Typefaces are sets of glyphs designed with stylistic unity, and a glyph is any basic symbol within a larger set of symbols and that represents a readable character in writing. Type design as defined today started with the printing press's advent. With digital type design's advent, the number of typefaces increased to a practically countless total, growing daily.
The terms typeface and font are often used interchangeably. But, technically, a typeface consists of fonts. A font is just one alphabet and its associated characters in a single size of type.
Typefaces are, broadly speaking, either serif or sans serif styles. Serif styles have serifs — little projections at a letter's edge — sans serif styles don't. These letters have serifs. These don't.
The main categories of serif typefaces are these and their derivatives —
The main categories of sans serif typefaces are these and their derivatives —
Each typeface category has subcategories, too. We won't get into that.
There are other major typeface styles such as script, which includes the category blackletter (a.k.a. Lombardic), typefaces modeled after manuscript lettering before the invention of the printing press. But the eight style categories above encompass the vast majority of typefaces.
Below: the famous transitional typeface Times New Roman, designed in 1932 for The Times newspaper of London.
It's uncommon for a non-designer like me to be interested typefaces. My interest came from a love of books and perhaps the colophons of books by publisher Alfred A. Knopf that would often include a descriptive blurb about the book's typeface. (Check out the post on The Millions website, "Praise the Colophon: Twenty Notes on Type.")
Lucian Bernhard (March 15, 1883 – May 29, 1972) was, "a German graphic designer, type designer, professor, interior designer, and artist." He was influential in creating the Plakatstil (German, "Poster Style") design of the early 1900s in Germany.
He was by no means among the most significant of type designers...it just happens that today's his birthday and I'd like to blog about typefaces. Also, on my personal letterhead I used to use a typeface, Berlin Sans, designed in 1994 by David Berlow (assisted by Matthew Butterick) that is a digital re-imagining of Bernhard's typeface designed in 1930. This article about Berlin Sans, on The Inquisition website, will tell you more than you'd ever care to know about that typeface.
Below: a sample of the Berlin Sans FB Regular font.
Thanks for reading.
Above: the Johnston typeface, a humanist sans-serif typeface named after Edward Johnston, its original designer. It's famously the typeface of the London Underground transit system. More about Johnston:
It was commissioned in 1913 by Frank Pick [and] in 1933 [was] integrated into London Transport.... The capitals of the typeface are based on Roman square capitals, and the lower-case on the humanistic minuscule, the handwriting in use in Italy in the fifteenth century. In this, it marked a break with the kinds of sans serif previously used, sometimes known as grotesque, which tended to have squarer shapes. [It] was redesigned in 1979 by Eiichi Kono at Banks & Miles to produce New Johnston, the variant of the original font currently used by London Underground.
*Didone is a portmanteau of Didot and Bodoni, two late 1800s serif typeface designs highly characteristic of what became the Didone style category of type.
Early zoology courtesy of The Aberdeen Bestiary (1100s, England), University of Aberdeen Library; accession number: MS 24. Special Collections Centre, Bedford Road, Aberdeen, Scotland, United Kingdom.
There is an animal called the beaver, which is extremely gentle; its testicles are highly suitable for medicine. Physiologus says of it that, when it knows that a hunter is pursuing it, it bites off its testicles and throws them in the hunter's face and, taking flight, escapes. But if, once again, another hunter is in pursuit, the beaver rears up and displays its sexual organs. When the hunter sees that it lacks testicles, he leaves it alone. Thus every man who heeds God's commandment and wishes to live chastely should cut off all his vices and shameless acts, and cast them from him into the face of the devil.
In his New Republic review "Creative Destruction", William Giraldi, novelist, critic, and editor for AGNI literary journal, offers an arresting overview of Scott Timberg's new book Culture Crash: The Killing of the Creative Class.
If you care about art and the humanities in America, brace yourself.
From the 1950s–1970s, there was for artists in America:
institutional support, low rents, a humming population in urban universities, an inviolable sense of a shared culture.... When Robert Lowell was reconfiguring American poetry in 1950s Boston, “a life of genteel poverty was still possible.”
