Two different Bible typefaces.

I'd like the know the typefaces used in two different Finnish Bibles.

The first one, printed in 1991. A sans-serif face which is I think is difficult read in a book and the printing job is poor.


The second one, printed in 1931. This one should be easier. (The fat numerals also, please.)


The fat numerals look pretty much Bodonish, but how come the most digitized Bodonis don't have them?

The numerals are, as far as I can tell, Poster Bodoni.

The top one looks like Trade Gothic Condensed or maybe News Gothic Condensed, but I may be wrong with those suggestions.

- Lex

Awful type on the first example.


The serif font is a Bodoni all right, but it is not the Haas or Bauer version, because of the 't'. I think the 'a' looks most like the Ludlow version, where the serif curls back a bit more than the Linotype or Monotype versions. We are talking about metal type, and I know there were Bodonis from every foundry, so this part will be based more on what samples we can find of metal type showings, but are you more interested in a digital Bodoni that seems close than in finding out what metal typeface was used?

- Mike Yanega

...but are you more interested in a digital Bodoni that seems close than in finding out what metal typeface was used?

I was just curious, I'm not using these typefaces anywhere.

The main reason I posted these, though, is that I wanted to know the typeface in the first example and even more how on earth did they come up with such poor typography. There are even some stains here and there on some pages and the letters are jumping up and down. The typeface doesn't work in that context (Bible) and is a nuisance to read in big chunks. I paid a lot for this Bible, it's a rare piece and an old translation that isn't sold in Finland anymore.

The second Bible (even older edition and translation) is far nicer to read and the printing job is clean, but — being a web designer and all — I have no experience of identifying or judging print typography (the ink spread especially is foreign to me).

Anyway, I'm surprised that it's Bodoni in the second example. It looks tremendously different from the Bodonis I've used to seeing on-screen.

Thanks for the info though, it was very interesting and useful to know.

Well, to me the most un-Bodoni part of it is how dark it looks, like a medium or almost bold weight. The contrast is less than you expect to see. For ID purposes I would like to see certain other letters, like b, C, W and Q if they show up in Finnish. Those letters could confirm whether Bodoni was used. I think my Serif Font ID Guide could help identify this with a few more Key letters. The closest font I get using it right now is Berthold Augustea, which shares a lot of the Bodoni letterforms, so I admit I am at a loss.

Do you think Augustea looks closer? It was designed in the early 1900's, so it should have been available.

- Mike Yanega

Augustea is a pretty nice match. And no, there isn't C, W or Q in native Finnish words, and although they're in our alphabet, I doubt they will be found in the Bible (how many names beginning with Q or W do you remember from e.g. Hebrew?).

Well, to me the most un-Bodoni part of it is how dark it looks, like a medium or almost bold weight.

That's exatcly what surprised me. The high contrast there on the paper is nothing like the hair-thin lines onscreen. The contrast is more like that of Baskerville's to me.

But I've always been under the impression that the effects of ink spread has been "added" to the typefaces when they were ditigized. That's why the digitized Centaur looks so thin and suffering, because the design was based on metal type and not how it looks on paper.

One of the letters I mentioned that you didn't exclude from Finnish was the 'b'. If it has a straight stem, then that rules out most Bodonis, which have a horizontal serif at the baseline. The other clue would be the G, which is cut off in your sample. If it has a 'beard', then it is not Bodoni.

- Mike Yanega

Sorry for the large images.

Whatever it is, it's a very beautiful and legible typeface printed.

By the way, my father was previously a typesetter so he may know something.

I think Bodoni is pretty much ruled out.

I tried running the Serif Font ID Guide again with a new look at some of the letters. The 'b' does have the Bodoni-style serif, by the way, but I agree that Bodoni is not the right family.

What I got this time, because of the 'b' was French Round Face, which dates from 1906 (it was a Monotype typeface).

What do you think of that one? (We are still compiling the Serif Font ID Guide, but it includes over 1,200 families, so it's not a bad place to look for a start.)

- Mike Yanega

Thanks, French Round Face is probably the closest it gets. The only difference is the uppercase J which is wider in your example. By the way, has it been digitized under some other name? Or is there anything similar in contrast and style in the digital world?

Not that I'm about to print a Bible or anything, so don't quit your day job because of this type ID.

The typeface belongs to Lanston Type, which P22 now has the rights for digital fonts. However, they have not apparently digitized this one yet. See the P22 List of Lanston Typefaces [No. 150].

I would say that Berthold Augustea, which was mentioned earlier, is the closest digital type I can find. Only the 'b' seems much different to me.

- Mike Yanega

The topic reminds me of a beautiful bible set in Hans Eduard Meiers Syntax.
A pitty I didn't buy that then...

Augustea is perfect, it has exactly the same feel.

Too bad I have to pay for the whole package if I ever want to use one or two weights in some design.