eric gill typography

Kayo – also known as Gill Sans Ultra Bold

An article in the Penrose Annual of 1937 by Robert Harling – Necessities and Novelties – led me to the Monotype Type Catalogue, via a quick internet search, to discover more about a type he had designed and commercially produced in 1936 called Kayo.

Harling writes: “Back to novelties, we find that Eric Gill has again adventured into the display world with two new types, one of which, Jubilee, is almost ecclesiastical in its dignity, stability and general decorum, and the other, Kayo, so fantastic as to take us immediately back to the dark ages of so much of the nineteenth-century display typography. Kayo is a dismal type. ..The type was originally named Double Elefans, which had a very pleasant touch of the lampoon about it. The new name, Kayo, is too horribly truthful. ..Typographical historians of 2000AD (which isn’t, after all, so very far away) will find this odd outburst in Mr Gill’s career, and will spend much time in attempting to track down this sad psychological state of his during 1936.”

Well – will we?

What do you think about this ‘lampoon’?

2 replies on “Kayo – also known as Gill Sans Ultra Bold”

Well, I for one agree with Mr. Harling. Gill Sans Ultra Bold is one of the ugliest fonts I’ve ever seen. But the rest of the family isn’t great either. For instance, the W3C has some pages in Gill Sans Regular, which looks stretched, fuzzy, and nearly unreadable.

I’ve used this font a few times, though only in all caps and with quite a bit of tweaking. I really like the way “C” and “O” dovetail and it’s weight and informal rhythm make it decent for children’s packaging and filling the font with a texture, etc. I’ve used it as a slightly more structured version of Foo or Dreamland. The lower case “i” is one of the most hideous letter forms I’ve ever seen, however.

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