No more. Considering a career related to the arts or humanities? Best to be a trust fund kid or marry rich.
When everyone’s an artist and no one spends money on art, art is stripped of any economic traction and serious artists can’t earn a living. Couple that with a population that overwhelmingly doesn't mind if art and artists go extinct and you have, ladies and gentlemen, what can be fairly called a crisis.
Giraldi notes that "whole throngs of onetime stable middle-class artists have been pummeled into a class where they feel the fangs of hunger."
The concept of the starving artist isn't recent. But that doesn't mean it's not a problem; that doesn't mean it's not a problem that it was less of a problem 30 or 40 years ago—before the decline of the middle class as a whole, before Reaganomics and globalization.
It's not all economics though.
There’s the long-standing and nationwide dedication to anti-intellectualism.... There’s the winner-take-all social credo that kills regard for any place other than first.... (Timberg calls it “blockbuster culture.”) There’s the [pull of] the more practical interests of science, business, and technology. There’s the widespread caricature of artists as eccentric idlers or unstrung cranks, romantic boobs, or sexed-up wastrels we might be better off without.
But, it's probably mostly economics, especially in our Internet age.
There are the Hobbesian market forces, the consumer-propelled capitalism so sweet for behemoth corporations who are its lungs and spleen but not so sweet for those artists who need to maintain their integrity outside the corporate sway.
But there remains this egregiously democratizing effect of the Internet: We believe that most online content is ours for the taking. The model of the online marketplace might be the chief obstacle preventing most middle-class writers and musicians from earning a living with their work, but it’s about time we, the users, come around to the moral side of the argument: We should purchase what we read and hear on our computers.
I used to think we might be entering a new era of art and scholarship patronage.
Given the extraordinary explosion of wealth among the top 1%, especially among the overlord class of the top 1% of the 1%, I used to harbor a feeble phantom hope that maybe America would enjoy a mini-renaissance, a flood of new funds filling the coffers artists, historians, documentarians, and artistic and cultural institutions and projects. After all, Charles and David Koch alone, who are known to give to the arts, are worth more than $100 billion. Just 10% of that is $10 billion for the arts and humanities.
Of course, I knew better. As I said, it was a feeble hope, not an expectation.
Giraldi notes that "at the hub of this mess is how we as a nation perceive our artists and stewards of culture"—specifically our reasoning that the market dictates the worth of all things. Giraldi describes this reasoning as our "bamboozled, depleted mentation", and we permit ourselves to follow it.
If you believe that the life of your mind is inseparable from the health of your life, that serious art and artists are an essential component to human nourishment, then you have an obligation, to yourself and your children and us all, to read Timberg’s book, and the minute you’re finished, to do something about the scourge it sets before you.
(This was written on February 28th before the news broke that Classics Declassified will be discontinued. I hope they make past Declassified lectures...declassified. It would be great if they were accessible online.)
I've been attending American Symphony Orchestra (ASO) concerts for several years. I especially enjoy attending the Classics Declassified series. Each concert of the series features an informative and entertaining lecture by the ASO's Music Director and Principal Conductor, Leon Botstein, concerning a famous composition that the orchestra then performs after a short post-lecture intermission. Botstein frequently calls upon the ASO's musicians to help him illustrate his points during the lecture, having them perform brief segments from the featured composition or other works.
As is evident in each lecture, Botstein, who is also longtime President of Bard College in Annandale-On-Hudson, New York, is erudite and possess an excellent dry wit.
One thing I've noticed over the years while attending the Declassified concerts, which are afternoon weekend performances and have an informal air compared to regular ASO concerts, is sartorial—and thus rather ridiculous, I admit. Botstein, who is partial to bow ties, sometimes wears a high-buttoned, unstructured black jacket with a shirt-like collar. Now, there are many worthy things to focus on regarding a Botstein lecture, and I've enjoyed discussing them with fellow subscribers during dinner after the concerts. But, I'll dare to delve into the trivial: What's the story with that jacket and where can I get one?
