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ABOUT







Jim Rimmer

Jim Rimmer (b. Vancouver, 1934, d. 2010) was one of the great contemporary type designers whose creations had a lot of flair, individuality, and charm. Based in New Westminster (near Vancouver, BC), Jim Rimmer was also an illustrator. Obituary in the Globe and Mail, dated April 27, 2010.

He designed Albertan (Albertan No.977, Albertan No.978 Bold) and Cloister (2000; a roman type family originally done by Morris Fuller Benton) in the Lanston collection. He also designed typefaces like Juliana Oldstyle (1984), Nephi Mediaeval (1986), Kaatskill (1988; a 1929 typeface by Goudy, revived and optimized for Lanston in type one format; the Kaatskill Italic was done by Rimmer based on Goudy's Deepdene), RTF Isabelle (Roman and Italic; 2006. A pair of delicate serif typefaces based on typefaces by Elizabeth Friedlander) and Fellowship (1986).

ATypI link. Jim began work as a letterpress compositor in 1950. He entered the field of graphic design in 1963, working as a designer lettering artist and illustrator, and freelanced in this capacity from 1972 to 1999 in the same capacity. In 1960, he began collecting letterpress printing and typefounding equipment, and operated a private press and foundry (Pie Tree Press&Type Foundry). FontShop link.

His metal typefaces at Pie Tree Press include:

  • Juliana Oldstyle (1981; McGrew says 1984): It represents my first attempt at cutting a metal type. I drew my letters completely freehand, hoping to capture a punchcut look. My artwork was then reduced and made into a dry transfer sheet, which I rubbed onto type-high typemetal blanks. I then cut the letters and electroformed copper matrices.
  • Nephi Mediaeval (1983, for private use; McGrew gives the date 1986): It was inspired by the Subiaco type of the Ashendene Press and by its inspiration, the type of Sweynheym and Pannartz. My design breaks away from those types slightly in form and is softer in general feeling. In time I will cut other sizes.
  • Fellowship (1984; McGrew says 1986). Designed and cut by Jim Rimmer, and cast by him for private use: The design is the result of the feeling of joviality and 'fellowship' I experienced at the meeting (American Typecasting Fellowship in Washington, D.C.). The design was not so much drawn as it was written. The letters were written quickly in a calligraphic manner with an edged pencil and then enlarged and inked to make a dry transfer sheet. As in my two previous designs (see Juliana Oldstyle and Nephi Mediaeval), Fellowship was cut not in steel, but in type metal, and then electroplated to make castable matrices.
  • Albertan 16pt, 1985
  • Garamont [not entirely sure that this was done in metal]
  • Cartier Roman 14pt, 2004
  • Cree Syllabic 14pt, 2006
  • Duensing Titling 12, 14, 18, 24, 36, 48&60pt, 2004-07. Duensing in use.
  • Hannibal Oldstyle 18pt, 2003
  • Quill 14pt, 2006
  • Stern 16pt, 2008. This was his last completed typeface.

In 1970, Jim made his first film type, Totemic. This sturdy text type was revived in 2015 by Canada Type as Totemic, and contains as an extra a et of stackable totems.

Jim has designed and produced a collection of digital types, and over the past 20 years has designed and cut six metal types. He recently completed a Monotype Large Comp type named Hannibal Oldstyle, is currently cutting 14 point matrices for Cartier Roman, and is making drawings for the cutting of a 14 point Western and Eastern Cree. Samples and discussion of his Cree typeface.

Jim in action in 2003. According to Gerald Giampa from Lanston, Jim is the most talented type designer alive in 2003. About his typefaces, I quote McGrew: Fellowship was designed and cut by Jim Rimmer in Vancouver in 1986, and cast by him for private use. He says, "The design is the result of the feeling of joviality and 'fellowship' I experienced at the meeting (American Typecasting Fellowship in Washington, D.C.). The design was not so much drawn as it was written. The letters were written quickly in a calligraphic manner with an edged pencil and then enlarged and inked to make a dry transfer sheet. As in my two previous designs (see Juliana Oldstyle and Nephi Mediaeval), Fellowship was cut not in steel, but in type metal, and then electroplated to make castable matrices." Juliana Oldstyle was designed and cut in 1984, as a private type. He says, "It represents my first attempt at cutting a metal type. I drew my letters completely freehand, hoping to capture a punchcut look. My artwork was then reduced and made into a dry transfer sheet, which I rubbed onto type-high typemetal blanks. I then cut the letters and electroformed copper matrices." Nephi Mediaeval was designed and cut in 1986, for private use. He says it "was inspired by the Subiaco type of the Ashendene Press and by its inspiration, the type of Sweynheym and Pannartz. My design breaks away from those types slightly in form and is softer in general feeling. In time I will cut other sizes."

