Century: A timeline
A timeline on the development of Century, with bits and pieces taken from The Century family (Paul Shaw, for Fine Print magazine), which in turn was based on material from Mac McGrew. Also check these typophile opinions. I have added personal comments and items to complete the picture.
- Theodore Low DeVinne (1829-1914), printer of The Century magazine, designed a stronger, bolder and more readable typeface for the magazine and commissioned Linn Boyd Benton (1844-1932) of ATF to cut it.
- L.B. Benton cut it on the newly invented Benton punch-cutting machine and in 1895 was christened Century Roman. Afterwards, a companion typeface was created for ATF by L.B. Benton: Century no. 2, later called Century Broad-face. This typeface became the basis for Century Expanded, designed by L.B.'s son, Morris Fuller Benton in 1902 [Image by Heather Leonhardt]. Over the course of three more years, the italic, bold and bold italics were developed.
- Then after a few more years, Morris Fuller Benton developed Century Oldstyle. Paul Shaw writes While the essential appearance of Century Roman and Century Expanded derived from Bodoni and Didot, that of Century Oldstyle seems to have been based on Caslon.
- 1915: Century Book, a redevelopment of Century Oldstyle.
- Soon after, ATF was approached by Ginn&Co., the textbook publisher, with a request for a new typeface for schoolbooks. M.F. Benton began review of research done at Clark University on the relationship between the legibility of type and the eyesight of children. Consequently, Benton increased the space between letters, the x-height of each letter, and the weight of each stroke, and balanced the color of the type by opening up the counters. The result was Century Schoolbook, completed in 1919.
- In 1964, ATF commissioned Charles E. Hughes to design a new proportion for Century Expanded... the result, Century Nova, was more condensed.
- Under license from ATF, Tony Stan designed the sixteen-weight ITC Century family between 1975 and 1980 for International Typeface Corporation. [ITC Century Light and Ultra were released in 1975 while the other styles appeared only in 1980]. It has the large x-height that is characteristic of many typefaces of ITC in that time period. Nick Shinn: The color of ITC Century is not good at smaller text sizes.
- David Berlow: New Century Schoolbook was designed from 1979 until 1981 in the New York Lettering office of Merganthaler Linotype based on Century Schoolbook, long after the Bentons had passed on. It was the second face, after New Baskerville, that was digitized and expanded using Ikarus (digital technology). The Bitstream version [Century Schoolbook] is a near exact copy, only being moved from a 54 unit to a 2000 or so unit design. Matthew Carter did a lot of the work on New Century Schoolbook.
- Grad (Phil Martin, 2004, Mark Simonson Studio) was a redesign of the classic Century Schoolbook for Martin's personal use in the early '90s.
- See also Modern Century by SoftMaker. In addition, Centrum is an old Bitstream name for ITC Century back when they were in the cloning business.
View various commercial digital versions of Century Schoolbook.
Century: A timeline
History of type ⦿
Modern style [Bodoni, Didot, Walbaum, Thorowgood, Computer Modern, etc.] ⦿
Morris Fuller Benton ⦿