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Indices : Typefaces : Century

Theodore Low DeVinne (1829—1914), printer of The Century magazine, designed a stronger, bolder and more readable face for the magazine and commissioned Linn Boyd Benton (1844—1932) of ATF to cut it.

L.B. Benton cut it on the newly invented Benton punch-cutting machine and in 1895 was christened Century Roman. Afterwards, a companion face was created for ATF by L.B. Benton: Century no. 2, later called Century Broad-face.

This face became the basis for Century Expanded, designed by L.B.’s son, Morris Fuller Benton (1872-1948) in 1902. Over the course of three more years, the italic, bold and bold italics were developed.

Then after a few more years, Morris Fuller Benton developed Century Oldstyle.
In 1915, redevelopment of Oldstyle face began and was renamed Century Book.
Soon after, ATF was approached by Ginn & Co., the textbook publisher, with a request for a new typeface for schoolbooks. M.F. Benton began review of research done at Clark University on the relationship between the legibility of type and the eyesight of children.

Consequently, Benton increased the space between letters, the x-height of each letter, and the weight of each stroke, and balanced the color of the type by opening up the counters. The result was Century Schoolbook, completed in 1919.

In 1964 ATF commissioned Charles E. Hughes to design a new proportion for Century Expanded… the result, Century Nova, which was more condensed.

Under license from ATF, Tony Stan designed the sixteen weight ITC Century family between 1975 and 1980 for International Typeface Corporation. It has the characteristic large x-height of 70s era ITC fonts. Some differences from Century are the missing serif on the lowercase h, m, n in the ITC. One view of ITC Century is that its color is not good at smaller text sizes, but its light weight is excellent at larger text sizes (eg 14 pt), especially the italic.

New Century Schoolbook was designed 1979-81 in the New York Lettering office of Merganthaler Linotype, based on Century Schoolbook. It was the second face, after New Baskerville, that was digitized and expanded using Ikarus (digital technology). The Bitstream version is a near exact copy, only being moved from a 54 unit to a 2000 or so unit design. Matthew Carter designed the Greek version of New Century Schoolbook.

A recent, somewhat eccentric version of Century School Book is Grad by Phil Martin, digitized by Mark Simonson.