In 2012, Rimmer Type Foundry was acquired by Canada Type. The press release: Canada Type, a font development studio based in Toronto, has acquired the Rimmer Type Foundry (RTF) from P22 Type Foundry, Inc. The RTF library contains the complete body of work of Canadian design icon Jim Rimmer (1934-2010), who was an enormous influence on Canadian type design and private press printing, and the subject of Richard Kegler's documentary, Making Faces: Metal Type in the 21st Century. The RTF library contains many popular font families, such as Albertan, Amethyst, Credo, Dokument and Stern, as well as quite a few analog designs that were never produced in digital. Now that Rimmer's work has been repatriated, it will be remastered and expanded by Canada Type, then re-released to the public, starting in the fall of 2012. Jim's analog work will also be produced digitally and available to the public alongside his remastered and expanded work. Once Jim's designs are re-released, part of their sales will be donated to fund the Canada Type Scholarship, an award given annually to design students in Canada. This will be done in coordination with the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC), the national professional association that awarded Jim Rimmer with the prestigious GDC Fellowship in 2007.

Jim Rimmer digitized Elizabeth (+Italic). From 2006 until 2012, the Rimmer Type Foundry collection was offered by P22. It included:

  • RTF Albertan: A great text family developed between 1982 and 2005. In 2013, it as remastered by Canada Type and reissued as Albertan Pro, calling it a first post-Baskerville-post-Joanna typeface.
  • RTF Alexander Quill: An artsy fartsy (in the good sense) and slightly 1920s Czech type family.
  • RTF Amethyst: A tall ascender serif family.
  • RTF Cadmus: A stone slab or Greek simulation face. P22 writes: Rimmer's re-working of a design done by Robert Foster, a hand lettering artist. Foster's type, named Pericles, is a style that he used for a time in lettering magazines and advertising headings. The design is based closely on early inscriptional Greek, but is less formal than the sans types of Foster's time. Cadmus keeps the proportions of Pericles but is overall less quirky than the Foster design. This was further expanded by Canada Type as Cadmus Pro (2016).
  • RTF Cotillion (1999): A tall ascendered Koch inspired sans family. Looks quite like Bernhard Modern.
  • RTF Credo: A six-weight sans family.
  • RTF Dokument: An extensive sans family: Dokument was my attempt to make a Sans Grotesque in the general weight of News Gothic (for the Dokument regular) but took nothing from News Gothic. I used some of the basic forms of my Credo series, but made many on-screen changes and broke away entirely from Credo on the range of weights. My plan was to make a typeface that will fill the requirements of financial document setting; things like annual reports and other such pieces of design. It is my hope that the large family of weights and variants will suit Dokument to this kind of work. This family was created in 2005 and published in 2006. A reworking by Patrick Griffin at Canada Type eventually led to Dokument Pro (2014).
  • RTF Elizabeth: An elegant tall ascender typeface about which Rimmer writes: Elizabeth Roman and its companion Italic were designed as a pair by Elizabeth Friedlander, and cut and cast for decades by the historic Bauer foundry of Germany.
  • RTF Fellowship: A standard script.
  • RTF Lancelot Titling: A roman titling typeface with Koch-like influences.
  • RTF Lapis: A calligraphic serif, inspired by Rudolf Koch.
  • RTF Posh Initials: A formal script.
  • RTF Poster Paint: A fat irregular poster font inspired by Goudy Stout.
  • RTF Zigarre Script: A bouncy brush script with rough outlines.
  • RTF Canadian Syllabics (2007): This font was developed as a metal typeface by Jim Rimmer for a special project and is now available in digital form. Containing over 700 glyphs in OpenType format, this font covers most Canadian Aboriginal Languages. RTF Canadian Syllabics is a more calligraphic version of the syllabary developed by Reverend James Evans for the languages of the native tribes of the Canadian provinces in the early 1800s. Jim Rimmer originally designed the characters for the Eastern and Western dialect Cree to be cut as a metal font. The digital version then grew to include all the characters of the Canadian Syllabics Unicode block.
  • Nephi Mediaeval (2007), a type heavily reflective of the semi roman of Sweynheim and Pannartz (in Jim's words).
  • Stern (2008, RTF) was simultaneously released both digitally and in metal. Named after the late printer Christopher Stern (WA), it is an upright italic intended for poetry. Colin Kahn (P22) has expanded the Pro digital version (originally designed by Jim Rimmer) for a variety of options. The set features Stern Aldine (Small x-height Caps with standard lower case), Regular, Tall Caps (with standard lc)&Small Caps with x-height caps in place of lc). Youtube. David Earls writes: I've heard people say that letterpress gives warmth, but I prefer to think of it as giving humanity. That the types interaction on a page is so dependent on the punch cutter, the caster, the compositor, the printer, the humidity, the papermaker and inkmaker gives it a humanity, not a warmth, and decries the demise of letterpress. In 2013, Canada Type remastered Stern as Stern Pro---this typeface now covers Greek, and is loaded with Opentype features.
  • RTF Loxley (2010): The style of Loxley is based on early Roman typefaces, such as the "Subiaco" type of the late 1400s that was also inspirational to Frederick Goudy for his "Franciscan", "Aries" and "Goudy Thirty" type typefaces. Loxley displays some of Jim's particular left handed calligraphy and is in a similar style to his "Fellowship" and "Alexander Quill" typefaces, both of which were made in metal and digital formats. In 2013, Canada Type published a remastered and expanded version simply called Loxley.

