A Grand Romance

Hello everybody, 

I've been going through some of the typefaces I feel drawn to and I've realized that there's some finesse lacking in my collection. I enjoy setting some text in Granjon but I have come to understand some of the criticism directed towards it - all those claims of it being anaemic, anorexic, feeble. 

Leaving aside the usual suspects when it comes to signify typographical sophistication (Bodonis, Didots...), what is one left with when trying to convey some drama and, above all, romance? `

I would definitely get rid of the cute category, which I actually love, (Archer); the admittedly precious and refined (Mrs. Eaves) and the aforementioned Granjon.

Robert Bringhurst’s system of categorization (Baroque, Neoclassical, Mannerist…) seems extremely insightful to me. The problem is that beautiful, graceful typography has become somehow stale and reduced to a handful of types with a serious case of overuse.

Vogue magazine uses Sabon for some of its online content. It is indeed beautiful, but I wonder if there's another typeface that is better suited to convey that kind of grand, romantic, time-honored mood.  

Could someone please enlighten me and suggest a few typefaces that may play the (graceful) part? 


Thanks to everybody for the time, effort and patience.

Comments

  • I'd recommend the soon-to-come out Parnaso Text, by Mr Feliciano; or the more unusual Fourniers, e.g. Vizille (by Thierry Gouttenegre) or Helvetius (by Mathieu Cortat, now at 205TF). Speaking of Mr Cortat, his Louize is also a romance-friendly face. 
  • It is indeed a gorgeous typeface and surely the perfect one for certain kind of jobs. However, I guess my message was somehow misleading, as I actually meant text faces that tend to have a certain aura of romance about them. Bodonis, Didots, even Baskerville ones are good as they are but, above all, I am looking for the unappreciated, unsung gems that surely deserve a closer look before being discarded.

    I have seen Sabon characterized as having a romantic feel about it and it is probably used for a good reason in some of Vogue magazine online texts.

    So, forgive me for not having formulated well my former question. I will rephrase my question again. I am looking for text faces without too many flourishes and unnecessary ornamentation but that somehow manage to convey a sense of typography in past centuries: gentle, rounded forms (Granjon comes to mind, but it is indeed a bit too light) and a general feeling of beauty.


    Forgive me if my former message wasn't clear enough in its purpose.

    Thanks for your time, help, effort and patience.
  • Ah, OK. Well there are a ton of those... Maybe check out MVB's library. Others can give you much better recommendations I'm sure.
  • I'd recommend the soon-to-come out Parnaso Text, by Mr Feliciano; or the more unusual Fourniers, e.g. Vizille (by Thierry Gouttenegre) or Helvetius (by Mathieu Cortat, now at 205TF). Speaking of Mr Cortat, his Louize is also a romance-friendly face. 
    I will definitely will be checking those ones out.

    Thank you so much for the advice.
  • Well, if you are looking for something closer to Sabon… https://www.fontshop.com/families/sabon/similar
  • Joshua LangmanJoshua Langman Posts: 56
    edited December 2021
    For an unparalleled evocation of the letterpress era: Mark van Bronkhorst's ATF Garamond. Sumptuous and transportive. You can smell the ink and the old book paper.

    Also in a similar vein, Neacademia by Sergei Egorov, published by Rosetta Type. Hailed as the best digital Jenson ever.

    DTL Van den Keere is absolutely breathtaking.

    Try also Fontwerk's Romaine.

    See also the revivals of Iberian metal types, such as Rongel and Espinosa Nova.

    For slightly more postmodern takes on the romance of metal type, see Bronkhorst's Vergidris, Xavier Dupré's Garalda, Stefan Ellmer's Essay Test.

    Quadraat is thoroughly contemporary but has a certain literary romance to it.

    Rialto is quite romantic, in a more refined and delicate way. As are Opal, and the Stickley series from P22. Try also the Goudy "Garamont."

    I fell in love with Truesdell after reading a whole novel set in it. A bit otherworldly, of another time, not quite medieval.

