Found Font Friday

Doves type letter "e"

With regard to the surreptitious disposal and triumphant recovery of the Doves Type from London’s Thames River (from an article in typespec magazine): The Doves Type® revival . Not to be confused with my post Font Friday 2, about fonts created from lettering and signs found in the great outdoors.

Raised from the dead: The Doves Type story. 

The Doves Type legend is one of the most enduring in typographic history and probably the most infamous. It’s the story of a typeface and a bitter feud between the two partners of Hammersmith’s celebrated Doves Press, Thomas James Cobden-Sanderson and Emery Walker, leading to the protracted disposal of their unique metal type into London’s River Thames. Starting in 1913 with the initial dumping of the punches and matrices, by the end of January 1917 an increasingly frail Cobden-Sanderson had made hundreds of clandestine trips under cover of darkness to Hammersmith Bridge and systematically thrown 12lb parcels of metal type into the murky depths below. As one person so aptly commented on Twitter recently, this notorious tale bears all the hallmarks of a story by Edgar Allan Poe.

One century later and a new chapter has been added with the release of Robert Green’s digital facsimile of the Doves Type, available to buy and download from Typespec. For those who are still unfamiliar with the historical background and the designer’s arduous journey to salvage this beautiful typeface from its watery grave I would urge you to check out the following short BBC News film by Tom Beal, made after the recovery in 2014 of some of the original type from the Thames:



Doves Type: 'Achilles Over the Trench: Iliad xviii'


The original Doves Type was crafted by master punchcutter Edward Prince, based on drawings produced by Percy Tiffin of Nicolas Jenson’s pioneering 15th-century Venetian type. William Morris, founder of the Kelmscott Press, had actually developed his own ‘Golden’ type some years before The Doves Press came into being but Doves is held by experts as being more faithful to the original Venetian letterforms.

The Doves Type was commissioned in 1899 and created solely by Prince in 16 pt; it was used in all of the press’s publications including their iconic edition of the King James Bible. Each Doves Press book was beautifully bound and, notes Green, noticeably “stripped of decorative borders and illustration, the elegantly clear & legible type acting alone as visual siren-song.”


Doves Type figures printed in 1914

Passage of text by Tennyson typeset in Doves Press font


By 1908, despite successful Milton prints & the aforementioned Bible, the Press was in dire financial difficulty. Subscribers began melting away after Walker had effectively left in 1906 as the bitter & acrimonious dispute took hold between the partners. On finally dissolving their partnership in 1909, Cobden-Sanderson began attempts to wriggle out of an earlier promise that, should the partnership cease, Walker would receive a fount of type ‘for his own use’. Walker retaliated, issuing a writ insisting that the Press shut down completely and he receive 50% of remaining assets. In 1909, the Press’s only valuable asset was the type.

A compromise was reached, brokered by their exasperated friend Sir Sydney Cockerell, which allowed Cobden-Sanderson uncontrolled use of the type for as long as he lived, at which time it would pass to Emery Walker, if he did not die first.

The thought of ‘his’ typeface being used by anyone else, and in a manner beyond his control, prompted Cobden-Sanderson’s now infamous course of action. Only the Doves Press, run exclusively by him, could be bestowed the honour of printing his type. And so the mission to destroy it, beginning with the punches and matrices on Good Friday 1913, began. On an almost nightly basis from August 1916 the ailing septuagenarian dumped the type into the Thames, wrapped in paper parcels and tied with string; “bequeathed to the river” as he put it in his personal diary. Every piece of this beautiful typeface, more than a ton of metal, was destroyed in a prolonged ritual sacrifice.


Original Doves Press Bible setting


Green’s quest to re-produce the Doves Type in digital form has been a true labour of love, a project he came close to shelving on several occasions due to the paucity of (affordable) source texts and occasional blind alleys he was inadvertently taken down. Much agonising took place over the general approach to the project, deciphering the complex geometries, then individual letterform dilemmas due to ink spread inconsistencies and anomalies in the punches and matrices. The end result isn’t so much a revival as a ‘digital facsimile’ of the original typeface, but most importantly he’s succeeded in doing justice to it.

The first release (2013) in OpenType format was an Imprint weight, complete with ligatures and detailing from the metal predecessor; Green wanted to be as true to the original as possible but there are concessions to modern day requirements in the form of Dollar & Euro currency symbols plus extended latin diacritics which didn’t feature first time around.



Doves Type® Regular, refined after recovery of the original metal type from the Thames, replaces the initial 2013 release, improved in 2016 for contemporary usage. This latest release of the updated Doves Type® contains extended glyph coverage including small caps, together with both lining and tabular figures. Tracking and kerning have also been adjusted for 21st century usage. The original Doves Press type, cut for letterpress with its physical constraints and inherent quirks, contains spacing which would appear uncomfortable to modern eyes in web-based and litho applications.

Go to the font download page for more details and to buy the font(s).

Doves Type® PDF specimenDownload a free Doves Type® PDF specimen (1.5MB).


Click on a thumbnail below to browse a gallery of larger Doves Type images.


Fans Font Friday – Art Deco

Here are some beautiful hand fans from the Art Deco era.

