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Helvetica font
Posted: 06 March 2014 05:00 AM   [ Ignore ]
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From the Guardian.

As the name implies, Helvetica’s roots were Swiss (originally it was called Neue Haas Grotesk, which sounds more like a 1980s German industrial band). It was developed in 1956 by Max Miedinger and Eduard Hoffman, very much in sympathy with the new Swiss Style – which treated graphic design almost as a postwar utopian mission.

I looked up Grotesk and it is translated as grotesque, preposterous, absurd and farcical so perhaps the name is PoMo irony. Haas is a surname but whose?

I don’t know if anyone here is sensitive to fonts or holds strong views about them.

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Posted: 06 March 2014 05:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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The Haas Type Foundry is located outside Basel, Switzerland. That’s where the name comes from.

Grotesque is a classification for certain sans serif typefaces. I’m not sure why the name. It seems to me that these typefaces, with their clean lines, are not at all like other ornate art works classified as grotesque.

Evidently Helvetica is not quite the same as Neue Haas Grotesk. There have been changes due to technology; Neue Haas Grotesk was optimized for mechanical typesetting and printing and for a limited range of sizes.

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Posted: 06 March 2014 05:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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The guys who do eye movement analysis for web pages have demonstrated that everyone is sensitive to fonts. Whether or not you have any sort of passion about them is a different part of the brain.

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Posted: 06 March 2014 06:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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venomousbede - 06 March 2014 05:00 AM

PoMo irony

What’s that?

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Posted: 06 March 2014 06:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Sarky abb for post-modernist.
Thanks for the answers. I only ever notice fonts when a magazine or newspaper changes theirs but only briefly till I get used to it. Happydog’s eye-motion observation is interesting but would only apply to new visitors to sites not me, a dedicated Guardian reader and they changed their print format drastically several years ago to half-tabloid Berliner. Dave should covertly change the font here and see if anyone notices. I remember there were objections when he moved to the new template from the yellow one.

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Posted: 06 March 2014 07:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Happydog’s eye-motion observation is interesting but would only apply to new visitors to sites not me,

No, I’m talking about the autonomic responses we all experience. Some fonts are simply easier to read, for example, and there are other unconscious responses. These sorts of things happen every time you read anything.

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Posted: 06 March 2014 07:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Huh, I thought at first “sarky” was a blooper for “snarky,” but I looked it up and discovered it’s a slang shortening of “sarcastic.” You learn something every day, especially around here.

As for grotesque, yeah, it’s an old typographic term, nothing to do with postmodernism.  The OED (in an entry from 1900) says ”Printing. A square-cut letter without ceriph, THUS; formerly called stone-letter” and gives the citation:

1875 J. Southward Dict. Typogr. (ed. 2) 45 Grotesque, the name of a peculiar fancy jobbing type.

The word “peculiar” in the citation is the only clue (if it is one) as to why the word is used in that meaning.  The spelling ceriph took me aback; it’s not even an entry any more, since the 3rd ed. has the entry form serif, revised just last year:

Forms: α. 17– ceriph (now nonstandard), 18 ceref.

[ Edited: 06 March 2014 07:29 AM by languagehat ]
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Posted: 06 March 2014 07:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Grotesque: It was originally coined by William Thorowgood of Fann Street Foundry, the first person to produce a sans-serif type with lower case, in 1832. The name came from the Italian word ‘grottesco’, meaning ‘belonging to the cave’. In Germany, the name became Grotesk. German typefounders adopted the term from the nomenclature of Fann Street Foundry, which took on the meaning of cave (or grotto) art. Nevertheless, some explained the term was derived from the surprising response from the typographers.

from:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sans-serif

And, from, ‘Just My Type,’ a book by Simon Garfield:

“A grotesque face is not necessarily an ugly one; a grot is a name applied to a certain type of sans serif type, usually from the nineteenth century, with some variations in the thickness of letter strokes. A neo-grotesque is more uniform, has less of a square look to the curved letters, and works very well in lower case in small point sizes.”

