Essay On Didone

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A BRIEF HISTORY OF TYPE
Part Four: Modern (Didone)
In the previous installment of this series, we took a closer look at Transitional style typefaces, so-called because they mark a transition from the former Old Style types—epitomized by Baskerville—and the subject of today’s brief history, the Moderns, also known as Didone (the terms Modern and Didone are used synonymously throughout this article).

Baskerville’s types, compared with their Old Style (or Garalde) predecessors, are marked by high contrast between thick and thin strokes, so much so that one commentator declared Baskerville was “blinding the nation.” The Moderns or Didones take this contrast to further extremes (just about as far as one can take them).

The first Modern typeface
…show more content…
The beautifully crafted Didot from Jonathan Hoefler,

Hoefler and Co. beautiful Didot

Ambroise from Jean François Porchez (also used to set today’s masthead),

ambroise from Jean Francois Porchez

and Moderno FB,

moderno fb

Here are four Didone m‘s compared:

didone comparison

And here are some other notable Moderns: ITC Fenice (I’m not a fan of this one), ITC Zapf Book, Adobe New Caledonia (actually pretty good for extended text), ITC Bodoni*, and Günter Gerhard Lange’s Berthold Walbaum (a little wider set than your average Didone).

Well, I’ve only just scratched the surface, but I hope that this has given you a taste of the Moderns. In part five, the serif pendulum swings to the opposite extreme when we consider Slab Serifs.

Footnotes:
1 You can see the entire book online at Rare Book Room.
2 The Elements of Typographic Style, page 130.
3 Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works, page 83.
* See The Typographic Revolution—Porchez Typofonderie.

I have renamed this series “A brief History of Type”. I think it better suits the thrust of these articles.

Read part one | two | three | four | five

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