Homan Hallock's experimental Arabic

John Hudson's picture

In 1864, the punchcutter Homan Hallock, who with Eli Smith was responsible for the admirable ‘American Arabic’ types that were used in the Van Dyck Bible translation, produced this experimental Arabic type. It may be the first attempt at systematic Arabic script reform, preceding the Cairo Academy initiative of 1933 by almost seventy years. It doesn't seem to have been employed, except in the single specimen sheet produced by Hallock.

riccard0's picture

And a century before Wim Crouwel.

hrant's picture

I remember seeing this in an APHA Journal article about Hallock. Even if one doesn't believe it's functional, it's still highly impressive to see such an effort, especially when you consider it was during the metal era.


Vladimir Tamari's picture

Hello John riccardo hrant and Aziz its been a couple of years since my last type activities.
Thanks John for this specimen sheet of Hallock's type I heard about his work described by Saad Abulhab as a predecessor for Saqqal's unconnected Unified Arabic type. Some decades ago (tempus fugit!) I was experimenting with Apple's MacPaint using 'fatbit' mosaics to construct a font. It had the look of these letters here! Hallock's glyphs seem to be generic multi-purpose shapes for example the 'jeem' also has a dot on top so the punch can be used to create jeem ha kha. Same from the ba ta tha noon where all the dots are featured to be 'deleted' later. Interesting - it shows he was serious about the possibility of creating an actual typeface for practical use.

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