It's unfortunate that Botstein's Declassified lectures are not available online. The lectures would be excellent teaching tools for furthering music appreciation. But, I suspect there are contractual and legal constraints.
Botstein's lectures always place the featured composition in a larger musical context.
For example, in one lecture about Schumann, he discussed the War of the Romantics, which was a mid-1800s feud regarding the aesthetics of music. On one side were those aligned with Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms who preferred conservative forms of music and, as I understand it, looked to Beethoven as the fount of inspiration and source from which music should evolve. On the other side were those aligned with Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner who preferred new musical forms and looked to Beethoven and his symphonic ancestors as geniuses, of course, but also as exerting an influence to break away from so that music could go in more modern directions.
Here is a short video clip of Botstein talking about Beethoven's 5th Symphony, "a castle of four notes"; "it never wears out its welcome.... whatever tempo you take it, you can't kill it". In Beethoven's 5th, the symphony as a musical form becomes a dramatic essay.
Botstein's lectures also often touch on the composer's personal life and how it may or may not have affected, indirectly or directly, the composer's music. For instance: the question of how Brahms's music was influenced by his relationship with Robert Schumann's wife, Clara (who, it should be noted, was a musical child prodigy, pianist, and composer herself).
The Classics Declassified series is also one of the best deals in town. Only $25 a ticket if you subscribe to the series.
If you ever get a chance to attend a Classics Declassified lecture, I highly recommend it.
And keep your eye open for that jacket.
ASO on Twitter: @asorch
A new Web site: Leon Botstein Music Room
Lower image: Brahms and Wagner.
It was founded in 1840 as a chapel of ease "to spare parishioners the long uphill trek [from the foot of Mont Feland] to the ancient Parish Church of St Lawrence"* The renovation was funded by Jersey native Florence Boot, the widow of Jesse Boot, 1st Baron Trent (1850–1931), who substantially grew his father's herbal medicine shop in Nottingham, The Boots Company, into a national retail chain of chemists (U.S. English: "drugstores").
Jersey is one of the Channel Islands, which are British Crown dependencies in the English Channel. They are technically part of the Duchy of Normandy since 933 and not part of the United Kingdom. They suffered harsh occupation by Nazi Germany from June 1940 to May 1945.
*from the church's Web site's About page.
George Frideric Handel is probably best known for his musical compositions Messiah (1741) and Water Music (1717). A lesser-known work of his dates from 1713—the cantata Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne. It featured a libretto by English poet and Whig politician Ambrose Philips and celebrated both the 6th of February birthday of Anne, Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, as well as the 1712 signing of the Treaty of Utrecht, which ended the War of Spanish Succession and was negotiated by Anne's government. In light of the success of the treaty, the cantata styles Queen Anne as a peacemaker.
Anne was popular throughout her reign, in part because of her personal misfortunes. When she became monarch in 1707 at the age of 42, she was gout-ridden, obese, and in nearly constant pain. She had endured 17 pregnancies that resulted in either stillborn children or children who died by the age of four. On the 1st of August, 1714 she succumbed to Erysipelas, "St. Anthony's fire," a type of acute streptococcus bacterial infection, at the age of 48.
(Alto solo with solo trumpet over sustained strings)
Eternal source of light divine
With double warmth thy beams display
And with distinguish'd glory shine
To add a lustre to this day.
(Alto solo, then chorus with orchestra, sing "the chorus")
The day that gave great Anna birth
Who fix'd a lasting peace on earth.
(Soprano solo, then chorus with orchestra)
Let all the winged race with joy
Their wonted homage sweetly pay
Whilst towr'ing in the azure sky
They celebrate this happy day.
(Alto solo, then alto and solo with chorus and orchestra)
Let flocks and herds their fear forget
Lions and wolves refuse* their prey
And all in friendly consort meet
Made glad by this propitious day.
(Bass and alto duet, then chorus with orchestra)
Let rolling streams their gladness show
With gentle murmurs whilst they play
And in their wild meanders flow
Rejoicing in this blessed day.
