The Other Times Modern
From the “Where are they now?” files, an undocumented paperback version of the classic newspaper typeface.
Contributed by Stephen Coles on Mar 11th, 2013. Artwork published in
28 Comments on “The Other Times Modern”
For the Acne Jeans logo, there’s a very good chance that the A wasn’t modified for that one logo, but was simply an alternate form that was offered with the font. This definitely wouldn’t have been out of the ordinary for a face with its origins in phototype.
Photo-Lettering had a face similar to this called Bartuska Modern Times as far back as 1964, probably earlier. VGC lists two similar faces called Times Bold Modified No. 1 and No. 2 in their 1973 catalog. Headliners also had one called (what else?) neo-Times Roman that had bold weights that were similar. (The version with flat serifs they called neo-Times English.) Alphabet Innovations had one called Times Text in 1972. There were probably others, and I suspect it was a phototype display thing mostly.
One thing they all have in common is the idea of “fixing” the inconsistent handling of details between Times Roman (or Times New Roman) and Times Bold. None of the interpretations were exactly the same, but they were all the same idea. EF Times Modern seems to be the only digital example.
Thanks for the comment, Mark. You certainly identify what ties these type designs together. It looks like they were an attempt to add weight to the regular style of Times without changing the details (such as the angled stem serifs). I mentioned Times Bold Modified in the piece, and I’ll add that scan below just so it’s here on the same page of the post.
Times Modern Black has some odd design details. Some of the lowercase letters—the “d” and “n” for example—have very narrow counters, but others, like the “o”, have very open counters.
VGC’s Times Bold Modified, in addition to the smattering of oddball swash characters, has figures that look like they are from a different typeface.
Just found out that I had another Scangraphic catalogue from 1992. It has Times Modern in it. The font number is 38809, the first digits 388 indicate the familiy and 09 the weight. 388 tells me that it was one of the last typefaces produced during the time I was at Scangraphic. Also, it is marked with an S, not with B which indicates that it was availble as Supertype (type sizes up to 90 mm cap height) and not as a Bodytype (up to 36 pt). For me, this indicates the following: Artwork digitized at URW with Ikarus, who may have had E&F do the work, conversion to Supertype Format by URW for Scangraphic, corrections at URW, specified by Scangraphic, widths and kerning by Scangraphic. From what was usual those days I now reconstruct the following: Between 1987 and 1991, many typesetting houses (such as TypoTausend, TypoBach, EInsatz, City-Satz, GST-Group, Context-Group, eventually also some of the TypeShops switched from Berthold to Scangraphic, because Berthold failed to successfully lauch their long promised CRT/Laser system, whilst Scangraphic had both systems running … Which meant that they would only order a Scangraphic system when we would be able to supply some of the typefaces they made their money with. In such cases, ‘artwork’ (basically a typeset alphabet) was delivered to us and then digitized as soon as possible. So this is what happened with Times Modern. It probably started its life in a catalogue showing various condensed versions of Riccone (maybe indicated as ‘Times Modern’ to lure the art-director’s eyes onto it). You probably know this from the old Photolettering catalogues. Then it got picked by Willy Fleckhaus, who eventually ordered some modifications to fit it with his ideas for the typography on the Suhrkamp book titles. The typesetting studio probably had an 2,5 Inch filmstrip font made according to that specification in order to ensure continous production quality. When the Scangraphic system was ordered, the Riccone Condensed alphabet was typeset, indicated as Times Modern and given to Scangraphic. Being a part of the Scangraphic library then, it later survived in the E&F library.
BTW. I think that Fleckhaus did not really contribute to the ‘design’ of Times Modern. In Germany it is quite common that art-directors state that they ‘create typography’ and do not distinguish between typography, logotypes or typefaces. So when someone tells that Fleckhaus ‘created the Suhrkamp typography’ someone else may easily understand from that that he designed the typeface. Sometimes this is on purpose (when talking to clients), sometimes this is accidental, like students that keep talking about kerning when they mean spacing. No matter how often you explain it. They use it because they think it is cool to do so :–)
So what you are suggesting, Albert, is that there must have been a Riccione available at one of the phototype manufacturers that Fleckhaus saw and for which he ordered a condensed version (or which was offered as that), sometime before 1970. Perhaps the change of name took place before that and Riccione was already offered under the name “Times Modern”. To trace the roots we can probably more or less disregard the digital era, unless Brendel or Scangraphic remembered from what phototype firm the model came from.
There was a Times Modern available at Berthold, shown in their Headlines E3 on p. 129, but it looks totally different. I also can’t find any similar face in their Staromat catalogs. What company could have provided the fonts or type setting for Twen in 1970? (At that time Twen was owned by Gruner & Jahr Hamburg, Fleckhaus himself lived somewhere in the Rheinland area.)
I tend to doubt this typeface/adaption was proprietary, so at some point someone probably offered it in one of their catalogs. Who has some more phototype specimens from the late 1960s?
The info about Brendel to be found on the net, e.g. at MyFonts suggest that he was active in the phototype typesetting business well before 1972, when he started Ikarus with Karow.
Okay, maybe lighter/darker was not possible, but I still imagine it pretty easy to make modifications as in our case in phototype and produce a custom film strip or disk.
One of those weird documents by Stiehl you never really want to click accuses Brendel of having ripped off Times New Roman under the name Riccione. I also found a listing in Reichardt’s data, so I think it’s safe to assume that at least Riccione originates at Brendel, just no idea when and whether it’s really the direct predecessor to Times Modern. Checking Letterphot is a good idea, alas I have no material about them.
