September 14

“The Typophiles of New York greet you, Sjoerd Hendrik de Roos, on this your seventieth birthday, & wish you a long continuance of health and years in which to minister to the arts of the book. May your dedicated craftsmanship in type design, in printing and in binding inspire in the rising generation of bookmakers a quickened sense of the worth and the dignity of the printed book. In token of our regard for yourself and for your versatile talents we sign this message collectively, and send you separately some recent Typophile publications, suitably inscribed. We wish to be considered your admiring friends, proud to belong (with you) among the world’s kindred of booklovers. And since bookmakers (no less than their books) too have their fates, may the world’s celebration of your 70th birthday teach all nations to unite in preserving civilization even as we now unite in honoring you. 1877–1947, The Typophiles De Roos Day, 14 September.”

S. H. de Roos, typographer and type designer, shared with his countryman Jan van Krimpen, the honor of being the outstanding typographer of his time in Holland. As a boy he had studied art, with the result that, following evening courses at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Amsterdam, he acquired sufficient talents in lithography to accept commissions in that field. Simultaneously, through a developing interest in the art of the book, he became a bookbinder. Through his work with books he enlarged his viewpoint to include the typography of the book, studying in particular, the book design of England, Germany, and the United States.

In 1903 de Roos was given the opportunity to design the format of the Dutch edition of Art and Society, by William Morris. His admiration of Morris as an artist and as a printer inspired him to produce a book which was enthusiastically received and is now considered to be one of the important books in the history of Dutch typography. His growing reputation as a book designer prompted the Typefoundry Amsterdam to engage him as artistic advisor. This association was to last for a period of thirty-five years, and to result in a number of printing types for that foundry which have enhanced the reputation of Dutch typefounding.

The first type design was a Javanese letter, followed by one of his most successful types, Holland Medieval, a letter styled upon the types of the great 15th century Venetian typographer, Nicolas Jenson. Medieval has proved to be exceedingly popular, now being available in a series, accompanied by initials. The next types of de Roos were Erasmus, a somewhat lighter letter, and Meidoorn, which was inspired by the Subiaco type of Sweynheim and Pannartz. The type which made de Roos well-known in the United States was Egmont, cut in 1932.

Possibly the best known of all the de Roos types is the uncial letter, Libra, which was offered by the foundry in 1939.

De Roos died in 1962 at the age of 84, honored as a great typographer whose influence has extended far beyond the borders of his native land.

Leave a Reply