(Soprano and alto duet with solo oboe and orchestra)
Kind Health descends on downy wings
Angels conduct her on the way.
T'our glorious Queen new life she brings
And swells our joys upon this day.
[Chorus repeated with Alto and soprano, then chorus with orchestra]
(Bass solo, then chorus with orchestra)
Let envy then conceal her head
And blasted faction glide away.
No more her hissing tongues we'll dread
Secure in this auspicious day.
(Alto solo then chorus with echo effects,solo trumpet and orchestra)
United nations shall combine
To distant climes their sound combine
That Anna's actions are divine
And this the most important day!
The Stuart Dynasty ended with Queen Ann's death; it began in 1688 when William of Orange of the Dutch Republic (Willem III van Oranje) became William III, King of England, Scotland, and Ireland, as joint monarch along with his English wife (and first cousin) Mary III. In English history, their ascension is referred to as the Glorious Revolution for it was basically a sort of bloodless coup: a faction of English Parliamentarians orchestrated the 1688 overthrow of King James II of England and the invitation to William and Mary to claim the throne. In 1707, upon William's death, Anne, Mary's younger and only living sibling, became sole monarch.
* "forget" in some libretti
Images: George Frideric Handel attributed to Balthasar Denner, c. 1726-1728, (National Portrait Gallery, London); Queen Anne by John Closterman, sometime between 1707 and 1711, (National Portrait Gallery, London).
An Inupiat baleen basket, with an ivory handle, made by Kinguktuk (1871–1941) of Barrow, Alaska, as seen displayed at the Museum of Man, San Diego, California.
Baleen basketry is not old. Developed as an Alaska Native art by the Inupiat people in and around Barrow after commercial whaling's termination in the early 20th century, the style copies older willow-root basketry but is made of baleen, the flexible material found in the mouths of the 15 species of the Mysticeti suborder of whales, the baleen whales, such as gray whales. The baleen whales' baleen plates include the "bristles" or "hairs" that filter the whales' food, such as krill, from the ocean water the whales take into their mouths.
Confusingly, the term "whalebone" is applied not only to whale bones but often to baleen, too, that is actually made of keratin, which is also found in human fingernails and hair.
The vast majority of producers of baleen baskets are men, Kinguktuk being generally recognized as the first and perhaps the only one as late as 1931.
I've blogged about the Union flag before, and the UK and British history are favorite topics of mine, of course.
If Scotland votes for independence on September 18th, 2014, what will be the fate of the Union Jack? (Will Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Bermuda, etc. drop it from their flags? Will Apple cut the Union Jack from the emoji keyboard? Whatever will Ben Sherman do without the Union Jack in designs—they love their variation of the RAF roundel even more, of course—unless they don't mind that it will sudden be retro.)
Here's one proposal from Atelier Words for the national flag of what they term the "fUK", the Former United Kingdom, which is being dubbed by some UK media outlets with the cheekier moniker and less naughty acronym, the "rump UK" (rUK).
From Atelier Works' website, here's the proposal, which is based on the Tudor rose—click on the image to enlarge it in a pop-up window.
Atelier did a version with green added, too, but that version violates the rule of tincture twice instead of only once. One way to not violate the rule of tincture is to make the yellow dot the green of the Welsh flag, but, unfortunately, the resultant flag positively screams, Happy Christmas! A black dot instead might make for a nice invocation of the poppy of Remembrance Day, but I suspect the red, white, black color scheme has a history among Brits that's very problematic.
From the Atelier website:
We love the fact that the symbol seems to cover so many aspects of the fUK.
- unity: people of opposing views happily living alongside one another
- the fruitfulness of the British Isles: the verdance, the countryside, the gardens
- did we mention gardens: Britain's favourite activity
- the meandering, wiggly, organic paths that human lives and human interaction takes
- different petals, but one shared heart
- the cycle of life: constant renewal
The British Bulldog forlorn with a wilted Scottish thistle and under a rump-UK flag (Cross of St. George representing England and the Cross of St. Patrick representing Northern Ireland), from the Spectator article, "Without Scotland, England will be a weedy laughing stock".
