PLINC (Photo-Lettering Inc.), the online headline-setting service that House Industries started in 2009, has steadily expanded its library. Carlyle Quaint, digitized by Dan Reynolds, was added (and made available as an iPhone app) in 2013. It is a titling face consisting of capitals, lining figures, and basic punctuation. At heart the design is a Tuscan, but it is unlike any other Tuscan with the possible exception of Aldo Novarese’s Fontanesi (Nebiolo, 1954).
It has a touch of Art Nouveau. Carlyle Quaint is derived from — and named for — an alphabet designed by lettering artist Paul Carlyle, co-author with Guy Oring of Letters and Lettering (1938). However, the model does not appear in that book or any of the others Carlyle wrote. It first appeared in Photo-Lettering’s Alphabet Thesaurus Vol. 3 (1971).
Like virtually every other decorative display face, Carlyle Quaint is limited in use. It is a fun design, the kind of font that will appeal hugely to some designers and not at all to others. It appeals to me because its component parts — a constellation of unjoined fluid shapes — manage to frothy and floral, yet not wimpy or wan.
The fluid shapes are tautly drawn and they are assembled with some surprises. First off, there is a subtle sense of torque or moment of force created by the delicate centrifigal joins of the “disk” at the center of each stem or thick stroke to the curvilinear shapes above and below. Second, some of the shapes — like the crossbar of the ‘A’ — flow in unexpected directions. Third, the organic shapes dance around one another gracefully. There is a lot of visual counterpoint. Carlyle Quaint is technically a stencil face, since there is no outline or other boundary holding its amoeba-like shapes together. This gives it a playful lightness.
An added bonus is that Carlyle Quaint is a chromatic font. On the PLINC website, one can determine not only the text to be set but also its coloration. The shapes have been segregated into inside and outside groups that can be independently colored. Enjoy Carlyle Quaint, but use it sparingly. Treat it like the ice cream sundae on a type menu: something to look forward to after a nutritious but dull meal of sans serifs and other typographic vegetables.