Perpetua (typeface)

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Perpetua (typeface)_table_infobox_0

Monotype PerpetuaPerpetua (typeface)_table_caption_0
CategoryPerpetua (typeface)_header_cell_0_0_0 SerifPerpetua (typeface)_cell_0_0_1
Designer(s)Perpetua (typeface)_header_cell_0_1_0 Eric GillPerpetua (typeface)_cell_0_1_1
FoundryPerpetua (typeface)_header_cell_0_2_0 Monotype CorporationPerpetua (typeface)_cell_0_2_1
Date releasedPerpetua (typeface)_header_cell_0_3_0 1929–32Perpetua (typeface)_cell_0_3_1
VariationsPerpetua (typeface)_header_cell_0_4_0 Perpetua TitlingPerpetua (typeface)_cell_0_4_1

Perpetua is a serif typeface that was designed by English sculptor and stonemason Eric Gill for the British Monotype Corporation. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_0

Perpetua was commissioned at the request of Stanley Morison, an influential historian of printing and adviser to Monotype around 1925, at a time when Gill's reputation as a leading artist-craftsman was high. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_1

Perpetua was intended as a crisp, contemporary design not following any specific historic model, with a structure influenced by Gill's experience of carving lettering for monuments and memorials. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_2

Perpetua is commonly used for covers and headings and also sometimes for body text; it has been particularly popular in fine book printing. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_3

Perpetua was released with characters for the Greek alphabet and a matching set of titling capitals for headings. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_4

Perpetua is named for the Christian martyr Vibia Perpetua, an account of whose life was used in one of its first showings; its companion italic is named "Felicity" for her companion of that name. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_5

The choice had appeal to Morison and Gill, both converts to Catholicism. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_6

Design Perpetua (typeface)_section_0

Perpetua is often classified as a transitional serif font, with a delicate structure somewhat similar to British fonts from the eighteenth century such as Baskerville and stonecarved (lapidary) inscriptions in the same style. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_7

However, it does not directly revive any specific historical model. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_8

Characteristic "transitional" features in Perpetua include considerable contrast in stroke width, crisp horizontal serifs, a delicate colour on the page and a reasonably vertical axis, with letters such as ‘O’ having their thinnest points at the top and bottom. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_9

Along with these characteristics, Perpetua bears the distinct personality of Gill's characteristic preferences in carving monumental lettering for uses such as tombstones, dedications and war memorials. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_10

Fine book printer Christopher Sandford of the Chiswick Press, who knew Gill, commented that "all Gill's types…are variants of Gill's own very lovely, very personal hand-lettering." Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_11

Letter designs in Perpetua common in Gill's work include the 'a' that forms a sharp point without serif, the extended leg of the 'R' and the flat-topped 'A'. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_12

In italic, the 'a' has a smooth top and the 'g' is a "single-storey" design recalling handwriting. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_13

The top of the 'f' has a wedge-shaped serif. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_14

Historian James Mosley suggests that a rubbing of a 1655 engraving at Rye may have been an influence on the design. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_15

Perpetua's italic also has some flourishes in the capitals. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_16

However, rather than being fully cursive in style, some characters resemble oblique type or the "sloped roman" style, a style rarely used for serif fonts in which letters are slanted but do not take on as many handwriting characteristics as in a "true italic". Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_17

Examples of this are the flat foot serifs on letters like 'h', 'm' and 'n', where most body text italics would have a curl or no serif at all. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_18

In structure, Perpetua appears relatively light in colour and rather "small" on the page, although this is less problematic in the carefully designed metal type, in which every size was carefully drawn differently, than in digital facsimile. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_19

Background Perpetua (typeface)_section_1

Gill began work on Perpetua in 1925 at the request of Stanley Morison, typographical advisor to Monotype; they had met in 1913. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_20

Morison sought Gill's talent to design a new typeface for the foundry, asking for a "roman letter suitable for book reading, which while being new, was to be of general utility and in no respect unusual." Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_21

In his memoir and assessment of Monotype's work, A Tally of Types (1953, after Gill's death), Morison claimed that he had chosen to collaborate with Gill because of a desire to create a new typeface on a pattern following no past model, and an impression that previous artistically inclined typefaces cut as niche products for the private use of fine press printing companies had been too eccentric: Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_22

Morison wrote that he felt that Gill as a sculptor, with a trade of work more akin to the engraving process used to sculpt the master punches traditionally used to make metal type, could succeed where these designers, mostly trained in calligraphy, had not: Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_23

Morison engaged Gill to develop drawings for the face around 1925. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_24

Usage Perpetua (typeface)_section_2

Mosley, in an article on Perpetua's development, comments that the design's: Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_25

Ultimately, despite Morison's high hopes for Perpetua, it has remained something of a niche face, particularly popular for high-quality printing projects and uses such as headings. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_26

Morison late in life conceded that Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_27

Perpetua's appeal to fine book printers has been long-standing since its release, both in the UK and abroad. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_28

Christopher Sandford wrote of Perpetua and Gill’s similar type for the Golden Cockerel Press that “it is important that type in combination with finely cut engravings should not be so ‘bold’ as to 'kill' the artists' work, it is also important that it should not be too light to make a comfortable combination. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_29

While Gill's Perpetua is probably better suited to combine with line-engravings in copper, etchings, mezzotints or watercolour paintings, the [somewhat bolder] 'Golden Cockerel' type undoubtedly fulfilled Gill's intention for it to combine most charmingly with surface printing from wood-blocks." Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_30

Vivian Ridler, some years later to become Printer to the University of Oxford, was so inspired by Gill's work around this time that he named his side printing project the Perpetua Press after the font in 1933. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_31

