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Aitken / Oxford font

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  • Michael Barnes
    It is a shame this font had to be recreated this way. Updike used it for Printing Types and said this about it (volume 2, page 231): This type is not
    Message 1 of 5 , Jul 3, 2006
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      It is a shame this font had to be recreated this way. Updike used it
      for Printing Types and said this about it (volume 2, page 231): "This
      type is not obtainable above 12-point or below 9-point, although Binny
      & Ronaldson's specimen of 1812 shows also brevier and minion. It is
      called "Oxford" by the American Type Founders Company, from whom it may
      be had. I have used it for this book. It seems to be a type of real
      distinction."


      On Jun 29, 2006, at 11:02 AM, Matt Kelsey wrote:

      > Gerald had posted earlier this month about an Arion Press event for
      > their new limited edition of the Memoirs of Benjamin Franklin. The
      > notice mentioned the font used, Aitken, a new digital version "of what
      > is believed to be the first type family cut and cast in the United
      > States."
      >
      > I did not go to the event, but did make a brief visit to Arion Press /
      > M&H Type yesterday, and Andrew Hoyem showed me a copy of their new
      > book. It's noteworthy for this list that the Aitken font was designed
      > specifically for digital letterpress -- for printing via photopolymer,
      > as was done for this book.
      >
      > Here is an explanation of the font from the Arion website:
      >
      > "Andrew Hoyem has taken advantage of twenty-first century technologies
      > in order to revive what is believed to be the first type family cut
      > and cast in America. In 1796 two Scotsmen named Binny and Ronaldson
      > started a type foundry in Philadelphia, the first in the country to
      > endure. By 1800 they had produced a remarkably beautiful and
      > utilitarian type, identified simply as Roman No. 1. It is a
      > Transitional face, between Old Style (as in Caslon) and Modern (as in
      > Bodoni). The type was used by Jane Aitken, daughter of Robert Aitken,
      > the famous printer of the American Revolution, and an accomplished
      > printer herself, for the printing of the first American translation of
      > the Bible, by Charles Thomson, in 1808. It was reintroduced by
      > American Type Founders Company in 1892 under the name Oxford and was
      > used by a succession of fine printers, such as Daniel Berkeley Updike,
      > Bruce Rogers, and the Grabhorn Press. Arion Press has 1,200 pounds of
      > the original type that once belonged to the Grabhorn Press. Oxford was
      > cast for hand composition only and was not adapted for Linotype or
      > Monotype composition. The matrices are now in the collection of the
      > Smithsonian Institution and unavailable for further casting. In 2002,
      > Hoyem worked with type designer Linnea Lundquist, assisted by Andrew
      > Crewdson, to create a digital version of this historic face, which he
      > renamed Aitken."
      >
      > See http://www.arionpress.com/catalog/075.htm for more details.
      >
      > The Binny & Ronaldson font was revived and considerably modified by
      > Linotype as Monticello in the 1950s; a few years ago Matthew Carter
      > created a digital version of Monticello for Princeton's Thomas
      > Jefferson letters series. In the Carter version, the thin strokes are
      > considerably strengthened to create the proper weight for offset
      > printing.
      >
      > By contrast, the Arion Press Aitken font is created specifically for
      > letterpress printing at text size. It's also much truer to the
      > original Binny & Ronaldson design than either of the Monticello
      > variants. If you are in San Francisco, it's worth a trip to Arion
      > Press's gallery to see a nice little exhibit they have about the type.
      > They show a copy of the 1808 Bible printed by Jane Aitken, as well as
      > books from Bruce Rogers and Daniel Berkeley Updike using the same font
      > more than a century later. There are also examples showing stages in
      > the design of this new revival of the font.
      >
      > There's a good chapter about the Oxford font and its history in
      > Alexander Lawson's book, Anatomy of a Typeface.
      >
      > Andrew Hoyem mentioned that he'd love to see the Aitken font cut for
      > Monotype casting, but he also recognized that's probably impractical.
      > (By the way, Andrew mentioned that the Smithsonian wouldn't even let
      > them look at the original mats in their collection!)
      >
      > Matt
      >
      >

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