The story of ‘a little lighter or darker’ on MyFonts remains vague on what really happened I think. ‘A little lighter or darker’ is probably what Brendels customers asked for around 1970, and it must have been questions like this (next to wider, narrower, tighter, brighter, rounder, shaded, you name it) why, presumably after having started and running several Type Shops with opto-mechanical phototypesetting equipment for some time, Walter Brendel started to think of approaching the problems of typesetting and type design with the help of a programmer. Together with Peter Karow he developed the idea of storing typefaces in an outline format that would be digitizable from artwork, editable, scalable and modifiable, which finally resulted in the invention of the Ikarus Format (the other digital formats from those days simply failed one or more of these points). They envisioned that through digitizing and interpolation it would become easily possible to offer a large range of weights for a typeface family. The Type Shop families, who are now available on MyFonts still show convincingly that Walter Brendel had managed to realize such families. Most of them have 7 weights. Not all of them are what we would call ‘state of the art’ from a designers point of view, but compared with Linotype traditionally having 2 and ITC having 4 weights as a standard range, this was quite a remarkable achievement those days. It was only in the late 1980ties that Stempel started to redesign their families like Schneidler Mediäval and Janson Text and create ranges with 5 weights. Also Berthold usually stuck with 4 weights in those days.
I now realize this is getting a longer story which is a bit off-topic here, but I hope that it is still interesting and may eventually lead to answering the questions about who actually designed Times Modern / Riccione and how the first years of the Type Shops and their typeface library have looked like.
Back to subject: Fleckhaus seems to have started the Suhrkamp design range in 1971. My question is now: Did he use Times Modern / Riccione from the very beginning, do we have Suhrkamp covers which actually document this usage? It could be of help to more accurately indicate the Date of Birth of this so intruiguing typeface.
Fleckhaus used the typeface as early as July 1970 in Twen magazine (first use I found but I did not look very intensively).
Look what I found! This Modern Times Black is from the “Letter-Fan”, a type specimen by Lettergraphics International, Photo Process Lettering Service, ©1969. My copy was distributed by Typographica GmbH [sic], Gesellschaft für Typographie und Reproduktion – Typo-Service · Photosatz · Akzidenzsatz in Kornwestheim, Germany. Price: 25.— DM
I think it is very likely that something like this was the source for Fleckhaus.
Here’s a sample of the neo-Times Roman that was mentioned before by Mark. I found it in the 1978 Headliners catalog:
While we’re at it: I also stumbled upon yet another Times Modern. This namesake has nothing to do with the Times Modern in question. It is actually some version of Trooper Roman:
Which font in the Times series has an ‘M’ with a wider base?
Can you clarify what you mean by “base”?
Hello. Does anyone know where is it still possible to get the file of this font (Times Modern). I am in a quest for days now and I still haven’t found anything…Many thanks if you can help!
Have you tried asking Elsner+Flake? Since the reason for taking the font down was due to a complaint related to the name, there is the possibility that it can be licensed under a different name.
Hello Florian. I’m gonna do this right now! I drop a line here as soon as I get the answer.
Hi Sebastien, I’m really curious to know if you got an answer from Elsner+Flake? ’Cause I think Times Modern is genius work and I’ve been looking for it everywhere — really everywhere! But i just can’t find it. So please let me know.
I’ve just stumbled across this blog post. Most interesting. I’ve dug out something I wrote on comp.fonts way back in 2002 about The Times newspaper’s move from Gunnlaugur Briem’s Times Millennium to Times Classic.
It’s a real shame that Briem’s Times Millennium isn’t available, as it was a work of art in itself.
Thanks for that, Richard. You can see Times Millennium on Briem’s site where he renamed it BriemTimes.
Hi, did enyone ever find this type to buy? If so where?
I’ll try to contact Elsner+Flake now and let you know if thay answer.
So… They took it down because of name similiarity? Did they redistribute the font under an alternative name? Is there anyway to purchase the font as a digital version?
Hi Sebastian, unfortunately neither Sebastien nor Aleksi (see above) reported back what Elsner+Flake told them. Here’s their contact info.
Superior Title looks like the Acne logo: vllg.com/mckl/superior-title (via Peter)
Superior Title is indeed a related typeface. There are some differences, though, most notably in the s. Also, Superior Title was released only in 2013. Shown below is a comparison of the Acne Jeans logo (top, as posted on Typophile in 2006) and Superior Title Bold (bottom).
In a recent online talk at Poster House (https://www.paulshawletterdesign.com/2021/11/lettering-and-type-at-push-pin-a-preliminary-investigation/), Paul Shaw showed the poster below. Illustrated by Paul Davis, it advertised the February 1968 issue of the Evergreen Review and featured Times Modern as the headline face. This is the earliest use I’ve ever seen.
Thank you very much for sharing, Stéphane! Paul Shaw notes that “no one has yet nailed down the origins of the typeface”. While it is true that we haven’t been able to put the name of a designer to this Times variant, we have established that it was shown in a Lettergraphics catalog from 1968, as Times Modern Black. Shown above is the page from their 1969 Letter-Fan, where its name is given as Modern Times Black. Lettergraphics Photo Process Lettering Service was founded in the 1960s by W. Paul Bailey in Culver City, California.