booklet. In your article there is no mention of Matthew Carter.
  • Neither John Downer's articles are the one published in Emigre 38
  • Jerry Kelly gave an informative and well-illustrated talk at the ATypI conference of 2008, titled “Type revivals: What are they? Where did they come from? Where are they going?”.
  • Ramiro EspinozaRamiro Espinoza Posts: 756
    edited March 2016
    @Maxim Zhukov Thanks Maxim, but the purpose of this thread is to find out if there is evidence that the definition attributed to Matthew Carter was is in fact by Matthew Carter.
  • SiDanielsSiDaniels Posts: 273
    Sorry for sending folks Downer rabbit hole. :-)
  • Maxim ZhukovMaxim Zhukov Posts: 74
    edited March 2016
    I am unsure of the authenticity of that definition you quoted not only because it’s marred by tautology, or uses the pompous verb “created”. I find it unlikely that Carter could claim that a type revival’s raison d’être is mere repurposing for a new technology.
  • Matthew is definitely one of my all-time heroes and I admire his work deeply (has anyone ever made better contours than he?*). So, if the following sounds blasphemously, then that was not at all my intention.

    What I mean, is that Matthew’s definition (tautologically or not) of a revival is what a revival is –irrespective of the reason for reinterpreting the historic model, like aesthetic preferences. Basically all of us would come up with the same definition, I reckon. Perhaps the only one that could have disagreed, was Jan van Krimpen because he disliked revivals so much. Having been an apprentice of Rädish, perhaps Matthew has encountered that –but that is a bit off-topic.

    *no
  • Ramiro EspinozaRamiro Espinoza Posts: 756
    edited March 2016
    Well, but if Carter can't remember saying it and Downer can't recall either from where he took it (so far), then perhaps we should start placing the name of John Downer (or Frank Blokland) under it :)
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 1,774
    I find it unlikely that Carter could claim that a type revival’s raison d’être is mere repurposing for a new technology.

    I don't think the quote — with whomever it originates — makes that claim; rather, it simply describes what a revival is, without exploring the reasons why someone might choose to re-make this or that typeface available in a new technology or, indeed, why someone might choose not to.

  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,478
    My definition:

    New version of a previously published typeface, which may or may not adhere closely to the original design, after a passage of time in which taste and/or technology change(s) significantly.

    This covers the Caslon revival of 1844 (from original matrices), as well as Zapf and Frutiger’s re-workings of Optima and Frutiger. 

  • SiDanielsSiDaniels Posts: 273
    I like Nick's definition but isn't there also an element of taking advantage of font consumers too. Taste and technology may not have changed significantly, but just enough to trick the gullible.
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,206
    Si, Is there a difference between a revival and a resuscitation?
  • Si, Is there a difference between a revival and a resuscitation?
    In common typographic parlance, there isn’t. The term revival, if you want to explain it to a layperson in a watertight manner, is really tough. It encompasses quite a lot of things. Nick mentions the Caslon revival in 1844, which used (at least mostly) eighteenth century matrices.

    The early-twentieth-century revivals (I think), are much different animals from the Caslon revival. When ATF revived Bodoni and Garamond, for instance, they – in essence –looked at books printed in Bodoni’s types and – ahem – Jean Jannon’s types, and drew their own new designs based on these, which were then cast for hand-setting. Monotype, particularly in the UK, revived a good many classic types via a similar process; their product was not exactly the same as ATF’s … they produced matrices which were intended to be used in their machines for printers to cast their own type.

    Naturally, the word revival did not come into English from typographers, printers, or typefounders. It has at least two older uses: There are the religious revivals, which were quite a wide-spread phenomenon in the pre-revolutionary United States, among other places, and then there are the architectural revivals. The most wide-spread of the architectural revivals, the Gothic Revival, had already been going in in Britain for some time when the Caslon revival in printing occurred. In architecture (and the decorative arts) there were also Greek Revivals, Egyptian Revivals, Romanesque Revivals, etc. You can see their effects all over British and North American cities, and to a lesser extent, perhaps, in continental European cities, too.

