Don’t Call It a Comeback … It’s Called a Revival

Don’t Call It a Comeback … It’s Called a Revival

Paul Shaw is back with his latest book “Revival Type” uncovering the typographic ancestors that live on in the digital types of today.

We all come from somewhere. We all come from a mother and father and are extensions of generations of interesting people and places. With a little digging, we can track our heritage back through a few of these generations to find the original source of our quirks, our strengths, and our looks.

Paul Shaw’s latest book does this for fonts. 

“Revival Type” due out in April, is a compilation of the stories behind some of the world best revival types and makes the connections to their historical counterparts come alive. The book clocks in at 256 pages, with over 200 full-color images and features a foreward written by Johnathan Hoefler. 

Perhaps the book’s publisher Yale University Press puts it best (if a bit long-winded): “Many typefaces from the pre-digital past have been reinvented for use on computers and mobile devices, while other new font designs are revivals of letterforms, drawn from inscriptions, calligraphic manuals, posters, and book jackets. ‘Revival Type’ deftly introduces these fonts, many of which are widely used, and engagingly tells their stories.”

For the typographic newcomer, this book will illuminate the unfamiliar hidden stories of the familiar fonts we use today. For the type nerd, “Revival Type” is an indispensable reference and intricate exposé on the detailed history of these typefaces.

It will be like flipping open the pages of dusty family photo albums to see the ancestors we might recognize, but have never met. 

Yale University Press gives us a better idea of what to expect from “Revival Type:” “Examples include translations of letterforms not previously used as type, direct revivals of metal and wood typefaces, and looser interpretations of older fonts.”

With details of iconic types such as Baskerville, Didot, Bodoni, Caslon, Garamond, and Jensen, to the lineages of more modern digital types such as Palatino, Meridien, DIN, Metro, and Neue Haas Grotesk, “Revival Type” does not leave many historical stones unturned. 

Many typefaces from the pre-digital past have been reinvented for use on computers and mobile devices … “Revival Type” deftly introduces these fonts, many of which are widely used, and engagingly tells their stories.
Revival-Type-Spreads-1.jpg

Paul Shaw is known for his thorough research and academic approach to typography. “Revival Type” is only his most recent book in a long line of titles like Helvetica and the New York City Subway System (2009) or The Eternal Letter (2014). 

He’s currently making a few appearances where you can catch him talking about “Revival Type” and signing copies of the book. He is slated to speak at The Arts and Letters Club in Toronto on Wednesday, March 29th from 6:00–9:00 pm, and at a discussion panel on historical type revivals with Tracy Ma and Sara Soskolne, hosted by the New York Public Library on Wednesday, April 12th from 6:30–8:30 pm. 

Revival-Type-Spreads-1.jpg

If you have ever been curious about how a typeface has gotten to where it is today, or about the ancestors that live on in the digital types we use and create for the world of tomorrow, “Revival Type” is a must-have.


You can buy and pre-order the book through Yale University Press or wherever good books are sold.

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