Which Didone?

gulliver's picture

The "Which Bodoni?" thread has me curious
about something.

Of those who like modern (didone) typefaces,
whether used for text or display, which design
is your favorite? Bodoni? Didot? Walbaum?
Or something else entirely?


Nick Shinn's picture

As a type designer, I am particularly interested in mid-19th century "moderns" -- it seems to me that in what we have available today, in digital, there is nothing which has the extremeModernSample1870

serifs which effectively close off the aperture, and in some instances (eg the "ar" in March) almost turn the italic into a script. So I'm working on a "modern" that has these features.

But perhaps it's alreadybeen done. Anyone?...

dyana's picture

I love Didot. Walbaum's x-height is too big for my taste, and I'm not very fond of that little peak found in the strokes of most Bodonis. Plus, Didot is fun to say.

kentlew's picture

I dislike Bodonis and Didots, generally speaking, but I have become fond of MT Walbaum lately.

Dyana, make sure you're looking at the Monotype version, which is based closely on one of Walbaum's text sizes, as opposed to the more prevalent versions, such as Linotype's, which is based on display sizes, or variations like Matthew's Wiredbaum or Newsbaum. I don't care for those myself.

But the MT Walbaum makes an interesting book face -- not general-purpose, by any means, but interesting and suitable for certain texts.

-- K.

kentlew's picture

Oh, I forgot -- even better: Storm's recent digitization of Walbaum Text. Wunderbar!

If Storm's website ever comes back on-line, look for the PDF specimen.

-- K.

jcoltz's picture

Totally with Kent, here -- Storm's Walbaum Text is incredible -- more inclusive than Monotype's or Berthold's (small) text versions, and showing better color on the page. And yes, until the PDF of which Kent writes is available again, we'll have to do with this abbreviated sample:


If I'm allowed to stretch the boundaries of the category a bit here, I'd like to put in a strong vote for Chris Burke's FF Celeste: Elegant, versatile, multilingual!


cph's picture

Here's the PDF for Storm's JBW (Jannon Baskerville Walbaum) set.

dyana's picture

Kent. Du bist solch ein Buchentwerfer. :wink:

I agree, Walbaum works better as a text. But looking at the letters purely as glyphs, I still prefer Didot. No bracketing, just straight lines, lines, lines. I love the high contrast. Which, yeah, makes it less suited for text.

Walbaum does have a nice italic k though.

kentlew's picture

>Du bist solch ein Buchentwerfer.

You know, I don't speak a lick of German, really. But I get the gist. "Buchentwerfer" -- I love it; maybe I should put that on my business card: Kent Lew, Buchentwerfer.

>I still prefer Didot.

Chaque a son go

jcoltz's picture

> There should be something like a "Modern Modern Serif" classification for it. ;)


gulliver's picture

I know this isn't necessarily the traditional way,
but I have started thinking of "modern" as
the umbrella term, which encompasses such
subcategories as "didone", "fat-face", the old-
style "moderns" that Nick mentioned, and even
"Scotch roman" -- all of which can be called
"modern", but each is also a distinct
classification in itself.

Perhaps fonts such as Celeste and Kepler
deserve subcategories of their own?
"Demi-didone" seems as good a name as any....



jfp's picture

When you speak about Celeste, don't miss ITC Fenice who belong same features in some way (I think about serifs in place of usual bowls)

gulliver's picture

I've always quite liked Torino as a display face, although it seems a too condensed and delicate for any real text applications.


Indeed. There are several "moderns" that don't really fit well with the usual "didones". Fenice fits closer than some, in many ways, but it has its differences too, like the serifs which you mentioned, and the sloped roman in place of a true italic.


Then there are other "moderns" that really seem to defy the usual classifications, such as Bernhard Modern.


There's also the oddly-named Goudy Modern, which would actually seem to fit more comfortably with the neoclassical "transitional" designs like Baskerville or Cochin than with the "moderns".


And what of fonts like Century, which are usually classified as Egyptians (slab-serifs), but seem to have almost as much in common with Scotch romans and (forgive the oxymoron) old "moderns"?



The closest I've found to the old "moderns" like the one you posted are fonts like Scotch Roman (a close match), Modern No. 20, Modern Extended, and Monotype Modern (probably the next closest match, along with Century), et al.





But none exactly the same as what you posted. I'd be interested in seeing your interpretation.


hrant's picture

Nick, you mean something like this?
I drew that a long time ago, but that's the only glyph I have.
The [non-existent] font is called Times Newer Omen.


I didn't used to give Walbaum a second look, but after reading an article about the face in the Czech TYPO magazine (issue #1) I can see its merits now. BTW, the article shows 7 different cuts!


Nick Shinn's picture

>Nick, you mean something like this?

Not quite that extreme, although it does have interesting possibilities.

I guess the sample I showed was a bit low res. The way it printed was really on the threshold of closing the aperture -- the serifs are so close together that sometimes they do touch, sometimes they don't, depending on slight differences of inking/pressure on different pieces of type on the page. In that sense, it's like Font Bureau's Giza. ie Let's make the gap really small.

It's that "hairline gap" idea that interests me, and it could even be an "optical scaling" feature.

My point is that the digitizers of faces like DeVinne backed off a bit, understandably, as they were making a single master version. But if you look at the l.c. "a" and its tail, that comes 1/3 way up the x-height in the c.1900 version, but 1/4 way up in the Bitstream version.

Bald Condensed's picture

I agree with Kent here, I wouldn't include FF Celeste
in the Didone category. There should be something
like a "Modern Modern Serif" classification for it. ;)

As a result of the growing difficulties I'm experiencing
with classifying contemporary type designs using the
"classic" system, I've noticed that problem can be
solved by using double classification, like "vernacular
humanist sans". Maybe food for another thread...

Back on topic:
Although I have no particular fondness for Didones
myself, I did use the ITC Bodoni licence which came
with the update of my Bitstream TypeHigh CD-ROM,
and found the different optical sizes perfectly suited
to tackle the problem of using Didones in text sizes.

Bald Condensed's picture

Ooooh, clever! =D

Bald Condensed's picture

What's that supposed to be, Hrant? Disco-didone?
Check the elephant trouser serifs! ;P

I must say I've been using some "Century"-type
Moderns/Didones similar to the one Nick's referring
to (De Vinne, Madison and to a certain extent Textype)
for the odd job and I've come to appreciate the
extremeness of the serifs too. If you ever come up
with a design which pushes the envelope even further,
I'd be very interested in seeing the results!

Bald Condensed's picture

Which reminds me, Gerard Unger once came to Belgium
when I was still working at FontShop and had me do a
large amount of test settings with mostly Moderns and
some of his types.
We had an inhouse imagesetter (Agfa 1200 whatever) so
we output the pages on whaddayacall bromure in English?
It was a very enlightening experience, tweaking point
sizes and leading, comparing character counts, x-heights
et al.

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