Journalism is frustrating, because it has a way of making its errors become part of the public record, and then they take on a life of their own. So pardon my pedantry, but I want to clear up a couple of nerdy type things.
This article from The Daily, written by Katherine Eastland, talks about the murky history of the origins of Times New Roman, which may or may not have been the brainchild of Stanley Morison (the accepted version) or William Starling Burgess (a competing theory that arose in the late 80s). There's ongoing debate about the Morison/Burgess divide, and I'll admit that I tend to side with the more fully documented (both in general, and in agreement with what little I can find within Monotype to support it) notion that Times New Roman was based on Plantin, as art-directed by Morison and drawn by Victor Lardent and various people within the Monotype drawing office. I won't rule out the possibility that Starling Burgess drew up the concept first, but Occam's razor makes me doubt it.
However, there are a few outright factual errors in the article that have already been replicated in a BoingBoing post, and that's annoying.
Most of the trouble is in this paragraph:
"The original story of Times New Roman’s genesis goes like this: Morison wrote a blistering article in 1929 arguing that Times Old Roman, the font of The Times of London, was dated, clunky, badly printed and in need of help — his help. The paper listened and charged Morison with directing the creation of a new suite of letters. He did, and on Oct. 3, 1943, Times New Roman debuted on the bright white broadsheets of the London daily.
It's not The Times of London. It's The Times.
The new typeface — The Times New Roman — debuted on October 3, 1932, not 1943. The design was exclusively available to The Times for one year, and then made available to other customers on October 3, 1933. (Documented in a few places, but the reference I have in front of me is The Monotype Recorder vol. XXXI, no. 247, from September–October 1932. Complicating matters, this was misprinted as being vol. XXI, no. 246.)
This is the big one: the previous face was not known as Times Old Roman. Jeez. Just think about it: why would something be known as "old" whatever before there was a new version? In fact — and this is documented in Printing in the Twentieth Century (published by The Times), The Monotype Recorder, and elsewhere — the various typefaces used before the introduction (The) Times New Roman didn't really have a formal name.
They were a suite of types originally made by Miller and Co. (later Miller & Richards) in Edinburgh around 1813, generally referred to as "modern". When The Times began using Monotype (and other hot-metal machines) in 1908, this design was remade by Monotype for its equipment. As near as I can tell, it looks like Monotype Series no. 1 — Modern (which was based on a Miller & Richards typeface) — was what was used up until 1932.
I've come across "Times Old Roman" before, and I always thought it was just a lazy response to the puzzle of what the "new" was in Times New Roman. (It was simply the new roman for The Times, in fact.) While I was checking my facts to rant about this, though, it dawned on me that Monotype is responsible for the confusion because of this image illustrating the cover of that 1932 issue of The Monotype Recorder:
That's a photograph of two Monotype faces: Times New Roman and Series no. 1, Modern. That's all. It says "The Times Old Roman Type" because it's an illustration of the old roman type used by The Times, which was Modern, an old design that was no longer all that modern:
1) Typofi: Nice one Dan! I regularly have seizures when I encounter something like this done by journalists. Lazy journalism (the usual kind) aside, the more interesting thing here is, imho, how the errors reflect what seems to be a common layman's way of thinking about typography. I mean the underlying assumptions, like "typeface always has a name". Which is kind of true in today's world, as the font file has to have a name. Apparently it's too much to ask that people would stop for a second and consider whether things might have been different in the past. (Aug 19, 2011 5:27 PM)
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