BLAST 1 - serif face used by Wyndham Lewis, 1914

mvor's picture


I am looking to find out more about the serif font used in BLAST 1, the famous British Vorticist publication. THe sample attached is of the serif face in question, the rest of the publication primarily uses a heavy Grot.

If you don't know it already, well worth a look at some truly avant-garde typography considering the context.

thanks as always for any time and assistance.


oldnick's picture

The all caps portion is Devinne, which is odd, because the lowercase most certainly is not...

mvor's picture

Hi there

I dont see a match for 'Devinne' - unless you mean something other than this:

or the 'De Vinne' font which is definitely out too —


Ryuk's picture

Confirming Nick Curtis' suggestion for De Vinne.
Some of its digitizations at MF. Romana (also inspired by DeVinne) may be a good alternative for both upper and lowercases.

donshottype's picture

An extremely popular font of the design that matches your sample was sold under the name Devinne in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. When it declined in popularity the foundries used the name for another design, as shown in your links. Because of copyright/trademark issues the original Devinne font has to be sold under other names. Here is one: De Vinne by Wooden Type Fonts.

mvor's picture

Hi there - - thanks for these...

Mr De Vinne certainly seems like a possible source. But none of the digital cuts match the UC serif. Closest ones are probably...

De Vinne by Wooden Type Fonts —
Romana — but again not quite... —

Anyone know if there is a print / book sample anywhere?

donshottype's picture

The circa 1900 type specimen books have samples of the various forms of Devinne. A good one is _American specimen book of type styles : complete catalogue of printing machinery and printing supplies. 1912 ([c1912])_ digitized by the University of California and freely available at, an outstanding resource for anyone interested in 19th and early 20th century typefaces.
Use this extract from the index to find the pages with Devinne.

You can read online or download.

mvor's picture

Nice tip, thanks! — downloading now...

mvor's picture

Thanks again for the tip.

Clearly, the face used in BLAST must be a British variant of something like the Lining De Vinne No2:

but the letters seem a little more condensed perhaps?

Interestingly, the condensed is a good match for the lowercase type in Blast —  at smaller sizes the condensed 'Lining De Vinne Condensed no 2 ' lowercase 'R' has the spiky drop leg -

Either way, it is certainly a very good reference — now I just need to see if someone has done a decent digital version!


donshottype's picture

You're welcome.
By 1914 various foundries produced their own flavors of Devinne, wider narrower, a nip here a tuck there. Plus various outline versions.
To find an exact match for the BLAST sample, a possible strategy might be to find out who the printer was & where they bought their type. The reference page mentions "London: John Lane, the Bodley Head." I suspect that the type was probably purchased from a British foundry like Stephenson Blake. So a SB, or other British, specimen book from the era might have the Devinne variation you are seeking.
As for digital interpretations of the Devinne typefaces, most do not exist.
Devinne went from the height of fashionable font taste before WWI to unspeakably quaint in the Art Deco era. It has never returned to fashion.
But in the 21st century there is a market for somewhere for everything, even the Devinne fonts. An opportunity for the enterprising digital font designer.

mvor's picture

Don, many thanks again — this certainly seems like an area that deserves contemporary usage. I can think of two faces - - Fortescue by Colophon ( and Larish by Radim Pesko that seem to be reviving similar traits... (


Dan Gayle's picture

The Bitstream Romana is related, and on MyFonts they give the following description:

The French interest in the revival of suitably edited Oldstyle romans as an alternative to a world of Modern typefaces started in 1846 when Louis Perrin cut the Lyons capitals.

About 1860, as Phemister was cutting the Miller & Richard Old Style in Edinburgh, Theophile Beaudoire turned the idea of the Lyons capitals into a complete Oldstyle typeface, with similar overwhelming success; it was generally known as Elzevir in France and Roemisch, Romanisch, Romaans or Romana in Germany, Holland and Switzerland.

In 1892, Gustav Schroeder, at the Central Division of ATF, expanded the series, adding a boldface under the name DeVinne. It was promptly copied, initially in Europe by Ludwig & Mayer, and spread rapidly throughout the US and Europe, becoming the best known member of the series. ATF made popular an ornamental form under the name De Vinne Ornamental.

Dan Gayle's picture

Now the question is, what is the Lyons capitals? A famous inscription somewhere?

donshottype's picture

Can anyone remember ancient times B.G. -- before Google? Within less than a minute I found an extended discussion at Typophile about Louis Perrin's Lyons capitals.
Lots to read!
BTW the reference to "cut" refers to the action of a punch cutter in cutting a typeface.

donshottype's picture

Another DeVinne/Romana inspired font to add to your collection: Grand Central by the renowned Tobias Frere-Jones .

Dan Gayle's picture

I've seen that Grand Central typeface. Very elegant.

jaylangly's picture


hashiama's picture

oh wow, I just created a Font ID thread the other day looking for the exact same typeface, the lowercase /g/ was what stood out to me as not being like De Vinne typefaces.

For alternatives, see also, Romana and Denver

I still haven't found what the original typeface in Blast magazine was though. Radim Pesko's Mitim is directly inspired by the Blast Magazine face, if you see the text here

*’The typeface, provisionally titled Mitim (there’s something trianglular about that particular palindrome), should be based on the two examples I gave you – the BROADWAY text and the page from BLAST.

jasonsymson's picture

Can any one shed a little light on the actual CONDENSED CAPITALS for BLAST 1?

It's a Gothic and looks similar to Morris Fuller Benton's cuts, and certainly shares qualities with Railroad Gothic.

redactions's picture

The typeface is Grotesque #9. It was designed by Wyndham Lewis, or he at least helped in its design. It is used throughout BLAST and BLAST 2. I am currently using it as part of the 100 Year Anniversary Tribute to BLAST in a journal I run, called Redactions. I also use it as the title on the website, and as the text in the left navigation panel. BLAST turns 100 on July 2, 2014. Long Live the Vortex!

jasonsymson's picture

Many thanks! Long Live the Vortex!

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