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Times, Times NR, and Starling: production results?

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Michael Byrnes's picture
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Joined: 28 Nov 2012 - 11:13am
Times, Times NR, and Starling: production results?
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Being a novice typophile, I've been trying to read what I can about history, designs, and utility of typefaces. Recently been introduced to the Times, Times NR, and Starling intrigue. Older posts here in 2006-2009 suggest that a few designers would meet with Mike Parker at a convention... but no one seemed to post results, if any, of the meetings.

So, I was curious about 3 issues:

1. What has the type industry understood to be the more accurate history relating to Times: the conventional story or MP's version ?

2. How has the typeface Starling (Font Bureau) performed in technical production, and is the typeface selling well?

3. For years, I've had some negative view of Times somehow implanted in me as being a technically flawed typeface... but in the 1994 C. Bigelow interview, it seems that both Monotype and Linotype had spent years fine-tuning almost everything about the typeface. Just playing around with Times last night, with a different mindset, allowed me to see that it is interesting in its own (early 20th century, and yet forward thinking) way. Is Times just misunderstood, or do professionals truly find flaws with it?

Cheers.

Craig Eliason's picture
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Joined: 19 Mar 2004 - 1:44pm
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3. Times's ubiquity is the biggest knock against it in my view. It does what it's intended to do quite well I think.

John Hudson's picture
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Joined: 21 Dec 2002 - 11:00am
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I followed the story closely from the beginning, because it really came out of Mike's examination of the Lanston archives, which were then owned by Gerald Giampa and housed in Vancouver. I spent time with Mike and Gerald at Lanston, and heard Mike's initial ideas on the subject first hand. The article that he wrote for the journal of the American Printing Historical Society is well worth reading: its a good piece of research, whatever one thinks of the conclusions. With regard to the conclusions, I'm resigned to the fact that there is unlikely ever to be incontrovertible evidence either way. Mike's account could be true, or it could be a splendidly elaborate hoax -- not necessarily on Mike's part, I should add.

Charles Ellertson's picture
Joined: 3 Nov 2004 - 11:00am
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Maybe 20 years ago I was perusing the stacks and came across a book set in Times -- it was machine-set metal, but I don't remember if from Linotype, Monotype, or some other foundry; set in a size a bit larger than normally encountered, and with long descenders. I remember it as being not quite as condensed, but that may be untrue -- can be hard to tell with the slightly larger sizes in metal. I believe it was a work of essays -- in any case, a work of literature. I remember it as being quite beautiful. Like an idiot, I didn't write down the title.

* * *
I set a lot of Times in the early 1980s. You're quite right, it is a good typeface. We still have an early Type 1 PostScript Times font from the early 1990s that I think superior to most offerings today. I cannot remember the foundry (publisher). We probably got it from Adobe, as that's where we got most of our cross-licensed fonts -- but with Times, maybe not.

Every once in a while I contemplate going over it, adding both OT features and some more work on the glyphs themselves, but am always brought up short because modern text designers will just not specify it.

John Savard's picture
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Joined: 23 Nov 2009 - 8:42pm
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Well, I loved Times back in the days of hot metal. But the digital versions of it, for whatever reason, are not as appealing to me. Maybe they could be flawed, although I expected them to be identical except for leading... but that isn't really true, hence Times Ten.

Simon Daniels's picture
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Joined: 11 Apr 2002 - 6:37pm
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Regarding question 2, The Font Bureau corporation is the largest privately owned type foundry in existence. As such, and like many other businesses of this scale, they keep matters pertaining to sales figures private.

However, I dare say if you are able to get through to one of their customer care representatives (after navigating a labyrinthine phone system - "for Whitman Extra Bold Condensed press 1") you'll probably be given various (all be it cherry picked) examples of in print publications using Starling so you can review the font in use.

David Berlow's picture
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Joined: 19 Jul 2004 - 6:31pm
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"...it seems that both Monotype and Linotype had spent years fine-tuning almost everything about the typeface."

this maybe hard to read at such a distant time as we are in. ;)

Jason Campbell's picture
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Joined: 8 Oct 2005 - 11:52am
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"this maybe hard to read at such a distant time as we are in. ;)"

I'm a little unclear on what downscaling a jpg shows about the effort spent in developing a typeface?
TNR was hinted down to 7ppm, but those hints obviously don't show when you just shrink an image. Although the majority of the hinting was done back in the binary stoneage.

John Savard's picture
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Joined: 23 Nov 2009 - 8:42pm
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@oobimichael:
What has the type industry understood to be the more accurate history relating to Times: the conventional story or MP's version ?

In my opinion, one can't really say anything about what is accurate.

We know that there was a type design by Starling that in some way resembled Times Roman, as well as predating it.

Of course, there was also the "official" precursor to Times Roman, Plantin.

And recently it's been noted that another font had a bit of a resemblance to Times, although it had a number of eccentricities... (Couldn't remember the name or find the thread, but it came up again now - Aries, by Eric Gill.)

John Hudson's picture
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Joined: 21 Dec 2002 - 11:00am
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We know that there was a type design by Starling that in some way resembled Times Roman, as well as predating it.

We do?

John Savard's picture
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Joined: 23 Nov 2009 - 8:42pm
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But we don't know if Morison or Lardent ever heard of it, or if any inspiration beyond Plantin and the typographical climate of the time was needed.

John Hudson's picture
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Joined: 21 Dec 2002 - 11:00am
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Seriously, do we 'know' that Starling Burgess designed Lanston No.54? I don't recall any solid evidence for this link. I believe it is plausible, if Lanston No.54 does indeed date from when Mike thinks it dates from, but that in itself is hardly incontrovertible.