FontShop link.

Jim Rimmer passed away early on January 8, 2010. His friend Richard Kegler (P22) wrote this obituary the next day: Jim was a multi-talented type designer, graphic artist, bookbinder, printer, letterer, technician and a most generous teacher. He was never glory-seeking and turned down most speaking engagements offered to him, not out of vanity or indifference, but rather thinking that he was not worthy of being given a spotlight. Jim offered free typecasting instruction to anyone who asked and came to visit him in his studio in New Westminster BC. He took as much time as needed and was generous to a fault. Anyone who took him up on this open invitation can attest to the intense and elegant chaos of his studio and work habits. I was fortunate enough to know Jim but for only a few years. What started as a business arrangement grew into a mutual respect and ongoing correspondence that I can only describe as life changing for me. His kindness and generosity were exceptional and his diplomacy even when given the opportunity to speak ill of anyone else was measured and kind. Jim's dedication to the craft of type design and related arts was beyond most if not all contemporaries. After his "retirement" from his professional life as a graphic artist and illustrator, he tirelessly worked on type designs for book projects where all aspects of his skills were applied. His book "Leaves from the Pie Tree" (I encouraged him to change the title from his original plan to call it "Droppings from the Pie Tree"...a truly self-effacing Jim Rimmerism) is the best single tome that summarizes his life and work. He designed the bookıs typeface in Ikarus (as he had with the 200+ other type design he created), cut the matrices and cast the type, wrote the text using an autobiographical introduction and continued to explain the process he used to cut pantographic matrices for his metal typefaces. The multi-colored lino cut illustrations, book design, individual tipped in sheets and attention to press work and binding would be impressive for one specialist to complete on each component. The fact that Jim did all of this himself is awe inspiring. A trade edition of this book has been printed by Gaspereau press but does not hint at the grandeur of the beautiful book that is Pie Tree. Jim's follow up of his edition of Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer (set in his Hannibal Oldstyle font designed for and fitted onto on a monotype composition caster) was recently completed and is equally if not more imposing as a fine press book, but with a sympathetic humor and humanity that would knock the stuffing of any other fine press attempt at the same material. Almost two years ago I visited Jim for a week and filmed footage for a documentary on his cutting of the Stern typeface. For various reasons the finishing of the film has been delayed. I truly regret that Jim could not see the finished version. With the film and his Pie Tree book, Jim generously conveys information on making metal type that has otherwise been largely lost and previously limited to a now defunct protective guild system. It was his wish that the information and craft be kept alive. Jim's last email to me was in classic Jim form hinting at his tireless dedication to his work: details of a new type family for a new book. He was one of the great ones. He will be missed.