    I may think of more. This is a genre or spirit of type design that I have spent much time exploring.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,860
    edited December 2021
    For truly grand, something with a small x-height.
    Because that means it has to be set at quite a large point size for adequate visibility, with a small character count per square cm/in.
    In other words, a disregard for material expense.

    In this respect, I’ve always liked Cochin, for its substantive capitals (love its odd italics too). To continue the French connection, Champlevé capitals.

    Certainly, these are odd types, no doubt lacking in saccharine grace, but to the manor born, where idiosyncrasy is de rigueur. 

    Two more paragons of the small-x, from the 1920s: Bernhard’s Lucian and Koch’s Antiqua.
  • I enjoy setting some text in Granjon but I have come to understand some of the criticism directed towards it - all those claims of it being anaemic, anorexic, feeble. 

    I’m not sure which version you refer to—perhaps the old, rather weak Linotype fonts? In my view, Granjon may have been the greatest punch cutter of all time. Look at all the types he made for Christophe Plantin. His nearly entire opus, in various scripts, can be found in Vervliet’s Conspectus. To describe them as “anemic, anorexic, feeble” is a terrible injustice.

    Nick Shinn: I’m not sure which Cochin you refer to, but perhaps the most “romantic” of the Peignot foundry's family issued in 1912 under that name is the titling face called Nicholas Cochin. It was once hugely popular—even D.B. Updike spoke well of it. Here is the revival by Elsner & Flake.


  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,860
    Yes, that’s the one. Look at the crossbar of \f, the “too-high” \3 and \5!
  • The alphabetics are lovely, albeit extreme.
    But those numerals seem like caricatures, not something one would actually use!
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,860
    edited December 2021
    Although it would be possible to normalize them somewhat in a layout program: <Baseline shift> to remedy \3 and \5, and <Vertical Scale> for \0, \1 and \2.

    Or swipe the figures from a different font.
  • Hmm. Both Granjon and Sabon are Garaldes, so the recommendation for a version of ATF Garamond has a chance of being of interest.
    In general, however, the type of question found in the initial post is a very difficult one to answer by naming a particular typeface. What is a typeface that conveys the feel of traditional typography, without being too ornate, too old-fashioned, and so on? That, of course, depends on the taste of the person asking the question!
    So perhaps the real answer is to identify a resource which provides the opportunity to look at typefaces one hasn't already seen. Or to ask for more examples from the original poster, to narrow down the point that is sought.
    And, of course, this is also a springboard for a more general question. It does seem, at least from a superficial glance at the most popular typefaces available, that they are split into two groups: those that are self-consciously modernistic, and those that adhere strictly to tradition. Typefaces that, instead, are solidly rooted in tradition, but yet refuse to allow themselves to be "dated", but insist on being fully usable in the present day are a much smaller category.
    But I can think of one example off-hand of a member of this smaller category: Hermann Zapf's Palatino.
    There certainly are other in-between typefaces which are still obviously not the rara avis that is being sought. Monotype's Imprint and Adobe Caslon, for example; they bring an older design into the modern age, yes, but they are entirely unassuming and practical. Cloister Lightface... is a Jenson that is dated to the era in which it was designed, instead of Jenson's time, but it is still dated instead of timeless. One could even call Times Roman something in-between, but while I do like the face, I would say that on balance it belongs to the "self-consciously modernistic" bin.
    So I am blaming market forces for this apparently very worthy category of typeface being hard to find.
  • The alphabetics are lovely, albeit extreme.
    But those numerals seem like caricatures, not something one would actually use!
    The history of Western printing includes a centuries-long campaign to tame Arabic numerals. It's really the original case of "Latinization." 

    Call me impractical but I kind of dig these instances of anti-conformism. 
  • In its context, there was nothing eccentric about these figures. The ascending 3 and 5 was typical of the style of the Didots, and you’ll find it in the revivals by Linotype and Typofonderie (both also offer non-ranging figures). Earlier, Fournier seems to have been on the fence about figure positions, and in many of his fonts, the positions of some figures varied. In his italic fonts, 5 was most often ascending, while the roman 5 was usually descending.

