Posts Tagged ‘sumner stone’

by Allan Haley

Silica Blog takes a fresh look at the Silica™ typeface this month. In its honor, we wanted to look back at the family’s typographic heritage.

Slab serif, or Egyptian, typefaces first appeared in 1815, developed in response to the fledging advertising industry’s appetite for heavy, attention-getting alphabets. Slab serif designs were intended to be display typefaces of the highest order.

The slab serif typestyle was introduced about the same time as sans serif typefaces. Interestingly, both originated in England and were initially only available as cap-only designs. Coincidentally, William Caslon IV, who produced the first commercial sans serif, called his design “Egyptian,” the term also used to designate slab serif typefaces.

Also interesting is that the first slab serif typefaces were generally maligned by the intelligentsia of the typographic community.

A prominent typographic critic of the time described the new slab serif style as “a typographical monstrosity.” And well into the 1920s, The Fleuron, the famed British journal about typography and book arts, ignored the typefaces altogether. Daniel Berkeley Updike, the great type historian of the period, went so far as to refer to the design style as one of the plagues of Egypt.

And yet, despite its many detractors, the slab serif typestyle flourished. Advertisers, for whom these designs were originally intended, loved their commanding power and straightforward, no nonsense demeanor. Slab serif typefaces were the “flavor of the day” until the first part of the 20th century, when newer designs eclipsed their popularity.

Slab serif typefaces fell into disuse for almost 30 years, until they were revived as text designs by several German type founders. (Actually the Boston Breton family, one of the first revivals, was released by American Type Founders in 1900, but it didn’t attract much interest until the German slab serif designs began to be imported to North America.)

The Memphis® typeface, from the Stempel foundry, is credited with starting the slab serif revival in 1929. It was followed by the Bauer foundry’s Beton, the City® family from Berthold, and Luxor from Ludwig & Mayer – all German companies. Other European foundries followed suit: the Nilo and Egizio typefaces were released in Italy, Monotype’s Rockwell® and the Scarab designs in Britain.

Sumner Stone’s Silica typeface family is an important – and particularly handsome – addition to the lineage of slab serif typefaces. It also perpetuates the Egyptian typestyle tradition of versatility and candor.

The complete Silica family is available for desktop licensing from, as well as for online use through subscriptions to the Web Fonts service.

Allan Haley
Allan Haley is Director of Words & Letters at Monotype Imaging. Here he is responsible for strategic planning and creative implementation of just about everything related to typeface designs.

by Allan Haley

After 14 years of issues in just black and white, in 1988, color finally appeared on the pages of U&lc. It was only used on the first and last four pages of the publication, and its implementation was pretty timid – but it was a start. There were also four typeface release announcements in U&lc’s Volume Fifteen and a coterie of articles bejeweled with exceptional typography and brilliant illustrations.

After years of requesting, negotiating and downright pleading, we were finally given the OK to use color in the pages of U&lc. While we reveled in the ability to finally use more that just black ink, the first implementation of color could only be described as sedate. Future issues of U&lc, however, would take full advantage of the new capabilities.

The first of the “Letter” series, which traced the history of the letters in the Latin alphabet, appeared in Volume Fifteen, Number One, and the ITC typeface review board was announced in the following issue. Actually, ITC had a review board to help determine what typefaces were added to its typeface library from the very beginning but, because of growing reader inquiries about how ITC determines what typefaces to produce, we thought that it would be good to introduce the board members and explain the review process to the readers of U&lc.

Four sets of typefaces were also announced in the pages of Volume Fifteen: the ITC Panache®, ITC Jamille® and ITC Stone® families from Vince Pacella, Mark Jamra and Sumner Stone; and a suite of the first ITC Arabic typefaces from Mourad Boutros. Sumner Stone and Mourad Boutros continue to design typefaces for ITC and Monotype Imaging.

While U&lc featured the work of many illustrators in its pages, the drawings of Murray Tinkelman tended to show up with marked frequency. This was because Tinkelman is not only a terrific illustrator but also drew on some particularly intriguing topics for his work. His drawings of fellow illustrators, graphic designers, for the “Varoom, Varoom, Varoom, Varoom. Pussycats on Bikes?” article in the first issue of Volume Fifteen, is a case in point.

Click the PDFs below to find out what else was in U&lc Volume Fifteen.

Low Resolution:

Volume 15–1 (Low Res).pdf (13.9 MB)

Volume 15–2 (Low Res).pdf (14.3 MB)

Volume 15–3 (Low Res).pdf (13.9 MB)

Volume 15–4 (Low Res).pdf (12.7 MB)

High Resolution:

Volume 15–1.pdf (61.9 MB)

Volume 15–2.pdf (69.1 MB)

Volume 15–3.pdf (65.0 MB)

Volume 15–4.pdf (61.2 MB)

Allan Haley
Allan Haley is Director of Words & Letters at Monotype Imaging. Here he is responsible for strategic planning and creative implementation of just about everything related to typeface designs.


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