Herbert Elbrecht's picture
Joined: 13 Jan 2013 - 1:47pm
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Well -

looking at the old "The Times New Roman & Related Founts" [20" x 30"] poster looking at me from the wall, there is a whole lot more about Times. - With even Perpetua Titling making its appearance in the lower left corner…

HE

http://www.elbrecht.de/TNR&RF.jpg

David Berlow's picture
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Joined: 19 Jul 2004 - 6:31pm
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Simon- "Regarding question 2, The Font Bureau corporation is the largest privately owned type foundry in existence"

That's nice, but it's not quite true. There are others both larger and privately owned.

A, Jasonc, "I'm a little unclear on what downscaling a jpg shows about the effort..."

It gets bigger if you click on it don't it? It's not about hinting, as I would be the last to crit the hinting of Times Roman. It's about the times families, and their technical execution, as asked in the original post.

I have not doubt that Monotype and Linotype made the various Times families, and by now, individual styles of those families are more related to that, than to anything anyone else might have designed in the past.

Times regular, which is very close in all versions of Times, is the main issue of originality. Here, Mike, I and others were intrigued by two facts. The first is that SM never said, "I designed Times". The second is that type designers and devlopers have historically come from, gold smithing, gun smithing, architecture, mathematics, ship building and piracy. If Gutenberg, Caslon, Goodhue, Knuth, Karow and Blackbeard could do it, why not Burgess, or as the paper needed to evolve into action why not Parker.

The resulting Starling, forgetting the whole Burgess vs Morison thing, is an elegant seaworthy series for all sizes, with excellent flight capabilities to the web and dymaxionistic lines regardless of output device and it's doing well.

John Hudson's picture
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Joined: 21 Dec 2002 - 11:00am
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Elbrecht, surely the point of the Times specimen poster is to show the types in use in the Times newspaper house style, i.e. 'related' in terms of their use, not in terms of being related designs.

While we're talking about this poster, anyone know anything about 'Hever Titling'? I presume this was a custom display face for the Times: Hever is the name ancestral home of the newspaper's proprietor from 1922 to 1959 (and also the name of the baronetcy created for him in the 1950s).

David Berlow's picture
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Joined: 19 Jul 2004 - 6:31pm
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"Hever is the name [of the] ancestral home of the newspaper's proprietor.."

He and his ancestors were born in America. So man and font too!? The conspiracy mushrooms in the dark...;p

John Hudson's picture
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Joined: 21 Dec 2002 - 11:00am
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Sorry, I didn't mean ancestral, I should have said family home. His father bought it in 1903.

Michael Byrnes's picture
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I seem to remember in my old high school English class being taught about "stream of consciousness"... I wonder if this is what the teacher was trying to explain?

Seriously, though, I assume by the responses that almost no one ventures into actually using any of the Times variants in professional settings?

And I'm reminded of another recent post where Nick Shinn was making the observation that his "Scotch Modern" was perhaps a transition from the Moderns/didones to post-modern transitional types. As a novice, I had somehow thought that Times was essentially the milestone marker into the (later) Transitionals... but I might see Nick's point about Scotch Modern...

Obviously, Times did play a vital role in the evolution of type... but is it now essentially dead? Are the children of Times consistently seeing their genes in the eyes of Old Style types, and purposefully looking the other way when Times is mentioned?

Just a few poetic questions... stream of consciousness stuff...

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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Unfortunately there will always be Vignellis...

To be fair though I don't feel Times is horrible, but I do think most digital versions have too much stroke contrast.

hhp

Michael Byrnes's picture
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Joined: 28 Nov 2012 - 11:13am
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hrant, when you say stroke contrast, you mean its a bit didonish?

John Hudson's picture
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Joined: 21 Dec 2002 - 11:00am
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Since MS Office replaced Times New Roman with Calibri as the default text font, about the only time I see Times these days is in older documents on line and in the pages of the Times Literary Supplement, a publication that as a result looks decidedly oldfashioned.

James Mosley observed some years ago that, although nominally a newspaper face, some of the best uses of Times -- in the Monotype metal version -- was in book typesetting. But it's been quite a while since I last saw a book set in Times.

With regard to the Starling types, the really remarkable -- and somewhat unnerving thing -- is the italics. The romans are a sensible adaptation of the historical design, better coordinated across the weight range than any version of Times, but the italics are something entirely new. I say they're unnerving because we're so used to the old Times italics being paired with those roman forms.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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I mean that the difference between the thicks and the thins is a bit too great; or actually probably just that the thins are too thin.

hhp

John Hudson's picture
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Joined: 21 Dec 2002 - 11:00am
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Alice Savoie kindly looked into the Hever Titling, and sent me this image of the specimen. She confirms that it was a Monotype production and that the ' font seems to have been used for the headings of specific sections within The Times (such as "Entertainments", "Court circulars" and "Paris Fashion") and already appears in the first 1932 edition set with the Times New Roman faces.'

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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Cool. Times Display, anyone?

hhp

James A. Crippen's picture
Joined: 28 Dec 2007 - 7:24pm
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Times is still the norm for many academic publishers. There’s an increasing tendency to use something less ubiquitous but still bland like Minion, though I still see many books and articles entirely in Times. I think this is partly due to space economy and partly to the existence of large collections of technical symbols designed to harmonize with Times.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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BTW anybody contemplating the release of a new Times might do well to read this cautionary tale:
http://fontsinuse.com/uses/3368/the-other-times-modern

hhp