    Nicolas Cochin was not a typefounder, but rather a celebrated engraver of pictures. His lettering was always quite interesting and accomplished, becoming the inspiration for the series of fonts released in 1912 by Peignot & Cie.

  • The history of Western printing includes a centuries-long campaign to tame Arabic numerals. It's really the original case of "Latinization."

    You could say that.
    But in one important respect, of course, it lacks what is bad about Latinization.
    Instead of a group of people to whom the Latin script is foreign being pressured to modify their own script to conform to that of an alien culture because of its economic dominance - here, Arabic numerals are being modified by users of the Latin alphabet to better suit their own culture.
    So assimilating the Arabic numerals in this matter is moving in the direction of preserving a culture rather than in the direction of destroying it.
  • I can't imagine why anyone would have disagreed with my previous post. What I presented were matters of fact.
  • Christian ThalmannChristian Thalmann Posts: 1,772
    edited December 2021
    As for the original post, how about Cormorant?
    (Although you said text faces in a later post, so it's probably too delicate. If you can afford to set it large enough, though...)
  • I can't imagine why anyone would have disagreed with my previous post. What I presented were matters of fact.
    Ah, you were referring to the fact that it got one "Disagree" vote.
    I was looking, at first, only at the replies, and I was wondering if you were talking about me.
    But looking at your post, I can see how disagreement is possible withoug denying facts.

    Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend.
    Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.

    In the post in question, you wrote: "In its context, there was nothing eccentric about these figures."
    That's all very well, but a... disagreeable... person might say, all right, so I can't blame Nicholas Cochin as an individual, but then I'll blame Didot! Ignoring the specific context of Didones, these figures are so eccentric they look horrible, so the context of Didones is no excuse for inflicting that atrocity on anyone!

    So instead of disagreeing with your facts, someone might be disagreeing with the apparent implied conclusion in support of which it is believed the facts were presented: that we ought to give the typeface Nicholas Cochin a chance/respect/some love or whatever.



  • I'd recommend the soon-to-come out Parnaso Text, by Mr Feliciano; or the more unusual Fourniers, e.g. Vizille (by Thierry Gouttenegre) or Helvetius (by Mathieu Cortat, now at 205TF). Speaking of Mr Cortat, his Louize is also a romance-friendly face. 
    Thank you very much! : )
  • For truly grand, something with a small x-height.
    Because that means it has to be set at quite a large point size for adequate visibility, with a small character count per square cm/in.
    In other words, a disregard for material expense.

    In this respect, I’ve always liked Cochin, for its substantive capitals (love its odd italics too). To continue the French connection, Champlevé capitals.

    Certainly, these are odd types, no doubt lacking in saccharine grace, but to the manor born, where idiosyncrasy is de rigueur. 

    Two more paragons of the small-x, from the 1920s: Bernhard’s Lucian and Koch’s Antiqua.

    Thank you so much!
  • For truly grand, something with a small x-height.
    Because that means it has to be set at quite a large point size for adequate visibility, with a small character count per square cm/in.
    In other words, a disregard for material expense.

    In this respect, I’ve always liked Cochin, for its substantive capitals (love its odd italics too). To continue the French connection, Champlevé capitals.

    Certainly, these are odd types, no doubt lacking in saccharine grace, but to the manor born, where idiosyncrasy is de rigueur. 

    Two more paragons of the small-x, from the 1920s: Bernhard’s Lucian and Koch’s Antiqua.
    Thank you so much! : )
  • I enjoy setting some text in Granjon but I have come to understand some of the criticism directed towards it - all those claims of it being anaemic, anorexic, feeble. 

    I’m not sure which version you refer to—perhaps the old, rather weak Linotype fonts? In my view, Granjon may have been the greatest punch cutter of all time. Look at all the types he made for Christophe Plantin. His nearly entire opus, in various scripts, can be found in Vervliet’s Conspectus. To describe them as “anemic, anorexic, feeble” is a terrible injustice.

    Nick Shinn: I’m not sure which Cochin you refer to, but perhaps the most “romantic” of the Peignot foundry's family issued in 1912 under that name is the titling face called Nicholas Cochin. It was once hugely popular—even D.B. Updike spoke well of it. Here is the revival by Elsner & Flake.


