Monday, October 4, 2010


Belizio and the Slab Serifs
The origin of the Belizio font dates back to the year 1987 when it was designed by David Berlow and released by the Font Bureau in 1987. David Berlow was born in Boston in 1954 and is still alive today, currently working on an expansion of the ITC Franklin Gothic type family for Monotype imaging. The eight-part Belizio series updates the first Font Bureau typefaces. David Berlow's typefaces family is based on Aldo Novarese's Egizio, designed in 1955 for Nebiolo. It was first prompted by the popularity of Haas' Clarendon, designed by Hoffmann and Eidenbenz. This font is an impeccably Swiss revival of the traditional English letterform. Aldo Novarese was among the first to investigate a true italic designed in the Clarendon style. Belizio has a very subtle contrast of stroke, is very rectangular, machine-like, and mono-form. The classification of the Belizio font is slab-serif.
Slab serif is a genre of letterforms that has been in use for almost 200 years.In typography, a slab serif font is also called square serif, mechanistic, or Egyptian. The slab serif typeface is characterized by thick, block-like serifs. Serif terminals may either be round like the Courier font, or blunt and angular like the Rockwell font. Generally having no bracket, slab serif typefaces are considered to be a subset of modern serif typefaces. Because of their bold appearance, they are most commonly used in advertisements and large headlines. Slab Serifs are seldom used in body text. The exception is those that are monospaced, because of their usage in typewriters, but that is declining as electronic publishing becomes even more common. One recent exception is the typeface designed for The Guardian newspaper in the UK. The Guardian uses an Egyptian typeface throughout the paper as body text. As printed material began to branch out from the familiar realm of books, new typefaces were needed for use in posters, flyers, and advertising. Vincent Figgins first commercially introduced the slab serif printing type under the name Antique, with copies dated from 1815 and 1817. Until this time, type was designed for one purpose, to fill long stretches of texts for books. With Mechanisation and major innovations in printing technology (Steam Press of 1814), advertisers in particular were looking for a type that stood out form the crowd. Following Napoleon's Egyptian campaign, an intense cultural fascination with all things Egyptian followed. There was no relationship between Egyptian writing systems and slab serif types, but either shrewd marketing of honest confusion led to slab serif fonts often being called Egyptians. Many early slab serif fonts are named for the subject: Cairo, Karnak, Memphis. The common metonym "Egyptian" is derived from a craze for Egyptian artifacts in Europe and North America in the early nineteenth century. This led typefounders producing Slab Serifs to call their designs Egyptian. The term Egyptian had previously been used to describe sans-serif types in England, so the term 'Antique' was used by British and American typefounders. The term Egyptienne was used by French and German foundries, derived from the original Egyptian name.
There are many sub-classifications of the slab-serif type. The 'authentic' slab serif has unbracketed serifs (an abrupt serif that meets the stem at a 90 degree angle). With that said, there are numerous examples that come with bracketed serifs. The three different subgroups of the slab-serif typeface are Clarendon, Neo-grotesque, and Italienne. The first Clarendon was introduced in 1845 by R. Besley & Co as a general purpose bold face for use in conjunction with other serif text faces in works such as dictionaries. In some respects, it can be regarded as a refined version of the Egyptian style and as such can be used for text settings. Headline and display work is more usual for the Clarendon model, however. This particular model has seen many revivals, especially during the 1950s and 1980s. The Clarendon model is unlike any other slab serif in that is actually has some bracketing and some contrast in size in the actual serif. As an attempt to reign in some of the extravagances of the Fat Face display types, Clarendon can be used as a fit for text faces. The contrast was reduced, the serifs thinned, and the x-height was increased for legibility at the smaller sizes. Some examples of the Clarendon model are Clarendon and Egyptienne. The neo-grotesque model is the most common of the slab serif typefaces. Neo-grotesque have no bracketing and evenly weighted stems and serifs. The letterforms are similar to realist sans-serif fonts and examples include Rockwell and Memphis. The Italienne model the serifs are even heavier than the stems, this creates a dramatic, attention-drawing effect. Some Italienne slab serifs, such as Playbill, have a characteristic Western appearance. This is likely a result of their frequent use in western-era posters. There are also typewriter typefaces, which are named for their use in strike-on typewriting. These faces originated in monospaced format with fixed-width. This meant that every character takes up exactly the same amount of horizontal space. This feature is necessary based on the nature of the typewriter apparatus. Examples of this monospaced format include Courier, Courier New, and Prestige Elite (Clarendon model), and ITC American Typewriter. ITC American typewriter is a typeface immortalized in Milton Glaser's I 'Heart' New York logo. In addition to those typeface classifications, there are also the Geometric slab serifs that look like the early Sans Serif types only with the serifs broken off. Most of the slab serifs available today are digitized versions of very old typefaces. The Archer font form H&FJ is considered one of the best slab serifs for setting extended text. It comes in numerous weights, look sleek, and has an excellent italic accompaniment. A new wave of slab serifs hit the typographic world during the 1930s. These letterforms follow a "constructed" principle. These fonts are called "Standard-Bearers". The groundwork for this type of slab serif was laid in Frankfurt, Germany. Rudolf Wolf designed the Memphis typeface at the D. Stempel AG foundry in 1929.
Belizio is not a very well known font, and is very. But, it comes from a type classification rich in history and usage: The Slab Serif.


Cheng, Karen. Designing Type. New Haven, CT: Yale UP, 2006. Print.

Annand, Carolyn, Philip B. Meggs, Roy McKelvey, and Ben Day. Revival of the Fittest: Digital Versions of Classic Typefaces. New York: RC Publications, 2000. Print.

Blackwell, Lewis, and Lewis Blackwell. 20th-century Type. New Haven, CT: Yale UP, 2004. Print.

"Belizio « [LAUREN SCHIMMING]." [LAUREN SCHIMMING]. Web. 04 Oct. 2010. .

"Slab Serifs - Linotype Font Feature." Download Fonts from Classic to Cool - Web. 04 Oct. 2010. .

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