The current exhibition at New Synagogue Berlin — Centrum Judaicum Foundation celebrates the 150th anniversary of the consecration of Berlin’s New Synagogue on Oranienburger Straße. It is titled “Mittenmang & Tolerant” (Amidst & Tolerant).
The posters and flyers feature some playful patterned variations on the Magen David and, typographically, a peculiar mix of the distinguished Arnhem with the flawed and limited freebie Axis, complemented by Fira Sans.
What caught my eye, though, was the misguided attempt at adding a fancy ampersand. I first assumed, well, the designer might have stumbled upon this “alternate ampersand” in the Glyphs palette and inserted it without further thought — after all, this character can take on a lot of funny forms, including such that are composed of a cursive ‘E’ and ‘t’. However, Arnhem doesn’t have a ‘ct’ ligature. So the ligature must have been taken from another font, or built ad hoc, which makes this even weirder.
The takeaway is that the general audience is probably much more tolerant when it comes to the shape of characters (or diacritics like ogoneks or umlauts, for that matter) than we often like to believe. Context is king.
That is very odd.
Incidentally, the oddest ‘ct’ ligature I’ve seen (out of a small sample, admittedly!) is in Monotype Baskerville Bold Italic, the version that comes with Macs. However they extrapolated a bold (not very nicely, I think – it’s far too bold and far too wide), the ‘ct’ ligature comes out only slightly wider than the regular style – too tightly spaced. And totally unlike how the bold ‘c’ on its own looks, much more compressed. I guess the right thing to do with ligatures in ultra weights, if you must, is to extrapolate the glyphs and only then form it up into a normal-looking ligature, rather than try to add weight to a pre-formed ligature glyph.
Monotype Baskerville as bundled with Mac OS X (I’m looking at v10 from 2014) is a deplorable piece of font crap, and embarrassing both for Monotype and Apple. The ‘ct’ ligatures in the bold weights are the least of its problems. It is riddled with weight inconsistencies, unremoved overlaps, unshapely and incorrectly positioned diacritics, and also suffers from poor outlines, alignment issues, omitted kerning pairs and OpenType features.
Each of the fonts has almost 1,800 glyphs, but a big chunk of them are unusable. Apparently the only requirement was to fill a lot of Unicode blocks— there’s Latin-Extended B, IPA Extensions, Deseret and whatnot. Quality control, however, was not a concern on either side.
For a digital Baskerville, you better go with Storm’s impressive interpretation.
On second look, I’m pretty confident that the ‘ct’ ligature AKA ampersect was taken from Mrs Eaves.
Contributed by Studio Het Mes
Contributed by Stephen Coles
Contributed by Stephen Coles