October 1

A detail of 24 point Hunt Roman from "Hunt roman; the birth of a type."

On this date in 1961, the late Rachel Hunt—one-time apprentice bookbinder to Cobden-Sanderson at the Doves Press and later patron to Porter Garnett at the Laboratory Press at Carnegie Institute of Technology—initialed and okayed a sheet of letters titled “Trial Letters for Hunt Roman.” The letters were from the drawing board of the accomplished type designer, Hermann Zapf. With the approval of Mrs. Hunt, the production of the type began, to be completed in Frankfurt, Germany in the plant of the Stempel Typefoundry in 1962.

Hunt Roman is a type which can be placed in the category of private types, in the tradition of such designs as the Golden Type of William Morris, made for use at the Kelmscott Press, along with the Troy and Chaucer types. The Kelmscott Press types were the inspiration for a numbner of other designs of the same period, such as the Doves Press type, the Ashendene Press “Subiaco” type, and the font from the Vale Press.

While the idea behind the creation of a private type received its greatest impetus from the private press movement, there have been a number of types which have bridged the gap between such restrictive use and the commercial world of print. Such a letter is the ubiquitous Cheltenham, possibly the best-known American type ever produced. It was originally designed for the Cheltenham Press in New York City but was later released for commercial production, with resounding success. Most typographers would agree that the Centaur type of the late Bruce Rogers would qualify as the most distinguished example of a type designed for private use (by the Metropolitan Museum of Art), which became one of the highly regarded typefaces of our time when it was adapted for Monotype composition in the splendid Oxford Lectern Bible of 1935. Centaur is now proudly used by all printers conscious of the qualities of a fine letter.

The prolific Frederic W. Goudy designed a number of types upon special commission. His first popular success in type designing was Kennerley, cut for the composition of The Door in the Wall, by H.G. Wells, and published by Mitchell Kennerley.

Several other Goudy private types have since been relegated to the hell-box, such as Nabisco, Saks Goudy, and Companion Old Style (for the Woman’s Home Companion). Two others were more fortunate. The Aries font, re-designed for the famous Grabhorn Press under the name of Franciscan, has been used in several notable books from that press, including the monumental Bibliography; the University of California Oldstyle has been made available to all printers under the name Californian, after the University agreed to release its exclusive right to the type.

Further Reading
Hunt roman; the birth of a type. Commentary and notes by Hermann Zapf and Jack Werner Stauffacher, with a foreword by George H. M. Lawrence. A digital book available for online reading courtesy of the Posner Memorial Collection at Carnegie Mellon University.

Then & Now: Jack Stauffacher & Hermann Zapf, a “dot-font” column written by John D. Berry, appearing on CreativePro.com, 5 October 2001.

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