Typeface timeline

Hi there, I am looking for some kind of infographic, or a database so that I could make my own infographic, that shows the number of typeface releases (either for a specific foundry like Monotype or a country or worldwide) on a timeline of the 20th and 21st centuries! It is for my dissertation, so any help would be very much appreciated!

Comments

  • Paul HanslowPaul Hanslow Posts: 113
    It would be best to focus on 1 foundry or very specific region, as releases dramatically increased in the 20th century onwards. For the sake of not writing too much, and also because I'm a bit lazy, I'll avoid going into why this is so.
    Tackling ALL typefaces, form a worldwide perspective, would be a massive undertaking so I'd stick to one major foundry. This also becomes complicated as some foundries get acquired by another foundry resulting in typefaces transfer to the new company, therefore the history of typeface releases isn't exactly straight forward.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,539
    What are you trying to show?

    The data for releases by any single foundry, however large, vs releases by all foundries, even within a geographic regon, are both quantitatively and qualitatively different. As an infographic, they will look very different and represent something different. The number of releases by any single foundry, even a prolific one, is limited by the number of internally or externally developed typefaces that it can produce or procure in a given amount of time, which is limited by the number of people working, the amount of capital available, etc. But the biggest factor affecting the total number of new typefaces in the past thirty years has been the growing number of new foundries, including individual designer foundries. So an infographic for any single foundry is likely a wiggly line showing more or fewer releases each year, possibly with some spikes where a foundry acquires a collection or another foundries’ output, while an infographic showing collective releases by all foundries is likely a long wiggly line representing the 20th Century, possibly with a dip towards the end of the Century as some foundries failed to make the transition to digital and closed down (e.g. ATF), followed by a strong and now rapidly steepening upswing in the new millennium.
  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,898
    MyFonts lists the date a typeface first appeared on MyFonts. You might be able to convince them to dump it to a file for you. But it wouldn’t have accurate dates for typefaces that appeared somewhere else first, which would probably be thousands of fonts.

    There are books with this stuff in them, although getting the dates from the books to digital would be an incredible amount of work. If you have money you could probably outsource the work to a cheap data entry firm. American Metal Typefaces of the Twenty Century, Encyclopedia of Typefaces, History of the Linotype Company, and Modern Encyclopedia of Typefaces cover metal and a lot of photo type. Fontbook (fourth edition, 2006) and Linotype A Z contain dates for thousands of digital fonts, although revivals show the original year of design and not the date of the digital version. The three Indie Fonts books have dates for thousands of fonts by independent designers from the 1990s and early 2000s, they have stuff that’s not in Fontbook or the Linotype book.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,951
    I anticipate an exponential curve.
  • rosea14rosea14 Posts: 4
    thank you for all of your responses!

    yes, this is a big question to tackle, i am trying to show how the typeface industry has grown exponentially in the last few decades. the overarching discussion for the dissertation is the typeface as a commercial commodity, and so i am trying to highlight at which point the industry changed into a place for anyone to make and sell their own typeface designs

    it would be very interesting to hear your thoughts on this topic!
  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,898
    rosea14 said:
    …and so i am trying to highlight at which point the industry changed into a place for anyone to make and sell their own typeface designs
    That’s an easy one to answer: 1985, when Emigre showed designers that they could design, build, test, and release typefaces on their own (albeit with the tedious work of putting the fonts on floppies, labeling the disks, packing the disks, and mailing them). Or March of 2000, when Myfonts started selling fonts and suddenly anybody could sell their fonts without even running a store by themself.
  • Stephen ColesStephen Coles Posts: 962
    edited January 7
    rosea14 said:
    i am trying to show how the typeface industry has grown exponentially in the last few decades
    This graph from the 2013 Typographica Census, showing the rise of new foundries, may help a bit. The increase from 2013–2023 is likely exponential. Many dozens per year.


  • Good points, James. The Census also includes a timeline, which mentions Emigre and online font distribution.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,951
    edited January 7
    rosea14 said:
    …and so i am trying to highlight at which point the industry changed into a place for anyone to make and sell their own typeface designs
    1. Fontographer, 1988
    2. eCommerce, 1998

    James:
    Or March of 2000, when Myfonts started selling fonts and suddenly anybody could sell their fonts without even running a store by themself.
    Makambo was an earlier independent distributor/reseller, in 1999.

    ***

    I produced many more typefaces before OpenType, when the standard was only a couple of hundred glyphs in a font: basic Western Latin and no features (pardon my Eurocentrism). The lessening of my output was offset, in the big picture, by all the new foundries entering the fray.
  • A couple of years I started on a website project aggregating font and designer information by scraping major distributor sites... every once in a while I come to think it would be worth picking it up again and finishing it into something browsable... the amount of data just is overwhelming, so it's hard to keep any kind of non-automated quality standard. As far as I recall the thing that requires the most manual interpretation is eliminating duplicates or different releases of the same typeface (or foundry names, for that matter), a problem that relates most to foundry mergers.
    For your research identifont.com might be quite a good database spanning the overall digital age. I cannot say, however, how well it captures very recent years in terms of overall volume increase, since, I believe, it is somewhat manually curated, so the supposed increase in number of releases per year listed may be more qualitative than quantitative.
  • A couple of years I started on a website project aggregating font and designer information by scraping major distributor sites... every once in a while I come to think it would be worth picking it up again and finishing it into something browsable...
    I started a similar project a few years ago but abandoned it for the same reasons (I think I've mentioned this in another discussion here). Scraping isn't required on some of the larger distributors since they have APIs you can use to access their data more easily.

    @rosea14 if you're looking for some large datasets, MyFonts and Fontspring both have APIs that you can sign up to access. You can also contact FontsInUse to request access to their API. Those are the largest datasets I'm aware of.
  • For 20th century there is some information about type manufakturers.

    VdS Kartei (typeface registration cards of the Association of [German] type manufacturers)
    ~1910-1950: estimated ~2698 typefaces, downloadable at http://www.klingspor-museum.de/Verein-der-Schriftgiessereien-VdS.html

    - Handbuch der Schriftarten (Germany)
    http://www.klingspor-museum.de/Handbuch-der-Schriftarten.html
    1926: 3572 
    1927: 115
    1929: 350
    1930: 300
    1931-32: 200
    1939-35: 240
    1936-37: 300
    1938-180: 180

    Sum: 5257 (numbers are estimated based on the number of index pages)

    International Type Designer Archive

    http://www.klingspor-museum.de/Kuenstler/Kuenstler_A.html

    12,350 Designers

    And many other informations on http://www.klingspor-museum.de/index.html
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