Type Anatomy: Cody Li

瀛環志略 by 徐繼畬. A series of documentation about geography in China – printed on double leaves, oriental style, in wooden boards.

One of the texts that stood out to me was the Chinese one, where the characters were ‘stamped’ onto the pages. I say stamped because there are indications that led me to such suggestion. Another indication that led me to that conclusion was that next to certain characters, there would be lines next to certain characters – which lead me to hint that these were the outlines of the stamp themselves. I examined a character, and examined the same character on the same page at a different sentence; in which there were no difference between the two. Other than the fact that maybe one received more ink and is just a bit more prominent than the other – the character’s height were all the same. The characters seem to have all been designed onto some sort of stamp block that had a set height and width, where they fit into a proportional square. When I say proportional square, I mean that the way Chinese characters are written, people imagine a square – in which the character is written out in a proportional manner to evenly fit said square. The stamp itself seems to also follow this logic of the hand writing technique. This text stood out to me because the fact that the entire documentation was done by a stamp of some sort. The English alphabet is composed of 26 letters, whereas the Chinese language has hundreds and hundreds of words. The fact that this was done by stamp is just astounding to know that the person who created the pack of documents had to select from an abundance of choices and line them up properly.


A close up on a page of 瀛環志略 

I wouldn’t necessarily state that the characters have a serif style to it, mainly because it seems that the font is trying to mimic like that of the brush strokes. Traditionally, the characters are written in a certain stroke order and were written by brushes back in the days. The difference in certain thickness and certain aspects from the ‘stamp’ is trying to mimic that of when someone applies more or less pressure to create said thickness.  Everything is upright and has no lowercase or uppercase; everything single character is treated the same.



A page of one of the maps from 瀛環志略.

What’s also interesting, is that on the map portion of the documentation; the fonts appear to be different from the main body. The font on the map seems to be actually be handwritten, because they’re smaller than the original body text – which would make sense because they had to fit the text inside certain regions of the map. They also don’t appear as uniformed as the stamped letters were.

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