OUP book designer Hugh Williamson, in his Methods of Book Design (1956), however warned that Perpetua's 12 pt size was smaller than "any other series now in general use" but commented that Gill had proven that "the design of alphabets for printing has further achievements to offer to artists of the stature to reach them." Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_32

Two connected designs created around and after the time of its project at Morison's instigation became among the most popular typefaces ever designed. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_33

Morison was consulted to advise on a custom typeface for the Times around the end of Perpetua's convoluted development. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_34

One of several options proposed was a modified version of Perpetua, increased in bulk for the conditions of newspaper printing. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_35

(Robin Kinross has noted that Perpetua's basic design is "hardly robust enough for newspaper printing.") Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_36

In the end Monotype created a new font, Times New Roman, for that project instead, basing it on an earlier typeface named Plantin, but one of the key modifications was sharpening Times's serifs, similar to Perpetua's design; Morison's cited reason for the change was to resemble the previous fonts used. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_37

Times New Roman when released to general use rapidly became one of the most popular fonts in the history of printing. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_38

In Monotype's sales chart through to 1984 Times ranks top of all, with Perpetua eighteenth out of forty-three. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_39

The Times did use Perpetua Titling for some sections in the metal type period. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_40

While working on the project Morison engaged Gill also to begin work on a sans-serif project, which became the extremely successful Gill Sans series, ranking fifth on Monotype's sales chart. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_41

Mosley describes this as "a best-selling design whose sales record must have compensated Monotype for many well-meaning failures." Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_42

Development Perpetua (typeface)_section_3

The process of Perpetua's development was extremely convoluted. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_43

After Gill had produced his drawings, Morison decided not to send them to the Monotype engineering department at Salfords, Surrey, with which he had had disagreements. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_44

Instead, he commissioned at his own expense for the punchcutter of Paris in 1926 to manually engrave punches which were used to cast trial metal type. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_45

Manually cutting punches was the standard method of creating the matrices, or moulds used to cast metal type, in the previous century, but was now effectively a niche artisanal approach replaced by machine pantograph engraving. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_46

Once the Malin type had been cast, Gill found some of his decisions unsatisfying seen in extended passages of text, leading him to propose changes and corrections. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_47

These were ultimately used to develop a final set of working drawings for commercial release. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_48

Gill made several attempts at designing a companion italic face for Perpetua. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_49

One was a sloped roman, in which the regular style is slanted without the different letterforms of italic type. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_50

This unusual design decision was done under the influence of Morison's opinion that a sloped roman form was preferable to that of cursive italics for use in book text, providing less of a contrast with the roman. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_51

However, the oblique was not accepted by Monotype management, who went so far as to declare it "worthless." Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_52

Ultimately a more conventional italic was used instead. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_53

Morison commented to his friend Jan van Krimpen that "we did not give enough slope to it. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_54

When we added more slope, it seemed that the fount required a little more cursive to it." Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_55

A slightly condensed italic alphabet Gill had drawn for Gerald Meynell of the Westminster Press was also considered as a basis for its italic. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_56

An early showing of Perpetua in The Fleuron, a journal edited by Morison, suggested that Gill might design a script or calligraphic font, "Felicity Script", as a companion, but this was never developed. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_57

Perpetua was set in a limited edition of a new translation by Walter H. Shewring of The Passion of Perpetua and Felicity, giving birth to the name of the typeface and its companion italic. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_58

The book was printed in 1929. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_59

The same type and illustrations (also done by Gill) for that book subsequently appeared in the journal on printing Fleuron (number 7) which was edited by Morison and printed in 1930; Gill Sans was also promoted in an issue of it. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_60

Also set in Perpetua and published in 1929 was Gill's Art Nonsense and Other Essays. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_61

While some sources give Perpetua a release date of 1929 based on these early uses, Perpetua was not to enter full commercial sale until 1932. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_62

Once on sale, it was sold for Monotype's typesetting machines, which cast metal type under the control of a keyboard, and also sometimes offered in metal type for hand-setting for the use of larger sizes and smaller printers. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_63

Users Perpetua (typeface)_section_4

Perpetua (typeface)_unordered_list_0

Digitisations and adaptations Perpetua (typeface)_section_5

Perpetua has been digitised by Monotype and a basic release is included with Microsoft Office. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_64

The professional release adds additional features likely to be used in professional printing, such as small capitals and text figures. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_65

Lapidary 333 by Bitstream is an unofficial digitisation. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_66

Related typefaces Perpetua (typeface)_section_6

As many of Gill's faces and lettering projects show characteristic features, many of Gill's other families are similar in spirit. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_67

Joanna has similarities to Perpetua but a more robust colour on the page with regular slab serifs and an only slightly slanted italic; Gill described it as "a book face free from all fancy business". Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_68

Gill's family for the Golden Cockerel Press, which has been digitised as ITC Golden Cockerel, also has similarities. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_69

Monotype's Gill Facia family from the digital period, reviving Gill's lettering projects such as for WH Smith, is a more festive and decorative family in the same style particularly intended for display-size text. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_70

After Gill's death Monotype's competitor Linotype, seeking to have a Gill design for their line-up, licensed rights to a roman type by Gill for the Bunyan Press, and released it with a Gill-style italic under the name of "Pilgrim". Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_71

This proved very successful: Frank Newfeld has praised it as "a gutsier Perpetua". Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_72

Financier, by Kris Sowersby, is a respected revival influenced by Perpetua and other Gill designs, in particular the more solid Solus and Joanna. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_73

Particularly acclaimed for being released in optical sizes for small and large text unlike the official Monotype digitisations, it was commissioned by the Financial Times and has also been commercially released. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_74

Also loosely inspired by Perpetua is Constantia, a typeface by John Hudson for Microsoft and intended to render well for onscreen display. Perpetua (typeface)_sentence_75


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perpetua (typeface).