Sumner Stone: Jim's insights into Goudy's typefaces in particular, and his devotion to doing everything in his own shop made me think he was perhaps Fred's reincarnation, but it took me awhile to realize this due to the self-deprecating personality you so accurately describe. His passing is truly a great loss to our craft.

Rod McDonald: I would like to relate a telephone conversation I had with Jim last month because I believe it shows his incredible spirit, and wonderful sense of humor. My wife and I visited Jim in November and were delighted to hear that his doctors had pronounced him cancer free. He looked good, just a little tired, but that was to be expected after his recent radiation treatment. Of course he was also anxious to get back to work. Less than two weeks later I received an email from him informing me that they had discovered that the cancer had spread to his lungs and, not only was it inoperable, he now only had six months to live. This sudden turn of affairs was devastating for me and I called him, hoping I think, to hear that it wasn't as bad as it sounded. He said it was bad and apparently nothing could be done. However he felt he would outlive the six months and in fact we even talked of getting together in the fall. The conversation then turned to his latest type family and when I gently asked him how long he thought it it would take to complete he simply said "I've got lots of time, after all I'm only going to be dying during the last fifteen minutes". I knew Jim for thirty-five years and will miss him more than his work, and that's saying a great deal.

In 2012, Canada Type, which had purchased Rimmer's designs started publishing some of Jim's lesser known designs. These include Cotillion Pro (2012, a very graceful typeface with high ascenders), Fellowship (2013, calligraphic), Poster Paint (2012, a take on Goudy Stout), Zigarre Script and Zigarre Rough (2012, brush scripts that were actually drawn with a marker), and Alexander Quill (2012, a calligraphic monastic typeface).

In 2013, Canada Type remastered several of Rimmer's typefaces, including in particular Isabelle Pro: Isabelle is the closest thing to a metal type revival Jim Rimmer ever did. The original metal typeface was designed and cut in late 1930s Germany, but its propspects were cut short by the arrival of the war. This was one of Jim's favourite typefaces, most likely because of the refined art deco elements that reminded him of his youthful enthusiasm about everything press-related, and the face's intricately thought balance between calligraphy and typography. Not to mention one of the most beautiful italics ever made. Lancelot Pro (2013) is a calligraphic all caps typeface based on Rimmer's digital original from 1999.

Pictures: Jim Rimmer casts 48pt ATypI keepsake (by John Hudson), Remembering Jim Rimmer (Facebook group), In his studio, a picture taken by the Globe and Mail. Another pic. Making Faces (trailer) (movie by Richard Kegler).

Klingspor link. ContentDM collection. Jim Rimmer at the Fine Press Book Association. Rimmer Type Foundry link.

View all typefaces by Jim Rimmer. An alphabetical listing of Jim Rimmer's typefaces. Catalog of Jim Rimmer's typefaces.

EXTERNAL LINKS
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INTERNAL LINKS
Type designers ⦿ Type designers ⦿ The Canadian type scene ⦿ Native-American fonts ⦿ Commercial fonts (small outfits) ⦿ Brush script typefaces ⦿ Calligraphic typefaces ⦿ Garalde or Garamond typefaces ⦿ Greek/Coptic ⦿ Frederic William Goudy ⦿ Letterpress ⦿ Baskerville ⦿ Photo and film type era ⦿ Lapidary typefaces ⦿ Linocut Type ⦿








file name: Jim Rimmer Canada Type Albertan Pro 2013


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Luc Devroye ⦿ School of Computer Science ⦿ McGill University Montreal, Canada H3A 2K6 ⦿ lucdevroye@gmail.com ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org/fonts.html