A friend once jokingly told me that what I really do is mine extinct arts for parts to use in modern things, like going to the scrapyard to pick up bumpers, quarter-panels and dashboards off of Datsuns and Ponys to build a shiny new Ferrari. I still kind of grin at that, but I certainly do spend a lot of time looking at old things and imagining ways they would work today.
This shiny new Ferrari here is called Bibliophile, and it contains scrap heap parts from various pages by Louis Prang, the Prussian-American printer and publisher who inspired my Prangs fonts. This is my second engagement with the late 19th century man, and it’s quite a bit more intricate than just an italic Didone with a connected lowercase. Bibliophile marries Round Hand calligraphy with Italian capitals, two styles not often relayed in the same alphabet, but work together beautifully when combined well. When you combine them well with a few long-practised tricks of the trade, then mix in a few trusted features from my previous work over the years, you get my usual crazy exuberance, like 17 different shapes for the d, 21 different forms for the y, endings, beginnings, swashes, ornaments, and so on. It’s no secret that I can get carried away when I’m so consumed by an idea.
Bibliophile also comes with a bold weight, something I’m always reluctant to do with something as adventurous and complex as the structure of this historical mashup. But I couldn’t chase away the idea of increasing the contrast while maintaining the hairlines in a lowercase this narrow. Part of it was the curiosity about the outcome, and part was the sheer challenge of it. I think it turned out OK.
Words set in either weight will show delicateness and elegance, and the more time you spend inside the font and micro-manage the setting, the more ways you will find to magnify either. Bibliophile can as muted or luxurious as you want it to be. This is the kind of alphabet that fits well in fashion marketing and high-end packaging, from the very subdued to the super-exquisite. Enjoy the gleaming new vehicle made with freshly polished old parts.