In a span of just four years, 1914–1918, all of the basic principles of military aviation combat, all still relevant today to some degree, were set. The context was the bloody trial-and-error aerial combat of the First World War, and the fliers were often only 18, 19, or 20 years old.
This period began only 11 years after the Wright Brothers' flight.
The airplanes of the First World War were rickety affairs made mostly of linen stretched over wooden frames. They were difficult to fly. Half of all the pilot deaths of the war occurred during take-off. Many early models did not have brakes; they simply slowed to a stop upon landing on the grass runways.
(Click on any image in this post to view it enlarged in a seperate browswer window.)
At first during the war, airplanes were used only for reconnaissance. They had no weaponry. Opposing pilots sometimes waved in greeting upon encountering each other in the the sky even as their respective nations' armies clashed murderously below them the ground.
The first recorded instance of an aircraft bringing down an enemy aircraft was when an Austro-Hungarian Albatros B.II reconnaissance airplane was deliberately rammed by a Russian Morane-Saulnier G on September 8, 1914. Both planes crashed.
In time, pilots started to shoot at each other from their open-seat cockpits with shotguns or pistols. Eventually, not surprisingly, a machine gun was tried.
Ground-based anti-aircraft weapons and techniques improved, too.
Pilots were not allowed parachutes; it was thought they'd encourage pilots to bailout instead of finishing their missions. Airplanes damaged or set alight by enemy fire or mechanical trouble in the air became diving death traps.
British pilots' average life expectancy was only 18 hours of flying time at one point during the war when the Germans possessed a particularly superior model of plane, the Albatross, and Germans began referring to the pilots of the Britain's Royal Flying Corps (RFC) as kaltes Fleisch, "cold meat."
During April 1917, RFC aviators' life expectancy was at its worst during the war: only 11 hours flying time.
Starting in 1917, pilots started to focus more on group formations of airplanes and formation tactics. Aerial warfare became less about pilots operating as lone airborne hunters, less about their individual pilot heroics (and a certain degree of recklessness) and more about dog fights between groups of opposing pilots. These fights were often of breath-taking complexity.
But one reality remained throughout: bringing down an opposing aviator generally meant maneuvering to get very close to his airplane. The technique of RFC pilot Albert Ball, but rendered obsolete in the formation flying tactics of later 1917 and 1918, was to spot his target, drop out of the sun, position himself only about 15 feet behind and beneath it, and fire his plane's machine gun upward—directly into the German plane's cockpit.
Josha Levine, writer, actor, historian, and author of Fighter Heroes of WWI:
"Dog fights were a very common occurrence in the First World War, but they never really ever happened again, because by the Second World War...airplanes were simply too quick. And one airplane only had another in its sights for a split second at a time.... If you watch a science fiction movie,... Star Wars for example, and watch the X-fighters take on the TIE fighters, you'll notice that what they're really having is a First World War dog fight. And yet that never really happened again after 1918."
I recommend the Channel 4 program Fighting the Red Baron (2010), which offers a humanizing look at the military aviators of WWI. (See a promo video here.) Some of the British and German aces (i.e, five or more air victories) mentioned in Fighting the Red Baron are show here, from top to bottom:
Albert Ball, VC, DSO & Two Bars, MC; Royal Flying Corps (RFC); killed in action aged 20.
Cecil Arthur Lewis, MC; Royal Flying Corps (RFC); he survived the war and went on to co-found the BBC; died in 1997 at the age of 98.
Arthur Rhys-Davids, DSO, MC & Bar; Royal Flying Corps (RFC); killed in action aged 20.
Werner Voss; Deutsche Luftstreitkräfte; killed in action aged 19.
Manfred von Richthofen, "the Red Baron"; Deutsche Luftstreitkräfte; killed in action aged 25. (Pictured at left.) Richthofen scored more aerial kills than any other ace of the First World War: 80. Canadian flier Captain Roy Brown was credited with shooting him down.