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The Dawn of Modern Script Typefaces: The 1930s

Script typefaces of the 20th century are often overlooked in the history of Latin typography. Yet, they have lended a hand in visually shaping the popular culture of their time. From social stationary to advertising, they had the ambitious task of turning handwriting and lettering into type. This presented fascinating challenges to designers and foundries, especially within the constraints of metal type. The 1930s marked a turning point in the history of script typefaces, with a large number of new, distinct, and ingenious designs being published across Europe and the U.S. This talk analyzes select aspects of interest behind some of these innovative type designs with key attributes that can support the comparative analysis of different type styles, specifically within the script category. This involves considering the writing tool and level of formality of the inspiring hand. Technical decisions that helped turn such hands into functional metal fonts are touched on, as well as its main commercial applications. Such aspects are presented with the support of visuals from specimens and ephemera displaying a number of key scripts of the 1930s. From the formal thick-and-thin script, “Ariston” by Martin Wilke, to the informal brush script, “Reporter” by Carlos Winkow. This is an original presentation that is part of ongoing research of the script typefaces designed between the 1920s and the1960s for hand and hot-metal composition.


Riccardo De Franceschi

Creative Director Dalton Maag

Riccardo De Franceschi is a typeface designer from Italy. He is now based in London, where he works as creative director at Dalton Maag, a typeface design studio. After graduating from Politecnico di Milano, he obtained a master’s degree from the University of Reading. There, he investigated script typefaces of the 20th century, which he has been researching ever since. Franceschi has also written for two Italian publications—Bibiliologia and Tipoitalia.