The Counter Press share their favourite typefaces

Inspired by a love of words, strong ideas and meticulous craftsmanship, The Counter Press create thoughtful, contemporary typographic design predominantly using traditional wood and metal type.

Sitting somewhere between a graphic design practice and a traditional private press, most of their work is designed and printed at a wonderfully sedate pace, by hand, using the age-old process of letterpress. Our workshop has a total of six printing presses, ranging from small Victorian cast iron hand presses to much larger 1960s precision proofing presses. On these we print with an ever-growing library of wood type and cases of metal type – some freshly cast, others founts are old, un-digitised faces.

As we prepare to welcome The Counter Press on stage at Glug Birmingham this month, we teamed up with Birmingham based lifestyle blog Bell & Smokey to ask The Counter Press to share their favourite typefaces.

The full range of Stephenson, Blake & Co’s grotesques

The full range of Stephenson, Blake & Co’s grotesques

“We love grotesques, but many of our favourites have names that won’t mean much to most people, or don’t have names at all.” says Elizabeth Ellis, co-founder of The Counter Press.

“In our workshop we have cases full of these odd and anonymous sans serif wood typefaces. Unlike today, when all fonts come with a name, the type founders of the late 19th and early 20th century preferred generic names and numbers. One of our favourites is a 10-line (or 120pt) font cut by DeLittle of York, and very simply named Sans No. 58 – it’s highly condensed and with such narrow counters it almost becomes illegible, but has a wonderful character. In metal type we like the robust quirkiness of Stephenson Blake & Co’s Condensed Sans Serif No.7 and Grot No.9, both have very distinctive and idiosyncratic characters – like the ‘c’ that almost curls round on itself, the hooked ‘r’ that looks like a beak, and the swooping ’s’ that nearly becomes an 8… “

“Many of these faces have never been adapted into a digital typeface, so when we do need something that doesn’t require typesetting by hand and inking up, our go to foundries are Commercial Type and Fontsmith. We’ve actually got a particular soft spot of FS Brabo, a lovely contemporary take on a classic serif.  Beyond that, our favourites tend to shift and change depending on the job we’re working on.”

Sans No. 58 is highly condensed and with such narrow counters it almost becomes illegible, but has a wonderful character.

Elizabeth Ellis
Our wood type version of Sans Serif No. 7

Sans Serif No. 7 – Wood

In metal type we like the robust quirkiness of Stephenson Blake & Co’s Condensed Sans Serif No.7 and Grot No.9; both have very distinctive and idiosyncratic characters.

Elizabeth Ellis
Our metal type version of Sans Serif No. 7

Sans Serif No. 7 – Metal

DeLittle No. 58

DeLittle No. 58

DeLittle No. 58

DeLittle No. 58

We’ve actually got a particular soft spot of FS Brabo, a lovely contemporary take on a classic serif. Beyond that, our favourites tend to shift and change depending on the job we’re working on.

Elizabeth Ellis
DeLittle No. 58

DeLittle No. 58

The Counter Press will be joining us on stage at Glug Birmingham ‘Personality Types‘ on Thursday 15th June at Spotlight & Mama Roux, Digbeth, Birmingham. Tickets are now on sale via Eventbrite, priced at £9.50.

studio@thecounterpress.co.uk | thecounterpress.co.uk

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Posted on Jun 14th, 17 by | Twitter: @inkygoodness

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