home archive font wall

I Love Typography

MADE POSSIBLE WITH THE SUPPORT OF
I Love Typography
MADE POSSIBLE WITH THE SUPPORT OF

The Return of the Serif

Part Two

In part one, Who Shot the Serif?, we learned among other things that serifs — like milkshakes — come in many flavours: The main two flavours are Adnate and Abrupt; with Adnate serifs generally being more organic; Abrupt Serifs on the other hand are usually squarer, bigger, chunkier (the Arnold Schwarzeneggers of the font world).

serif-family-tree1.gif

Today we’re going to take a brief look at the Serif family tree. And if we’re going to use the family tree “metaphor”, then lets stretch it a little. So without further ado, let me introduce to you (drum-roll…) Mr Abrupt Serif and his wife, Mrs Adnate Serif.

In an exclusive interview (they turned down a lucrative offer from FontShop), I was able to gain some insights into the private lives of the Serif family.

The following is an excerpt from the interview (speaking from their home in Serifsville, Georgia).

ILT:

Could you tell the ILT readers a little about the Serif family heritage?

Mr AS:

On my side of the family I’m most proud of my son Slab Serif. (My wife and others often call him Egyptian). Slab Serif’s children include Clarendon, a fine young lady. Most would agree that she and her siblings—Xenia, Geometric Slab Serif, and Rosewood—are very artistic, very decorative. Rosewood has starred in numerous Westerns; he’s a bold, strong character, who was once very popular in advertising. On my wife’s side…

geometric-slabserif-712.png

rosewood-regular.png

Mrs AS [interrupts]:

…yes, my side of the family is certainly more refined, perhaps I could go so far as to say, more natural, more organic. For example, my Baskerville (a fine young man, a real perfectionist from the Transitional Serif family) when born (I think it was about 1754), was considered anorexic, with his razor-thin serifs; however, he’s stood the test of time, and his contrast makes him easily legible.

baskerville-regular.png

baskerville-italic.png

ILT:

What about Old Style? Where does she fit in?

Mrs AS:

Well, some call her Old Style; I prefer to call her Humanist. Her great-great grandfather was the 16th Century typographer Claude Garamond. Humanist owes a lot to the calligraphic style of writing. Here’s a picture of Sabon, one of Humanist’s children. She looks as though she’s been designed with a wide-nib ink pen, doesn’t she?

sabon.png

itc-garamond.png

A big thank you to Mr and Mrs Serif. They have a busy schedule, what with books magazines, poster campaigns, and their recent popularity on the Web. We didn’t really look at Modern Serifs (e.g. Bodoni and Didona) and Latin Serifs (e.g. Quant Antiqua). Can you think of more examples?

didona.png

quant-antiqua-a-latin-serif.png

A full transcript of the interview will be available in the “Who Shot the Serif?” e-book, an edited and expanded compilation of all the Type Terminology articles.

To ensure you don’t miss out on the next in this series, subscribe to I Love Typography today.

Coming up

Typoholism: The Disease, The symptoms;
The Typographic Dating Game; and much, much more…

Have you enjoyed our examination of the serif?

FONT NEWS TYPE HISTORY MAKING FONTS INTERVIEWS BOOK REVIEWS TYPOGRAPHIC FIRSTS FEATURE ARTICLES