Archer the Elegant Slab Serif

fly me to the moon

It feels as though Jonathan Hoefler has been designing type for about 100 years–a tall order for a man in his thirties. While still in his teens, he established the Hoefler Type Foundry (now known as Hoefler & Frere-Jones, since teaming up with Tobias Frere-Jones, formerly of the Font Bureau). In 2002 he was honored with type’s top prize, ATypI’s Prix Charles Peignot.

If you own a Mac, then you already have a Hoefler font–Hoefler Text a serif face, commissioned by Apple back in 1991. If you’ve never even noticed it before, then do take a look: the family comprises some 27 fonts; it includes old-style figures, small caps, ligatures and even alternative versions of punctuation for use with caps and and small caps.*

But we’re not here to talk about Hoefler Text or H&FJ Didot or Verlag or Requiem, or even Gotham. If you look up at the night sky toward the center of our own Milky Way galaxy, you’ll spot H&FJ’s new typeface Archer, a rather lovely Slab Serif initially commissioned for Martha Stewart Homes.


I’m particularly taken with the ball terminals on the s (used throughout the lowercase). See the outlines below (hairline and bold). There’s definitely something Swanlike in its form. Interestingly (well, I thought it was interesting), the constellation Sagittarius contains several nebulae, one of which, the Omega Nebula, is commonly know as the Swan or Horseshoe. (one of those interesting facts you can raise when next at the pub).

archer S hairline and bold

H&FJ faces are never short on weights, and Archer is no exception, available in eight weights with accompanying italics, old style figures, small caps, lining figures…you name it, it’s in there. I’ve always found the slab serif to be a little sterile, characterless even. Archer though is a more noble, elegant slab serif. If Courier is Jane Doe, then Archer is Isabella Rossellini or Audrey Hepburn.


Sweet but not saccharine, earnest but not grave, Archer is designed to hit just the right notes of forthrightness, credibility, and charm.

I could happily write several more pages on what I like about Archer, but I suggest you take a look at H&FJ’s Archer page. So what do you think of Archer?

Coming up…

A very exciting exclusive on another new typeface and the interview with Jean François Porchez. But before that, I’ll see you all on Sunday for another edition of Sunday Type.

If you haven’t already subscribed to iLT, then a couple of clicks will ensure you never miss another issue.

*Dot-font: Talking About Fonts–John D. Berry. 2006, page 59.
More about the heroic type duo that is H&FJ can be found here.

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