TidningsHuset by Pontus
3 Comments on “TidningsHuset by Pontus”
Thanks for posting this, Richard!
This is an impressive identity, and I’m sure it will do the job just fine. However, since this site is about the finer points of type, I have to comment on a detail that irks me. The Blackletter logo contains a glyph that doesn’t belong there. German printers used to call this a Zwiebelfisch (“onion fish”): a Fisch — i.e. a sort from a wrong font (style or size) — that actually ended up being printed. Can you spot the odd one out?
It’s about the ‘s’. That’s not one that comes with Fette Gotisch. There are many things about Blackletter that make it difficult to use for a general audience today, think unfamiliar or ambiguous letterforms like ‘G’, ‘k’, ‘w’, ‘I’/‘T’, or ‘x’/‘r’. In “TidningsHuset”, I could see why one would want to avoid the ‘H’, with its enlarged descending minuscule form, further obscured by spur and swash. The ‘s’, however, is pretty straightforward. Why did the designers of Bold replace it?
My hunch is that they used URW’s digitization. In this version — unlike in Linotype’s or Lindenthal’s — the standard ‘s’ is a long one — the glyph that looks like a barless ‘f’. If one were to follow traditional spelling rules, both forms would be necessary: Tidningshuset (“newspaper house”) becomes Tidnings·huſet. The “round” form is used only when the ‘s’ is in final position of morphemes, including parts of compounds. Looking at historic newspaper nameplates, one can see that this distinction was made in Sweden, too: Götheborgs Wecko-Liſta (1750), Stockholms Poſten (1827).
I wouldn’t argue that it is necessary to follow this convention nowadays. Forssman & De Jong mention that the long ‘s’ may be discarded in Textura typefaces, especially in non-German text and when it helps to avoid confusion. Also, using the round ‘s’ exclusively is in tune with period uses, see e.g. the Falu-Posten nameplate from 1869, featuring a Textura with contour and flourishes. The absence of the long ‘s’ in TidningsHuset is not the issue.
What bothers me is that the ersatz ‘s’ doesn’t match, in terms of style. Fette Gotisch belongs — as its generic name indicates — to the Gotisch (gothic) typefaces that, like Old English faces, form a subgroup of Textura (see Dan Reynolds’ Blackletter Classification), a genre of static appearance, dominated by straight verticals.
By contrast, the ‘s’ in TidningsHuset looks like it is derived from a Fraktur or Schwabacher — a genre that follows a different construction principle, with curved strokes and a dynamic, more cursive appearance. Shown below is a comparison of some key letterforms in Fette Gotisch (left, URW’s digitization) and Rudolf Koch’s Deutsche Schrift fett (right, Alter Littera’s digitization). Both are Blackletter faces, and yet they are worlds apart.
Here’s an attempt at illustrating the issue in the TidningsHuset logo, translated to Roman letterforms, using František Štorm’s Trivia superfamily. This is Trivia Serif, with the ‘s’ injected from Trivia Humanist:
The designers did a pretty good job at getting the weight right. Still, the basic style doesn’t match, and so the glyph has to stand out. Although numerically of the same height as its surrounding letters, it appears too tall, and also too high. Lacking the straight sides of a proper Gotisch ‘s’, it inevitably messes up the spacing.
The correct approach to solving this issue is embarrasingly trivial. A look into the glyph palette would have been enough. Virtually all Blackletter fonts come with a round ‘s’, and so does URW’s Fette Gotisch, too. The current OpenType version provides the glyph via the “Historical Forms” feature (hist). In older versions, the round ‘s’ is hidden in the Number Sign slot (#).
Wow, what a well-written response! Now I cannot unsee it.
Danke, Florian! That ‘s’ did stick out like a slightly sore thumb to me, so I appreciate the detailed explanation.
Even with that blemish, I really enjoy this work overall. The look must leave a lasting impression when you visit the place.