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Commentary

Verlag, the Latest Pre-War Modernist Sans

Typographica on June 13, 2006

Verlag fontsToday, Hoefler & Frere-Jones released Verlag, an expansion of the fonts they created years ago for the Guggenheim. It’s available in 30 styles, including a very tasteful Compressed set and some thoughtful figures and punctuation.


Verlag comes on the heels of similar early- to mid-century modernist throwbacks like Cyrus Highsmith’s Relay and Christian Schwartz’s Neutraface. At first glance in seems more usable than those. With its strict geometry, low crossbars, and quaint italics, Neutraface is better suited for display settings; and Relay always felt a little too constructed to me, too much bézier apparent — which is a Highsmith trademark, for better or worse.

Verlag
Verlag-2
  Verlag from Hoefler & Frere-Jones

Relay-1
Relay-2
  Relay from Font Bureau

Neutraface-1
Neutraface-2
 Neutraface from House Industries

Metro Lite
Metro Medium
Metro Black
 Metrolite, Metromedium, Metroblack No. 2 from Linotype

The H&FJ notes also make reference to “Ludlow Tempo and Intertype Vogue (each a staple of the Midwestern newsroom for much of the century.)” James Montalbano’s VF Sans, created for Vanity Fair is similarly inspired.

And to satiate the need for even more pointed apexes, Akira Kobayashi is putting the finishing touches on a Metro revival that should bust outta Linotype later this year. With all these warm geometrics (oops, forgot Jim Parkinson’s wonderful Richmond), and two great digitizations of Nobel available (from DTL and Font Bureau), I don’t know why anyone would use Futura anymore.

See also: Schwartz discusses Neutraface

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Typographica is a review of typefaces and type books, with occasional commentary on fonts and typographic design. Edited by Stephen Coles and designed by Chris Hamamoto. Founded in 2002 by Joshua Lurie-Terrell. Relaunched in 2009 by Coles and Hamamoto.

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