Regarding Letters in General.

The hypothesis that there is an ideally correct form for each letter

of the alphabet is just as erroneous as Geofroy Tory’s simple assumption that there is a relation between the shapes of letters and the human body, erroneous, because the shapes of letters have been in constant process of modification from their very beginnings.

Indeed, the shapes of the letters in daily use are due entirely to a convention, so that in preferring one form rather than another, our only consideration need be for the conventions now existing and the degree in which each satisfies our sense of beauty. It should be kept clearly in mind that the perfect model of a letter is altogether imaginary and arbitrary. There is a definite model for the human form. The painter, the sculptor, the architect have their models in nature. But the man who sets himself to make an alphabet has no copy but that left him by former artists on all matters which pertain to the fashion of his letter - he has no absolute standard. Semi’scientific discussions regarding the proportions of letters began as early as 1509, first by Pacioli, then by Durer 1525, Tory 1529, Yciar 1548, and Moxon 1676, down to the present, & all with little practical or valuable results. None of the drawings or writings of these masters contain any practical hints or suggestions for use in designing new forms of letters. Rules or substitutes for the artist’s hand must necessarily be inadequate, yet when set down by such men as Durer, Tory, Serlio and others, probably do establish and fix canons of proportion or construction that may constitute a firm basis upon which to found new expressions. Moxon said of letters that they were originally invented and contrived to be made and consist of circles, arches of circles, and straight lines, therefore those letters that have these figures entire, or else properly mixt, so as the progress of the pen may best admit, may deserve the name of true shape. But these self-same curves, arcs of circles, straight lines, make up also letterforms we do not always consider ’true shape, nor is it possible to entertain the opinion that all letters, although actually composed of these very elements, will necessarily submit to analysis or be reducible to set rules of formation that will make easier the creation of new forms. Such an analysis can, at best, only fix and permit the reproduction of the same form at another time, and even then the quality of life and freedom in the original will largely be lost in the reproduction. The mere blending together of geometrical elements common to all letterforms, good or bad, is not sufficient, ’true shape’ is something more subtle than geometry. Goudy.

In 2014, when art director Yorgo Tloupas was tapped to design a glossy biannual magazine called The Book for luxury fashion house Louis Vuitton, he turned to his friends at Production Type to develop a new face for it: a multipurpose condensed sans serif.

Tloupas rifled through the Louis Vuitton archives, pulling out vintage ads that incorporated the kind of sans he was after. Production plumbed its own trove of specimen books from unsung French foundries like Berthier & Durey, Turlot, and Warnery, among others, to push the concept further. The result, Antique Gothic, is a straightforward condensed sans featuring relatively open terminals, compact extenders, straight sides, and spacious counters — with a few details borrowed from belle-époque jobbing types to make it stand out. 

The pointy spur of the ‘G’ and serif of the numeral ‘1’ reemerge in the ‘Q’s tail; the scooped flag of the ‘5’ and notched stem of the ‘t’ allude to Antique’s distant origins in the modern serif; the chiseled ‘t’ stem affords height without adding heaviness. Antique Gothic is lean and self-contained enough to play well with others in tight editorial settings, but its distinctive traits lend it equally well to solo performances. Think branding, packaging, protest signs.

Branching out from its original mission, the new offering has evolved and become more versatile, ripe for wider circulation. Antique Gothic has three light weights (ExtraLight, SemiLight, and Light), a Regular weight, and a Medium weight. The Extended Latin character set offers comprehensive language support. Three different uppercase heights enable playful and sophisticated compositions.

Original art direction with Yorgo Tloupas. Design: Jean-Baptiste Levée. Team: Emmanuel Besse, Quentin Schmerber, Hugues Gentile, Pauline Fourest, Kristina Jandova.

Antique Gothic specimen

Character set