Vintage Advertising Hand Fan – 666 Brand Salve

A common use of imagery on hand fans seems to have been informational rather than just decoration. This one is for “666” brand remedy for everything from malaria to neuralgia. The stylized illustration of Diana is in the traditional depiction of the ancient world of gods and goddesses. The handle of the front of the fan uses a classically Art Deco all-caps font, with its low crossbars on the “E,” stylized “S,” and geometrically circular “O” and “Q.”

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Fonting While Female Font Friday

Golly gosh, folks, this Sunday, March 8 is International Women’s Day! Isn’t it neat that they let us ladies have a whole day to ourselves? And a whole month to ourselves too? One out of twelve is just nifty! In any case, I thought I’d celebrate the day’s novel status with some typography for this, my cute li’l typography blog, and look for women-oriented fonts.

Skip to here for the #resistance.

Here’s the very first thing I got when I googled “female” and “font” on March 8 last year:

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Foam Slime Font Friday – Late Valentine’s Day Edition

Yes, today is oops, six days ago was Valentine’s Day, the American holiday compelling those with partners to give expensive pink and red gifts to their sweetheart(s). Also in the offing: chocolates, flowers, lavish diamond jewelry, marriage proposals. Obligatory! Compulsory! And of course if one does not have a partner(s), one is a failure as a human being, a disappointment, a loser. Hang your head in shame!

Here’s something fun to do that might take your mind off the madness:

Valentine’s Day Foam Slime Recipe

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Looove cards for my husband – Feb. 2, 2017

Yes, I know, it’s disgusting, the sappy. But he’s great, and I’m a designer, so it was inevitable.

Below is a selection of the holiday, Valentine’s Day, anniversary and other cards and gifts I’ve given him over the years.

Red handmade paper wrapper, 5.5″ x 5.5″, containing folded origami paper—silver- and gold-speckled cream outside, red inside—which opens to reveal white card with demon skeleton cat with red heart in thought bubble. Tiny text reads, “meow! happy valentine’s day 2020 to richard from nicola.”

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(Oscar) Film Font Friday

The Oscars are on Sunday, February 9! Here’s a great breakdown of the design of posters of some leading films. See also Film Fonts Friday 1; (Bond) Film Font Friday; Film Font Friday, Wes Anderson Edition; and Font Film Font Friday.

Read the text below, or click the link for the full interactive experience.

Washington Post article about posters for some 2020 Oscar-nominated films.

With streaming services like Netflix and Amazon overpowering the box office, movie posters have had to adapt, with an emphasis on scalable design. Film studios are now tasked with the challenge of making sure that the actors are recognizable, that the type is readable and that, foremost, you’ll want to press play after a quick scan.

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Flying Font Friday 2

From My Modern

Also see my post Flying Font  Friday 1, about airport signage.

Alphabet on Butterfly Wings

Norwegian nature photographer Kjell Bloch Sandved has devoted his photographic career to capturing the beauty of the world we live in and along the way, amassed a collection of butterfly and moth images with interesting patterns on their wings. Sanved’s keen eye took notice of the spectacular shapes the natural designs came in, recognizing their resemblance to letters of the alphabet. As a result, he formed the Butterfly Alphabet.

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1482 Font Friday

Mnemonic Alphabet of Jacobus Publicius (1482)

Jacobus Publicius was a fifteenth-century rhetorician and physician who is remembered today for being the author of the first ars memoriae (or ars memorativa), a work dedicated to techniques concerning the organisation and improving of memory. Publicius’ ideas were gathered in a book called Ars Oratoria. Ars Epistolandi. Ars Memorativa published in 1482, which included this wonderful illustrated alphabet featured here. Each letter of the alphabet is paired with an object (in some case more than one) which echoes its shape. A is associated with a folding ladder, B with a lute, C with a horseshoe, and so on. Publicius’ book proved very popular and influenced many subsequent scholars concerned with memory, including the English polymath Robert Fludd, who came up with his own mnemonic alphabet. We are featuring the original 1482 edition here (see source link below), but you can also see a copy of the slightly expanded second edition (with additional imagery) at the Wolfenbütteler Digitale Bibliothek. For some further reading on the subject we recommend The Book of Memory (2008) by Mary Carruthers.

Fear Font Friday 2 (OK, OK, it’s Thursday)

For Halloween, what’s skarier than a skeleton? What about the kind of person who makes a skeleton out of designer-y type? Def skarier.

Not to be confused with my post Fear Font Friday 1.

Skeleton Typogram, A Human Skeleton Illustration Made Using The Words For Each Bone

“Skeleton Typogram” by designer Aaron Kuehn is a gorgeous typographic artwork which depicts the human skeleton using the actual words for each bone. Previously we wrote about Kuehn’s Bicycle Typogram. The “Skeleton Typogram” is available as a limited edition screenprint.

Exo… Endo… Typo! Your life, your organism, your soft tissues but a puddle on the ground, if not for the ancient segmental structure of the Vertebrates. The original hard core is evolving for 400 million years now. Hominids, like you, are using the latest upright technology originating only 4 million years prior. Here it is, updated, and reconstructed in a 2 dimensional static representation of long-stride locomotion for your screen or paper! The component bones, ordinarily constructed with rigid mineralized tissues, have been entirely typo-grammatically replaced with 676 free and fused glyphs, together forming a complete skeletal diagram in Latin.

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