ATypI's (old) stance on cloning vs. yours

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  • Albert_Jan_Pool Albert_Jan_Pool Posts: 66
    edited February 5
    I concur with Mark. There are many Bitstream revivals that are unique. One of the most obvious may be their Futura, which is very different from Linotype’s and any other version. It’s more of a redesign more than a revival.


    Stephen, I think that what you refer to as Futura (Linotype) is in fact (Adobe/Linotype). As far as I recall the first families that were released after the ‘LaserWriter 35’ were a kind of joint effort between Adobe and the Linotype offices in Frankfurt. Until Monotype, Berthold and Compugraphic also licensed Adobe BuildFont, a kind of predecessor of Adobe FDK, these fonts were all released as (Adobe/Linotype). The sources used to build the library were various. Adobe had started to digitize from sources unknown to me. Later on they bought IK-Data from URW and Linotype used their own IK-Data as a source. As a result, some of the (Adobe/Linotype) fonts did not match fonts rom the Linotype library that had the same name. A few years later, Linotype produced their own versions of these typefaces. One of the reasons was that Linotype did not want to share income with Adobe on fonts they considered as theirs in the first place. You can recognize these later Linotype versions because they have LH in the name. LH stands for Linotype/Hell as Linotype had acquired Hell. I wonder what Futura LH (seems to be defunct now) looks like in comparison with Futura BT. The Bitstream version has some aspects I usually connect with Linotype. In those years many Linotype typefaces still showed that they had been reworked to fit on the so-called duplex matrices. Duplex matrices typically had regular and italic or regular and bold on one matrix. Typefaces that were on the same set of matrices had to have identical widths. As a consequence regular, italic and bold had the same widths. In early phototypesetting, the idea was ‘advanced’ further. A typical font disc would carry regular, bold, italic and bold italic all on the same widths. As a result of this, the regular was rather wide and fitted loosely and the bold italic was quite narrow and the character fit twas tight. This is when Linotype decided to changge the italic angle of Univers from 18 to 12 degrees. Looking at Futura BT, I see a regular weight with an l, an i and an s which are widened/fit loosely in order to be width-compatible with their bold and bold italic counterparts. Characteristics which are typical to a Linotype face …
  • Albert_Jan_Pool Albert_Jan_Pool Posts: 66
    edited February 5

    Why bother about Bembo? It is a poor rendering of the original typeface anyway. No matter which version you take.
    As I mentioned, a revival will ultimately reveal how the source material was viewed at the time when it was made. Our way of interpreting what we see is, after all, largely shaped by the way in which we are conditioned. As such, Monotype Bembo is interesting, if only because of the obvious deviations from the original model. Especially when you realize how successful it has become.

    Frank, thank you for posting this comparison. It shows exactly what I referred to as “a poor rendering of the original typeface anyway”: Look at the horizontal strokes on ‘h’, ‘m’ and ‘n’, they are far too light, aren’t they? Each of these characters destroys the balanced grey value of the original. Even when considered relative to the stems, which are too thin too! The ‘o’ and the ‘g’ are far too wide, probably due to “Too much technical restrictions. 18 unit system, keyboard arrangement”. The curved stem of ‘h’ is typical to many scripts from the time Jenson cut his punches, copying these to the ‘n’ is what I refer to as “poor insight in typeface design of the draughtsmen that did the drawings”. The same might apply to the stroke protruding from the ‘e’, the horizontal curve of ‘t’ ending far too high and too thin, the diagonals of ‘K’ that were bent in a way unseen until Monotype did Bembo. 

    One of the reasons why I think that Bembo was such a success is that it was better than Monotype’s faux Garamond, which turned out to be based on punches by Jean Jannon. To many book typographers Monotype Garamond was too lively to suit the needs of proper book typography. Post-war Dante of course was an improvement but then, ‘everyone’ probably already got used to Bembo. Until Tschichold’s Sabon became en vogue, of course. The wide italic (due to the restrictions of Linotype system) was unpleasing (you can easily pee through the counter of the ‘o’ without leaving any stains), so again, some preferred to stay with Bembo. In my personal view, Adobe outdid Bembo by creating Adobe Jenson, Adobe Garamond and Garamond Premier. And the Berthold version of Garamond is great for body text. Sad it doesn’t have a display version though. And Sabon Next is an enormous improvement to the so-much compromised Sabon. Many other revivals of this kind of Old Style / Garalde have been designed ever since, so in my opinion there is no reason left for sticking with Bembo. Let alone ‘reviving’ it.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 1,836
    Many other revivals of this kind of Old Style / Garalde have been designed ever since, so in my opinion there is no reason left for sticking with Bembo. Let alone ‘reviving’ it.
    I'm generally in agreement with this sentiment. That said, I did enjoy getting to make my own version of Bembo as the companion Latin to Sanskrit Text (itself a redesign of Monotype Devanagari). The reasons why an existing typeface might be used as the basis of a derived design are numerous, and the notion of a 'revival' doesn't cover them all.


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