Tubetype: A font that changed the city of London In the midst of the First World War began one of the most iconic, enduring and best-loved fonts in the world: Edward Johnston’s type for the London Undergound. Within a few years, Johnston Sans would be visible not only at Elephant & Castle and Golders Green, but at all points where posters were pasted to walls. Edward Johnston’s work adorned every announcement, whether beautiful or grim (“The last northbound train has gone.”)
Johnston was the man who defined London with his type, dominating the capital from the far western reaches of the Metropolitan line in Amersham to easterly Upminster on the District line. (Photo: Luke MacGregor/Reuters)
Just My Type: A short history of the ampersand Much of what one needs to know about the history and beauty of a font may be found in its ampersand. Done well, an “&” is not so much a character as a creature, an animal from the deep. Or it is a character in the other sense of the word, usually a tirelessly entertaining one, perhaps an uncle with too many magic tricks.
Simon Garfield explores the peculiar history of typefaces in his new book, Just My Type: A Book About Fonts, published by Gotham Books. In the second of five exclusives excerpts, Garfield looks at the 15th-century equivalent of Times New Roman:
Johannes Gutenberg didn’t much care about finding a suitable font for each new project, or even changing the course of Western history. What he cared about was making money.
Even if you didn’t know what it was called, you will be familiar with Comic Sans. Comic Sans is type that has gone wrong. It was designed with strictly good intentions by a professional man with a solid philosophical grounding in graphic arts, and it was unleashed upon the world with a kind heart. It was never intended to cause revulsion or loathing, much less end up (as it has) on the side of an ambulance or a gravestone. It was intended to be fun. And, oddly enough, it was never intended to be a typeface at all.