Monday, September 27, 2010

The Fell Types

Kurt Hockenbury sent over a link to this amazing set of six open source fonts based on the Fell Types released by Igino Marini. If you're not a typography geek you're no doubt asking why this is of note. Here's the answer:

From mid-16th century until the end of the 17th, interference with printing by the British Crown thwarted the development of type founding in England—most type used by 17th century English printers was of Dutch origin. The lack of material inspired Bishop of Oxford Doctor John Fell to purchase punches & matrices from Holland ca. 1670–1672 for use by the Oxford University Press. The so-named Fell types, presumed to be the work of Dutch punchcutter Dirck Voskens, mark a noticeable jump from previous designs, with considerably shorter extenders, higher stroke contrast, narrowing of round letters, and flattened serifs on the baseline and descenders.

From a prop standpoint these are cool for two reasons. One, they look perfect for reproducing all manner of realistic grimoires and Mythos texts. Two, they're tied to a particular time and, to a lesser extent, place. That's a real boon if you're looking for an "air of verisimilitude", as Lovecraft himself would put it.


Raven said...

That's a real boon if you're looking for an "air of verisimilitude", as Lovecraft himself would put it.

Or as Gilbert & Sullivan actually did put it:

"Mere corroborative detail intended to lend an air of artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative."

It's a good thing there's no Commandment that says Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor's Fonts.

...covet, covet....

Raven said...

The more I look at Igino Marini's work, the lower my jaw drops in awe. As he says, this was a labor of love on his part. Well, he had the good taste to fall in love with some beautiful if neglected typefaces, and then the dogged determination to follow through with years of hard work to digitize them in finicky detail, and the ingenuity to solve some mathematical and programming problems along the way -- including developing a whole new metrics software (iKern) that he now makes available to other font developers! All this, and he gives away the resulting fonts for free, asking only credit. The term for such a person is "public benefactor."

The reaction and review I want to hear would be Andrew Leman's, whose E-phemera and HPLHS fonts recreate mostly early 20th century (and a few older) typefaces with the rough-edged look of actual worn metal type. Marini has just done the same thing with the Fell Types, rough edges, irregular heights, and all. Kindred spirits here.

Naamah said...

I am literally moaning and squirming in my seat with eagerness to use these. So beautiful! So! Beautiful!

Raven said...

In another bit of true magic available to bloggers and other website owners, you can now display your own text in the Fell Types to readers elsewhere who do not have those fonts on their own systems!

The Fell Types are available as webfonts:
FAQ Page
"IM Fell font families" page