A 1931 type drawing by Enid Banyard shows the painstaking detail involved in type design.

The drawings are part of an exhibition coming to New York that documents the century (plus) work of the Monotype Corporation.

Monotype was founded in 1887, when typesetting was still an incredibly labor-intensive process.

The show will include artifacts from nearly a hundred years of type designing, ranging from original hand drawings of molten metal faces to their first bitmap designs.

Cleverly, the exhibition design divides everything into two sections: the pencil on one side, and the pixel on the other.

Pastonchi, a font designed by Eduardo Cotti and Francesco Pastonchi in 1927.

There will also be relics of the days of hot-metal type, like this matrix used before the era of the typewriter.

A Monotype Newsletter from the post-War years.

Monotype is responsible for Gill Sans, shown here.

Co.Design

Coming Soon: A Monotype Exhibit Tracing The Roots Of Modern Typography

Monotype, one of the oldest type foundries in the world, will exhibit artifacts from the dawn of modern type this spring.

It’s rare to find a single type foundry that’s survived the introduction of the printing press, the linotype, the typewriter, and the computer, not to mention the smartphone. Monotype Corporation, founded back in 1887 when typesetting actually involved setting type, is one of the few. Today, most of us know Monotoype as the company behind some of the most important 20th-century fonts, like Gill Sans.

The story of how Monotype went from setting hot metal slugs in Philadelphia to designing typefaces for smartphones deserves its own museum, and this May, the company is giving it the next best thing: a sweeping exhibit called Pencil to Pixel. The show will include artifacts from more than a hundred years of designing type, ranging from original hand drawings of molten metal faces to their first bitmap designs. Cleverly, the exhibition design divides everything into two sections: the pencil on one side, and the pixel on the other.

The show will be "a chance for visitors to explore the very physical history of the typefaces they already know," says Monotype’s Type Director Dan Rhatigan. "That story of the relationship of technology to analog typography connects in an unbroken chain of development to the way Monotype creates typefaces and the means of using them today, 125 years after they started." The exhibition debuted in London to huge crowds last year, and the company expects a similar turnout when it opens at Tribeca Skyline Studio on May 3.

Pencil to Pixel will be free but will require a reservation—which is why we’re writing about it now. You can reserve a slot here.

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2 Comments

  • Printercarver

    The Monotype machine casts sorts, not slugs, which are instead the product of the Linotype. Just saying. Sounds good.