Type Anatomy: Tavia Hall

I’ve generally been fascinated with calligraphy. I could watch people write in that style throughout the day and be totally satisfied with how the ink moves through the pen onto the paper. I simply like how free shaped the lines and curves are made and it just makes each letter essentially extraordinary. Ellen Lupton’s illustration “Thinking With Type” encouraged my insight and comprehension of various typefaces. Lupton notices a basic framework for the different typefaces that were considered amid the nineteenth century. There are three main groups (humanist, transitional and modern) that make up this system. Each one of these groups are of course the general idea of the many typefaces. Lupton states “Humanist letterforms are closely connected to calligraphy and the movement of the hand” (46). After looking at the many examples provided in the Manuscripts, Archives and Special Collections (MASC), I was able to analyze different typefaces and determine which typeface belonged to which group.

Letter from Mary Martin Rebow

Letter from Mary Martin Rebow to her fiancé Isaac Rebow in 1771. Provided by Manuscripts, Archives and Special Collections department at Washington State University.

Above is a letter that Mary Martin Rebow wrote to her fiancé in 1771. I found this piece quite interesting because of the originality it had. I feel like the typeface of this letter would be a mix of calligraphy/cursive (humanistic). If you look closely you can see that if she made a mistake she would put an “X” through the whole word. Also, if she needed to add a word that she missed then as a reader you’re able to see where; because that word was added. Also with the ending letters “D” & “Y” you can see that she does a little loop, but every loop isn’t exactly the same. Those loops are extending above the cap height; the separation from the baseline to the highest point of the capital letter which decides the letter’s point of measure (37). Also, the baseline stays pretty consistent throughout the letter. I wouldn’t be surprised if she didn’t use a straight edge based off the formation of each word. Then there’s also the letters “F”, “Y”, “G” and “P” (for examples) that reach the descenders height; passed the baseline. This type of typeface is on the more organic side because there’s a lot of freedom to be “extra” and make loop after loop, curve after curve and still have a letter that is easy to read. I really like this type face because it gives you the ability to create your own style, and put your own twist on each and every letter.

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