johannes gutenberg is largely credited with the introduction of the movable type printing press to europe around 1439. though we pretty much take it for granted nowadays that posters, books, leaflets and other printed matter can be easily and economically produced, prior to the appearance of gutenberg's printing press, the situation was less amenable. the movable type was produced by creating molds for each letter and pouring a molten mixture of lead, tin and antimony to fashion each individual letter. of course, having created his monster, there was the inevitable collateral damage, by which i refer to the subsequent need for typefaces.
tautologically, handwriting preceded the printing process, the latter effectively imposing a necessary standardisation on a literature that could now be reproduced in far larger quantities, doubtless making many a monk redundant in the process. for those who may have studied or investigated calligraphy and copperplate, it will be apparent that, despite similarities of style, there were considerable variations in the presentation of type. there's also little doubt that any textual errors could now be relatively easily corrected without having need of starting over at each inadvertant slip of the quill.
if a variation in type was now required, a new strata of employment was created that has expanded over the centuries into a subset of society every bit as fervent and geeky as the pelotonese. i know of no alternative to classifying the originators of typefaces as type designers, but those responsible, even if self-appointed, for the setting of type and all matters relating to same are generally referred to as typographers, while those of us with a penchant for collecting typefaces and avidly reading related printed matter have often been called typophiles.
to place all this in context, several type societies abide by the motto/mantra 'who dies with the most fonts wins'. this has parallels with stamp or coin collecting in that a certain level of discretion has to be applied by those involved in the intrinsic world of typefaces. though many of the great unwashed have a tendency to use whichever font is set as the default on their computer software, often failing even to adjust the type size in the interests of decency and/or legibility, type pedants such as myself will often give careful procrastination time as to which of our several hundred (thousand?) fonts would best fill the bill.
you would think that, once we've accepted that there is serif, sans serif and italicised text, that the world would have been set to rights and we could simply get on with the real life that includes bicycles. but no; those type designers have need of being gainfully employed, and type is no less at the mercy of fashion than the colour of our carbon top tubes. thus, what at one time was referred to as a type foundry based on the previously mentioned molten metal and type molds, is now still referred to as a foundry, but with the word digital used as a modern adjective.
such a one is house industries based in yorklyn, delaware.
regular inhabitors of these pixels will have read me make mention of these fellows on previous occasions, not least as the progenitors of the recently released vélo typeface and designers of richard sachs' corporate image. this latter function has extended not only as far as the frame colours for his cyclocross team, but to the team kit, including socks, with the temperature of saffron varied depending to which team member they belong. such is their current involvement with the world of the velocipede, that exhibits consisting of font-related clothing and vélo appliqued bicycles have appeared at rapha's cycle clubs across the pond.
a prominently featured item midst this cornucopia of type and bicycles is the exquisitely presented merino wool vélo jersey, with the word 'house' embroidered large on front and back, set in the vélo typeface. in my particular case, house industries were not only kind enough to send a jersey, but a strikingly original vélo cap and matching socks (from portland's the athletic community).
you would think, perhaps, that the jersey (produced by woolistic) was one more aimed at the leisure market, but i am here to immediately disavow you of that notion. though weather conditions (where has summer gone?) dictated that i match it with a pair of merino wool armwarmers, the house jersey fulfilled pretty much every function demanded of it. this stretched (if you'll pardon the pun) to the ubiquitous three rear pockets of which i required that they caretake a stowaway waterproof, a spare jersey for the mighty dave t (don't ask) an essentials case with coffee money and a digital camera as well as a musette in which to carry a bag of jumbo porridge oats on the way home.
for those who have covered their eyes or are cowering in the corner, no, such a bulky cargo did not stretch them to the point of shapelessness. in fact, devoid of its luggage, the jersey maintained a funky insouciance that i believe is more than likely to be conferred upon all who sail (ride) in it. the so-called euro size fitting of my medium sized example was quite impeccable. there is a time and place for the cutting edge of technical fabrics, but debbie's café on a saturday lunchtime is hardly it. house industries may hold a deserved reputation as a quality if quirky digital type foundry, but it's nice that they have seen fit to apply their typography in our particular direction in such a superb, yet understated style.
the house 'vélo' merino cycle jersey retails at $150 (approx £100), the italian made 'vélo' cap at $20 (approx £13) and the socks $25 (approx. £16). the vélo typeface can be downloaded direct from house industries at a cost of $275 (approx £181) licensed for up to ten machines and including a total of 16 fonts in various weights.
tuesday 02 june 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................