Back in the day (‘the day’ in this instance being prior to the 1830s), serif and sans serif fonts were not described as such, because sans serif fonts simply did not exist, at least not as true typefaces that included lowercase letters. All this changed with the introduction of grotesque fonts in 1832. Grotesque is a category of typeface generally including all sans serif faces from the 19thcentury (those made after this point are sometimes refered to as “neo-grotesque”).
|Before the creation of Sans Serif typefaces, the only sans serif characters were capitals, like this example created in 1816, inexplicably called 2 Line English Egyptian|
Although there is some difference of opinion about the inception of grotesque fonts, most attribute it to William Thorowgood, who certainly created the name. Thorowgood released his type through the Fann Street Foundry in 1832. The name ‘grotesque’ is derived from the Italian word “grottesco,” which means ‘belonging to the cave,’ and was somehow related to a pun involving the foundry’s nomenclature and its German meanings. But the details of this complicated, and undoubtedly terribly funny at the time, buy provigil online linguistic feat were quickly forgotten, as the new joke became that the name of the face was reflective of the reaction it provoked in other typographers.
Obviously, the style gained popularity after an initial negative reaction. Akzidenz Grotesk was the first grotesque font to gain widespread popularity. Developed in 1896 by the Berthold Type Foundry, this typeface exemplifies the simplicity and straightforwardness found in sans serif fonts designed throughout the following century. However, Akzidenz Grotesk, along with Franklin Gothic (which was featured in a previous Tuesday Typeface entry), are more intricate, and less strictly geometric than their neo-grotesque counterparts, which include Helvetica and Univers.
Grotesque typefaces, though often overlooked, have a unique feel. They drastically changed the type industry and continue to influence and impact type design. So don’t disregard this important category of typeface. Because although they are grotesque, they’re far from gross.
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