  • Hmm. Both Granjon and Sabon are Garaldes, so the recommendation for a version of ATF Garamond has a chance of being of interest.
    In general, however, the type of question found in the initial post is a very difficult one to answer by naming a particular typeface. What is a typeface that conveys the feel of traditional typography, without being too ornate, too old-fashioned, and so on? That, of course, depends on the taste of the person asking the question!
    So perhaps the real answer is to identify a resource which provides the opportunity to look at typefaces one hasn't already seen. Or to ask for more examples from the original poster, to narrow down the point that is sought.
    And, of course, this is also a springboard for a more general question. It does seem, at least from a superficial glance at the most popular typefaces available, that they are split into two groups: those that are self-consciously modernistic, and those that adhere strictly to tradition. Typefaces that, instead, are solidly rooted in tradition, but yet refuse to allow themselves to be "dated", but insist on being fully usable in the present day are a much smaller category.
    But I can think of one example off-hand of a member of this smaller category: Hermann Zapf's Palatino.
    There certainly are other in-between typefaces which are still obviously not the rara avis that is being sought. Monotype's Imprint and Adobe Caslon, for example; they bring an older design into the modern age, yes, but they are entirely unassuming and practical. Cloister Lightface... is a Jenson that is dated to the era in which it was designed, instead of Jenson's time, but it is still dated instead of timeless. One could even call Times Roman something in-between, but while I do like the face, I would say that on balance it belongs to the "self-consciously modernistic" bin.
    So I am blaming market forces for this apparently very worthy category of typeface being hard to find.

    For truly grand, something with a small x-height.
    Because that means it has to be set at quite a large point size for adequate visibility, with a small character count per square cm/in.
    In other words, a disregard for material expense.

    In this respect, I’ve always liked Cochin, for its substantive capitals (love its odd italics too). To continue the French connection, Champlevé capitals.

    Certainly, these are odd types, no doubt lacking in saccharine grace, but to the manor born, where idiosyncrasy is de rigueur. 

    Two more paragons of the small-x, from the 1920s: Bernhard’s Lucian and Koch’s Antiqua.
    Thank you so much! : )
  • Thank you very much!
  • I can't imagine why anyone would have disagreed with my previous post. What I presented were matters of fact.
    Ah, you were referring to the fact that it got one "Disagree" vote.
    I was looking, at first, only at the replies, and I was wondering if you were talking about me.
    But looking at your post, I can see how disagreement is possible withoug denying facts.

    Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend.
    Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.

    In the post in question, you wrote: "In its context, there was nothing eccentric about these figures."
    That's all very well, but a... disagreeable... person might say, all right, so I can't blame Nicholas Cochin as an individual, but then I'll blame Didot! Ignoring the specific context of Didones, these figures are so eccentric they look horrible, so the context of Didones is no excuse for inflicting that atrocity on anyone!

    So instead of disagreeing with your facts, someone might be disagreeing with the apparent implied conclusion in support of which it is believed the facts were presented: that we ought to give the typeface Nicholas Cochin a chance/respect/some love or whatever.






  • I can't imagine why anyone would have disagreed with my previous post. What I presented were matters of fact.
    Ah, you were referring to the fact that it got one "Disagree" vote.
    I was looking, at first, only at the replies, and I was wondering if you were talking about me.
    But looking at your post, I can see how disagreement is possible withoug denying facts.

    Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend.
    Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.

    In the post in question, you wrote: "In its context, there was nothing eccentric about these figures."
    That's all very well, but a... disagreeable... person might say, all right, so I can't blame Nicholas Cochin as an individual, but then I'll blame Didot! Ignoring the specific context of Didones, these figures are so eccentric they look horrible, so the context of Didones is no excuse for inflicting that atrocity on anyone!

    So instead of disagreeing with your facts, someone might be disagreeing with the apparent implied conclusion in support of which it is believed the facts were presented: that we ought to give the typeface Nicholas Cochin a chance/respect/some love or whatever.






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