    The Caslon revival, in terms of authenticity, was much truer to the original types of William Caslon than the concurrent Gothic Revival in architecture was to buildings constructed in the Middle Ages. The architectural revivals are more akin to what e.g., ATF and Monotype (but also Linotype and every virtually every European typefoundry) were doing in the nineteen-teens and nineteen-twenties.

    I would be all for calling the Caslon revival, and revivals that are more like that (such as Berthold’s ca. 1919 release of Walbaum, and Stempel’s first version of Janson) resuscitations – or simpler still, re-uses – instead of revivals. But I fear that the horse has already left the stable here. Revival is the dirty term that we’ve received for everything that was old which became new again, and nothing we write going forward is likely ever to change that.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,478
    edited March 2016
    Another term, a sub-category of revival: facsimile.

    Poliphilus was made by copying photographic images of old type.
    A similar process to how William Morris made the Golden Type, apparently—by tracing over photos of Jenson typography, but with a very different intent. 

    Of all the Jenson revivals, Benton’s Cloister has most of that intent, IMO.

    When I did Scotch Modern, the idea was to make fonts that could create a close facsimile of 19th century typography. So, definitely not “reinterpreted for modern contemporary requirements”…unless being able to create a facsimile of old typography is considered a contemporary requirement!



    Other fairly recent fonts with the same idea: Hoefler’s Fell Types, Mark Simonson’s Metallophile, and Justin Howes’ Founder’s Caslon


  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 1,774
    Nick mentions the Caslon revival in 1844, which used (at least mostly) eighteenth century matrices.

    The term revival applied to the mid-19th Century use of Caslon really means a revival of use of Caslon, which had fallen out of fashion for some decades. The foundry provided electrotyped matrices to Charles Whittingham, whose Chiswick Press had instigated the revival, but I wouldn't consider this process a revival in the type design sense.

    The 1920s Caslon Old Face, on the other hand, is very much a type design revival, despite the publicity claims of the types being 'cast entirely from matrices produced from the original punches engraved in the early part of the 18th Century'. The entire type was, in fact, re-cut, with significant regularisation of the design.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,478
    edited March 2016
     I wouldn't consider this process a revival in the type design sense.

    Perhaps not in the strictest sense, but that’s why I mentioned it in the first place, because the “the revival of the Caslon types” is well established in type history*, and any definition of revival must therefore encompass this usage.

    *James Mosley uses the term. 
  • Yeah, I agree. Several historical narratives of the revivals of older types begin with Caslon in the 1840s, and while (as John points out) this is a different thing that what later founders and designers meant by a revival, we are still left with the received historical problem, and I think that it has been with us for so long that we are just stuck with it.

    [This 1840 Caslon revival is probably not the first time that something referring to type usage has been filed under type design, or vice versa.]

    Revival is a pretty yucky term. It is too broad, and it means different things to different people. But, that’s type! We are always going to have terminology problems like this :-D
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 1,774
    Perhaps not in the strictest sense, but that’s why I mentioned it in the first place, because the “the revival of the Caslon types” is well established in type history*, and any definition of revival must therefore encompass this usage.
    Not necessarily encompass: it's arguably a different usage and hence a different definition. The usage of 'revival' re. the Chiswick Press use of Caslon types isn't in any way specific to typography or indicative of processes in the design, redesign or manufacture of type. It is simply the common usage of revival to mean a renewed interest and enthusiasm for a thing that had previously fallen out of fashion: e.g. the revival of flares, or the revival of offal on restaurant menus. Nowadays, we might characterise the 1840's use of Caslon types by the Chiswick Press as 'retro'.

    This usage does have in common with type design revivals, though, the notion of a period of disuse or unavailability, so perhaps this should be the defining aspect of both, such that, for instance, conversion of hot metal types to phototypesetting wouldn't constitute revival because there was no intervening period of unavailability.
  • Revival is the dirty term that we’ve received for everything that was old which became new again […]


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