History of Lettering

Spectrum typeface by Jan van Krimpen

I have been going through some of those Penrose volumes on my bookshelves. Came across these images in the 1954 volume.

Spectrum typeface

These are reproductions of the original drawings for the Spectrum typeface designed by Jan van Krimpen, a distinguished typographer based in the Netherlands. It was designed for use in a Bible, being named after the company that commissioned the face – the Spectrum Publishing Company of Utrecht and Brussels.

According to the author of the accompanying article, John Dreyfus, at the time assistant University printer at Cambridge (and later succeeding Stanley Morison as advisor to Monotype – another story, another blog), Spectrum – which was van Krimpen’s last design – has a generous x-height, with narrow capitals and a ‘remarkable compression of the italic’.

What do I think some 50 years on? The upper case C is odd , as is the G naturally, both ungainly, I hate the Z and the Q, and particularly the ‘crossed swords’ of the W. All in all not a hit with me. (Did I mention the Q? Ugh!)


Spectrum typeface



By John Pitt

Artist and Creative

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