When we consider typefaces, people tend to think of ones familiar to them, that were produced in the early 20th-century or later, created solely for computer usage. We tend to forget that, since Gutenberg invented the printing press, there have been typefaces—and type designers. For Tuesday Typefaces this week, we'll be looking at Bembo, a typeface revived by Stanley Morison for the Monotype Corporation in 1929 that has its origins in a humanist typeface cut by Francesco Griffo in Venice around 1495.
|The original Bembo typeface by Griffo|
|Bembo today, by Stanley Morison|
What makes Bembo so timeless is its delicate calligraphic feel, particularly in its use of serifs, that make it reminiscent of hand-drawn letters without feeling sloppy or overdone. This is especially clear in the lowercase letters. The serifs, even within the same letter, are not symmetrical: the curve on the first stroke of the "m" differs from the flat, straight lines across the bottom, while the serif on the top of the "z" is longer than its bottom counterpart. The same goes for the "t," which the dash through the letter is not even on both sides, but hangs over slightly more on the right, a natural occurrence in handwriting. This naturalness can also be seen in the "e," which final stroke seems to ever-so-slightly reach outward, as if anticipating the next letter.
|A crab from Bembo's Zoo, by Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich|
For those typeface aficionados (or Bembo lovers) with children, this might be appreciated: Bembo's Zoo, a children's ABC book creating animals and scenes out of the Bembo typeface, one for each letter, as seen with the Crab at right.
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