Van Dijck

Eluard's picture

I've been here a little while now and have noticed that no one appears to give out any love for Monotype Van Dijck. So, I'd like to know what you guys think. Is it irremediably uninteresting or does it just need a little bit of spacing therapy?

(A confession: I've had it for years but have never found the perfect use for it. I fear I may be handling it wrong.)

Eluard's picture

Well, I guess this gives me my answer! :)

Eluard's picture

Thanks for that. The misspelling of 'Dijck' caused me to miss it.

Gary Long's picture

I've seen van Dijck used in books to good effect, but I think it's too light, aside from whatever other technical deficiencies it might have, and it seems to me that Monotype had it (or maybe it was just the expert set) bundled with another typeface, which would turn off purchasers who just wanted one.

charles ellertson's picture

Like so many fonts from the metal era, when it was released as a Type 1 font -- & probably as photocomp font -- no care was taken to get the glyphs to lay down ink in offset printing like they did with metal. In other words, it is thin & spindly.

I've used it for display (i.e, in large sizes) when wanting an older feel, and using Janson as a text font. And yes, I had to redo the Janson, too. Just too much work to also rework Van Dijck.

I used it for Inside Picture Books by Ellen Handler Spitz -- see

for a sample -- but the sample was scanned from the printed book, & apparently not too well. Worse, the NB edition was itself scanned from the original -- we didn't set the NB edition. It has to be this way, because we ran out repro for the original printing, so there was no PDF file.

Of course, this many generations downstream, the type appears too heavy.


Eluard's picture

Thanks Charles — given the problem that Bringhurst mentions with the word-terminal f I thought it would be an ideal candidate for your contextually subbed alternate f with a wider right bearing.

charles ellertson's picture

Well, this was from PostScript days -- no OpenType features. If I ever revisit the font for text (& I hope I don't), I'll take a look at using a terminal f.

But if you want a 1920s or earlier feel, Van Dijck for display can work.

mondoB's picture

The Frick Collection here in New York uses it for their publications. Works there because the paper stock is dull-coated; as another poster notes, its fine strokes are too spindly to work reliably on uncoated stock, which leaves out book design use under 12 pt. Also, the oldstyle figures are sequestered the old, tedious way in an Expert folder, and it also lacks bold and bold italic. I wish somebody would re-think it the way Josh Darden re-thought Fournier, which also never had bold and bold italic.

charles ellertson's picture

Yes. Of course, some of us old fogies are glad there are no bold or bold italics, since we don't like their use, exp. with classic fonts. If they existed, some young whippersnapper designer who doesn't understand the font would specify them.

BTW, one other reason there were no bolds in text fonts was that when setting Linotype, a bold usually meant a magazine change, which cost money.

will powers's picture

Van Dijck was a wonderful metal face. The great thing about it was that it was one of the few metal Monotype faces that were made in large composition sizes. That meant that one could do an entire oversized limited edition book and have the thing composed on the machine, without all that hand setting. Of course, good limited edition printers then worked over the lines by hand, adjusting word and letter spacing.

It sure made gorgeous pages. I did an edition of Robert Kelly's long poem "Mulberry Women" using machine-set 18-point Van Dijck. The type printed beautifully.

Monotype made some other faces for large composition also. Centaur was available maybe up to 20 or 22 point for machine composition. I cannot recall which others.

I will not go near Centaur or van Dijck for text setting on the computer. For all the reasons noted above, and more. OK for display.


kentlew's picture

Here's a historical tidbit for you.

It is often repeated that Matthew Carter is the only living type designer to have worked professionally in every type technology -- from punch-cutting to machine-cast to phototype to digital (and including wood type now). Well, he never cut an entire font in punches, but one of the few punch-cutting projects he did undertake was to cut a set of numerals to go with the Monotype Van Dijck.

-- K.

Syndicate content Syndicate content