«wnaiHS IWiMBiiMi ABCDEFGHIJKL MNOPQRSTU VWXYZ abcdefghijklmn opqrstuvwxyz 123456789 W CASLON JUNR LETTERFOUNDER ■«UliM ■nnaiHi Capitals taken from Renaissance medals. Reproduced from Frank Choutecu ßrown's Letters and Lettering. The history of the serifless letter is not too complicated. These two pages should be sufficient to clear up at least one fairly false hypothesis and indicate the course of develop- ment up to the present. The hypothesis is the one which suggests that the sans-serif letter of today was based on Greek inscriptional letters of about the fifth Century B.C. It is only nec- essary to point out that the Greeks had no minuscule aiphabet, to damage this argument severly. The illustration of Renaissance capitals shows sans-serif letters that were used on med als; but this usage too is a long way from the proper foundation on which to base a type like Futura. To my mind, the most difficult part of the design of such a face lies in the lower case. The Solution to this problem could only come about gradually, over the centuries; and in the end it was a specific type-design project that could only be worked out in strict reference to the techniques and usage of the present day. There were, of course, earlier sans-serif types. Such a type appeared for the first time in a specimen sheet put out by William Caslon IV in 1816. This was a font of capital letters, not a successful type as far as can be judged. There was no follow-up until about 1832, when The sans-serif letter designed by Edward Johnston for the London Underground, 1919. It is still used on cars, posters and signs. Vincent Figgins and William Thorowgood cut sans-serif faces, which had a lower case and were more populär. Figgins called his type a "sans surryphs"; Thorowgood used the name grotesque Both of these terms are in use today: grotesque is used on the continent for letters without serifs in general; England in- clines toward a double usage; we have not used the word grotesque until quite recently, when the current mode for expanded display types was started. At this point it is best to define exactly what is rneant by sans serif as a Classification. To me, the normal face Futura book, the type used m this article is representative. It is a design in which the capitals have classic pro- portions, and in which the lower case is based mostly on traditional minuscule patterns. The capitals are not even widths; and the lower case is far from a picket-fence proposition in respect to spacing and arrangement. Super- ficially viewed, the strokes are all the same 2 6

Print Magazine en | 1953 | | page 28