Hyperbolic? Not when you realize the incredible impact these font families have had on the history of graphic design.
Can a typeface change the world? According to this sponsored post in Country Life, they have, beginning more than 2,000 years ago.
“The anonymous serif lettering carved into the base of Trajan’s column in Rome, with its contrasting thick and thin strokes and incised serifs, became the typographic ideal for western civilisation and the most influential template for ‘roman’ serif letter design of the pre-type era,” the article notes. “The search for 26 lower-case letters to accompany Trajan’s capitals took another 1,500 years.”
Gutenberg riffed on the Trajan form in 1440 and created what’s now known as Gothic or Old English. And it’s had amazing staying power. “William Caxton brought the idea to Britain 30 years later and it still graces the mastheads of the Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and New York Times,” the article continues.
As printing became more widespread, space became an issue. Italic was created by Aldus Manutius (the same man who invented the semi-colon) as a way to mimic Italian handwriting and save space.
Fonts continued to have momentous impact on our culture even into the 1800s (as Typewriter font was developed in 1868) and 1900s.
“In the late 1950s, Jock Kinnear and Margaret Calvert were commissioned to design signs for the first British motorways, and later the entire British road system,” the article notes. “They established that words in upper and lower case, because they have shape, are much more recognisable than CAPITALS, which do not, meaning that Britain now has the clearest, most legible road signs in the world.”
Can a font change the world? Clearly, it has. We wonder what, 200 years from now, will stand out as the game-changing typeface of the 21st century.