Mantika Italic – A New Interpretation Of An Old Story


Allan Haley in Archive on February 6, 2013

Italics are the aristocrats of type: elegant, beautiful, and dignified. Their history can be traced back to a time before there were fonts of type, when only scribes and the most educated communicated with the written word.

Traditional typographic history would have us believe that italic types were invented by Aldus Manutius in the late 15th century as a space saving device. The story is told that Manutius hired Francesco Griffo da Bologna to develop a cursive type for a new series of small books that he was planning to produce. It is said that Manutius’ goal was to reduce paper costs and thus make his publications less expensive. Then, as now, paper was expensive, but saving paper was not the goal in the creating of italic type – and Manutius never sold an inexpensive book.

Mantika Sans Italics

Printers of the time spoke of “writing” a typeset page as if it were a letter to a friend. As this somewhat unusual terminology implies, the typeface provided a much closer link between printer and reader than it does today. Certain styles of type were reserved for specific groups of readers. Manutius was not so much trying to save space with the development of his italic, than he was appealing to the educated, worldly, and wealthy readers of the early Italian Renaissance (who’s handwriting style the italic type mimicked). As for the books’ size, Aldus’ goal was to sell books that were portable.

Jürgen Weltin also had something special in mind when he drew the italics for his Mantika™ Sans typeface family. The characters are inclined at only 4.5° (the usual angle for italics is between 10° and 12°) and, as a result, appear to be almost upright. In contrast to this, character shapes are quite fluid and reminiscent of brush-drawn scripts. The overall effect is enhanced by the script-like terminals. “Within the variety of forms of the italics there are many contrasting elements that create dynamism,” Weltin explains. “The result is a pleasant, but distinctive, interaction between the rounded and almost upright forms.” Mantika Sans Italic, in addition to being a perfect complement to the Roman designs, can also be used on its own to set display headlines and short text passages.

Mantika Sans is available in two weights; regular and bold, both of which have corresponding italics sets. It has been designed so that the widths of the four related cuts are identical, meaning that a change of font within a single layout will have no effect on line length or layout consistency.

Click here to learn more about – and to license – the Mantika family

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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