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Posted: 06 March 2014 08:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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The Haas Type Foundry is located outside Basel, Switzerland.

Just to be picky ... well not really, just for interest.

The buildings are still there, but the name was dropped and business transferred a short distance under the name “Walter Fruttiger AG”.  Still in Münchenstein on the edge of Basel.

The old Haas site is now a school.

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Posted: 07 March 2014 12:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Eric Gill, creator of (among others) the Gill Sans typeface, is said to have said that he was satisfied with a typeface for body text when nobody noticed it. It should be designed so as to be completely unobtrusive and not distract the focus from the textual content. (This does not of course apply to typefaces for headlines and similar uses, which should shout their presence.)

This thread refers to fonts and typefaces almost interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. Font refers to the physical embodiment of type, restricted to one variant and originally even to one size. Typeface refers to the design of the letters, and may encompass any number of variants. Helvetica and Helvetica Bold are different fonts within the same typeface. The distinction was clear back in the days when text was printed from metal type, but tends to get lost as digital typefaces take over (and typesetting is no longer the preserve of expert craftsmen).

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Posted: 07 March 2014 02:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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And font comes from French fonte, < fondre to melt, cast. I’d always connected it with fount, ie fountain for some inexplicable reason.

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Posted: 07 March 2014 04:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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You’re mixing letterpress with offset printing, in which the apparatus used to keep the printing blanket wet is called a fountain.

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Posted: 07 March 2014 06:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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In lh’s post above on, ‘grotesque,’ an OED 1875 cite is given. Is this the earliest cite or was this simply one which was most appropriate to this thread?  I ask because this site (which I can’t copy from) -
http://www.designhistory.org/Type_milestones_pages/SansSerif.html - would indicate that the word ‘grotesque,’ used in relation to typefaces, first appeared in print somewhere between 1816 and 1832 .

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Posted: 07 March 2014 02:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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The trick is to temporarily disable JavaScript, visit the page, copy, then toggle JS back on again. It’s done through about:config now in Firefox, it used to be in Preferences.

Anyway here’s the text (fair use is fair use):

Vincent Figgins was the first to use the term sans serif when he designed Two-line Great Primer Sans-serif in 1832. Two years later, William Thorowgood was the first to design a lowercase with his Seven Line Grotesque (above), introducing at the same time the word ‘Grotesque’. From a design point of view these typefaces have little value, but it is interesting to note their existence.

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Posted: 07 March 2014 03:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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From Wikipedia (sorry, but bear with it)
“According to James Mosley’s Typographica journal titled The Nymph and the Grot: the revival of the sanserif letter, the sans serif letters had appeared as early as 1748, as an inscription of Nymph in the Grotto in Stourhead”

And take a look at a picture of the inscription:
http://devonvisitor.blogspot.fr/2010/10/grotto-at-stourhead.html

Could the reference to “cave typeface” have started from this rather than a reference to cave art?

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Posted: 11 March 2014 08:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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I wonder why we say Santa’s Grotto and how old it is. Maybe it dates from the first department store Santas and there are also Santa’s Caves though that sounds a bit forbidding..

I was also reminded of grotty

grot·ty (grŏt′ē)
adj. grot·ti·er, grot·ti·est Chiefly British Slang
Very unpleasant; miserable.
[Alteration of grotesque.]
grot′ti·ness n.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009

adj. -ti•er, -ti•est. Chiefly Brit. Slang.
seedy; wretched; dirty.
[1960–65; perhaps grot (esque) + -y

Random House Kernerman Webster’s College Dictionary, © 201

For chiefly Brits, Grot was the name of Reginald Perrin’s company deliberately marketing naff rubbish in the 1970s’ sitcom such as salt and pepper pots with no holes and I think Grotbag was a witch in a children’s TV show.

[ Edited: 11 March 2014 08:53 AM by venomousbede ]
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