Five Centuries published

I ’m pleased to announce the publication of Five Centuries: The Wends and the Reformation by Concordia University Press and The Wendish Press. It was a great pleasure to design this full-color, large-format title heavily illustrated with not only archival photos and contemporary snapshots, but also images of fine paintings, old books, woodcuts, and the like. I also did a good bit of work to edit and refine the translation from the German text of the original German–Wendish publication.

¶  A note on the type

I have set all previous historically oriented cup titles in digital interpretations of the types cut by Miklós Kis, usually known as the ‘Janson’ types; the delicious, and very readable, roughness of Kis’s work always seemed appropriate for books often dealing with rural settings and illustrated by archival photos, and the parallels (Central European, Protestant, intellectual trying to bring education and religion to his people) between him and, say, Jan Kilian or other Sorbian leaders always seemed apposite, even if the centuries, countries, and confessions differed. But while some of the digital versions of the middle and large sizes of Kis’s types are fairly faithful to the originals, the available interpretations of the text sizes are not, and I’ve never been entirely happy with Linotype Janson Text, which has none of the qualities that made the metal versions so popular in the middle of the twentieth century. I knew that this face would fail utterly on the coated stock needed to reproduce the paintings and photos in Five Centuries – so it seemed like a good time to  evolve the house style.

Enter Quadraat, Fred Smeijers’s fine and funky modern interpretation of a Dutch Baroque roman paired with a Renaissance italic. The face has, in a different and unmistakably contemporary way, some of the rumpled character of the Kis types, as well as many features and advantages of its own, the narrowness and independence of the italic being one. And without having been overused – certainly not in the US – it has also been around long enough to demonstrate its staying power. Is it too soon to call it a classic? It certainly has the sense of inevitability and self-possession, the grace that transcends simple notions of perfection, and the combination of timeliness and timelessness that mark ‘classics’ in other areas. In any case I’m extremely pleased with its performance in this case and look forward to working with it more.

Please see the Book Design section of this website for photos.