5.1.2: 1910 - heden - Letters (incl. letter design, typecasting and type foundries)

In the twentieth century, the Lettergieterij 'Amsterdam' voorheen N. Tetterode (LA), developed into one of the largest foundries in the world. What little competition there was in the Netherlands mainly came from German companies. In 1912 the LA produced S.H. de Roos' 'Hollandsche Mediæval'. This first modern Dutch text face (more or less a Jenson revival) was to be used for decades, later mainly in commercial printing. Besides original designs, De Roos also adapted existing types for his employer. After the Second World War, Dick Dooijes and L.H.D. Smit were the company's in-house designers, although the LA also continued to obtain material from foreign companies and freelancers.

The foundry of Joh. Enschedé en Zonen did not make its mark again until 1925 with its own designs, including the Lutetia by Jan van Krimpen, who joined the company in Haarlem in that year. Although the LA had been co-operating with the manufacturer of the Intertype composing machine since 1914, Van Krimpen's types usually also appeared with the British Monotype Corporation. His most ambitious project was the Romulus (1937) which even included a matching sanserif (never published). Sem Hartz, also with Enschedé, developed two text types including the Juliana (1958) for Linotype.

In the 1920s, the leading role of the type foundries had been taking over by Monotype. Although the linecasting machines of Linotype and Intertype were often used for books, designers swore by the single-character monotype machines, with faces such as Times New Roman, Bembo and Garamond. The Times (1932), developed as a newspaper type, was an exceptional success internationally for all kinds of printed matter.

After 1950, offset printing and photo-composition gained more and more ground at the expense of letterpress printing. At the end of the 1960s, the last new series of metal type appeared. Chris Brand's Albertina (Monotype, 1965) was the first new Dutch design to become available for the photocomposition machine, in the seventies and eighties followed by new text faces designed by Gerard Unger and Bram de Does. Their work is widespread in the Netherlands, from books to house styles. The Trinité (1982) by De Does is often used for publications in the areas of (children's) literature and art.

The Macintosh computer and software programs such as Fontographer and Ikarus M democratised the profession in the eighties. Type designers were no longer dependent on typesetting machine manufacturers, but were able to produce the fonts themselves, a process which earlier had been very expensive. In the nineties, graduates from the Graphic Design departments of the academies in The Hague (where Gerrit Noordzij taught) and Arnhem caught international attention. Successful fonts such as Scala (Martin Majoor) and Quadraat (Fred Smeijers) were published by FontShop, a German company that conducts business world-wide.

Although type faces (such as PostScriptfont) have dropped sharply in price since the early nineties and a considerable amount is used illegally, there is nevertheless a market for high-quality fonts. There are, for instance, two Dutch digital font foundries that produce revivals and new designs: the Dutch Type Library and The Enschedé Font Foundry. Some designers, however, publish their own fonts or keep them for their own use.

author: M. Lommen

Letters (incl. letter design, typecasting and type foundries)