You’re looking at one of many first Latin-alphabet sans serif typefaces. Properly, form of. Printed in 1786, Valentin Haüy’s Essay on the Education of the Blind (Essai sur l’éducation des aveugles) showcases in your entire fundamental textual content his mission, one of many first makes an attempt to create a Latin-alphabet writing system for the blind. His strategy was embossing simplified characters onto paper, which may very well be frivolously inked to permit the sighted to learn them additionally. This comes thirty years earlier than the Caslon capitals-only “Egyptian” of 1816 that celebrates its two-hundredth anniversary this yr and is the primary sans serif typeface recognized to have been made for general-purpose audiences.

Haüy’s typeface is extraordinary — rooted in script writing, however with a large spacing that makes it unmistakably print writing, it makes use of swashes on virtually all of the capitals, apparently to make them extra distinguishable. It’s been mentioned in lots of different sources, most notably by the good James Mosley, whose comments on the now defunct Typophile and The Nymph and the Grot on it and different early sans serifs are a must-read for anybody fascinated with the place sans serifs come from, and in addition by Joseph Alessio. However the entire book is available for the informal reader to look at on Google Books now in two unbiased digitisations.

Aesthetically, to my non-expert eyes, it seems to be remarkably not like most something that will be typeset (versus engraved) within the Latin alphabet for concerning the subsequent hundred years. What (to me) makes it look very fashionable is its normal delicacy and text-face construct (one might mistake it for a FontFont typeface from the 1990s) and the single-storey ‘a’ and ‘g’, making it, in impact, an upright italic. (In fact, script typefaces typically have some sans serif traits, proper again to the first.) Attention-grabbing particulars abound: the flourish on the the ‘d’ (c.f. early chancery italic typefaces), the flamboyant broad ampersand, the ‘i’ and lower-case ‘L’ with curls, the swashed upper-case ‘i’. The ‘s’ is a bit long-s-ish, however there doesn’t appear to be use of a separate lengthy and brief ‘s’. It seems to be ahead to the early sans serif italics of the late nineteenth century and ATF’s Announcement Roman, and in addition seems to be a bit like fashionable handwriting-influenced upright faces like Sassoon and Andika, however most of all it’s completely not like the galumphing sans serif display capitals that will come out of British after which German and American foundries beginning across the 1830s. (The complicated swashed capital ‘I’ shouldn’t be distinctive: it turns up in some handwriting and blackletter kinds and even a few adaptations of Akzidenz-Grotesk.)

Concerning its printing, the title page notes that it was printed not just for however by blind kids in Haüy’s college. Celebrating this achievement, a duplicate was introduced to King Louis XVI on Boxing Day 1786. Haüy describes this printing technique from web page 30 onwards.

Sadly, after all, Haüy’s system with its low data density seems to be very good however was fairly garbage for precise blind folks. One among his college students, Louis Braille, on the age of simply 15 … effectively, I feel you understand that story. Though Alastair Johnston’s judgment of the typeface as “illegible, even to sighted readers” appears a bit harsh. Haüy’s letters (or copies) had been used for headings on an early 1829 Braille specimen, by the way, and images of this present what it seems to be like with out inking (primarily the identical).

The introduction and conclusion sections of the ebook are printed in standard typefaces of the 1780s, that appear like early fashionable (or later old-style?) faces, going by the curled ‘R’ on many fonts.

You possibly can see good photographs of a copy of the book here placed on sale in 2013 to present a normal sense of what it seems to be like. Or, certainly, for the low value of €6,500, you possibly can have bought it. A digital revival of Haüy’s typeface may be had for much less: In 2006, Harold Lohner created the very cute and fairly trustworthy Valentin.


Blythwood is fascinated with issues science, well being, transportation, trade, Gill Sans and Monotype. An avid Wikipedia editor, Blythwood’s objective is to enhance protection of fonts and printing there. After having contributed a dozen selection posts to the Fonts In Use Assortment, that is the primary to look within the Weblog.

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