Roger Excoffon, a forgotten centenary

Scott-Martin Kosofsky's picture

A friend, who is by no means a typophile, brought to my attention this article from the culture blog of The Economist. It's about the centenary of the birth of Roger Excoffon, the great designer of the types Mistral, Banco, and Antique Olive, among others, and the man who gave Air France its trademark look in its heyday. To my French colleagues who were, apparently, oblivious to the event, I say "honte à toi! Honte inexpiable!"

Scott-Martin Kosofsky

Aaron Thesing's picture

I had no idea Mistral was so widespread in France!

I must admit (with some guilt) that I tended to dislike most of Excoffon's typefaces until I saw this lecture given by Process Type Foundry, where Eric Olson talks (near the 23 minute mark) about the beginnings of Excoffon's Antique Olive. Becoming aware of how well Excoffon's typefaces had been used in the past made me appreciate them. I still cringe when I see mercilessly distorted Antique Olive and Banco though.

Nick Shinn's picture

Does Antique Olive still hold the record for largest x-height?

I used it for the body copy of some ads in the 1980s, very solid!

typerror's picture

And do not forget his phenomenal agility with a brush!

Jan's picture

Interview with Ken Barber of House Industries:

What typeface do you look at and say, “I wish I had created that!”?

Anything by Roger Excoffon.

David Rault's picture

Hello everyone,

Seems to be the right time and location to announce this: I am currently halfway through the layout of an upcoming book about Roger Excoffon. The book will focus on Excoffon's life and achievements, and will also contain memories, recollections and essays from his friends and admirers, such as Peter Knapp, Jose Mendoza y Almeida, Hrant Papazian, Jean-Francois Porchez, Massin, Yves Perrousseaux, Francois Richaudeau, et al. It will be filled with high quality illustrations, rare documents and photographs, and the text will be in french and english.

The book, "Roger Excoffon, gentleman & typographe", is due to be released around spring 2011 at Atelier Perrousseaux (

James Mosley's picture

Anyone in London on 26 October within reach of the St Bride Library might find it worthwhile to attend the following event at 7 pm:

This year marks the centenary of the birth of Roger Excoffon, arguably the most famous and innovative French type designer of the 20th century. For the 2010 Beatrice Warde Memorial Lecture, Sébastien Morlighem will share his research on Excoffon from the past three years, as an introduction to the forthcoming book Roger Excoffon et la Fonderie Olive (Bibliothèque typographique). The lecture will be an opportunity to unveil many previously unknown documents and to discuss several aspects of his work for the Fonderie Olive.

David Rault's picture

And here is the cover of the upcoming book:


johndberry's picture

Does this mean that there will be two new books about Excoffon coming out soon?


David Rault's picture

Yes it does... And none was aware of the other one until a few months ago.

hrant's picture

Oh, I didn't know about that one. John, sorry I misinformed you in Dublin by saying that "other book" is about José Mendoza y Almeida (although there is one like that).


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