TypograFriday: Taschen’s Type 1

We’re type geeks for sure. But, then there are the Jonathan Hoeflers and Robert Lees of the world, who collect type sample books from centuries past and trade anecdotes about the quirkiness of the editions. Now, with Taschen’s help, we can aspire to join their elite level of type-geekery.


Type. A Visual History of Typefaces and Graphic Styles, Vol. 1 reproduces over a thousand pages from type specimens 1628 – 1900 (volume 2 will cover 20th century specimens). And it comes not with a CD, but with an account code to download high res scans from the originals, not printing-rosette’d reproductions. They are fantastic. Oh and the book is gorgeously hefty, matte-paged, and printed with spot-gold accents.

More pictures and type-talk after the jump.


There are a zillion things that are beautiful and inspirational in this tome; these are just a few that stood out to me. The book gives extensive crediting, but I am just too lazy to ID these images right now. If you’re really curious, ask and I will dig up the info (or just y’know buy the book).

“President” — this sample shows a particularly baroque curliqued sort of tuscan that I’ve never seen digitized, though handletterers like Margaret Kilgallen and Tim Biskup have revived its like.

“Edelweis” — it’s interesting to see how in the midst of the age of ornamentation innovative typographical layouts were already beginning to take shape. Type spec’d slightly different, this could almost be a Tschichold Kabel ad layout.

“Letterhead” — As a typegeek social climber, I am going to start namedropping Verlag Julius Klinkhardt. Their letterhead is so awesome, with its geometric scroll ribbons, flora and fauna and romanticized smokestacks, script and italic and shadowed blackletter, it had my attention before even starting into the terrific calligraphic penmanship of the correspondence. The image that we were able to download from Taschen has this at like ten times this size, and it’s delicious.

“FS” — Ornamental oneupsmanship, burgeoning modernist spirit and regulations against giant type forced typesetters into creating letters out of rules and ornaments. This is actually letterforms that just look as if they’re made out of frilly borders and inset precious stones. Very Louis XIV.

“Quosque” — Caslon specimen reminds me how much I like Caslon and especially its weird italic. It’s funny that a digital type this uneven and quirky would probably not catch my eye but just try to deny how lovely this looks printed.

“Giesserei” — most of the images in the book are of pages from specimen books, but there are some incredible covers and endpapers too. Call me a child of the 70s if you will, but I love this tight color scheme of black, yellow-green, mustard yellow, yellow-orange and a tiny important bit of pale blue.

“8” — I included this to show a tight detail of how fantastic these scans are. In this one, you can see the bleed of ink on paper, the thicker ink at the edge of the indention, the inclusions in the paper.

Finally, speaking of 8, an anecdote from earlier this week: my type designer friend Jesse posted on facebook that he’d spent an overlong time drawing an 8. I ventured that it was all the trouble of a “g” and none of the reward, which he said was well put. Given that his status updates are sometimes commented upon by the likes of Thomas Phinney and John Downer, and given that my comment was glib and not from having ever put the time into putting together a set of numerals, the Type Gatsby in me thrilled in this affirmation. It made my week.

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