Our weekly look at a favorite new typeface. Share yours with us on Twitter @AIGAeyeondesign and Instagram @AIGAeyeondesign with #TypeTuesday.
Name: De Worde
Designer: Jeremy Tankard
Foundry: Jeremy Tankard Typography
Release Date: January 2017
Back story: Ever heard of the Wynkyn de Worde Society, a UK group dedicated to promoting excellence in print and the graphic arts? Neither had we, to be honest, even though it’s been around for 60 years. Tankard has, though, and to celebrate the anniversary the society’s former chairman designed a new italic typeface in honor of De Worde, an assistant to 15th-century printer William Caxton.
When Caxton died in 1492, De Worde inherited his business, which included the first printing press in England (gasp) and produced editions of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur. Later, at the turn of the 16th century, De Worde moved the enterprise to Fleet Street, where he introduced the italics that inspired Tankard’s new typeface.
Why’s it called De Worde? It’s a better name for a typeface than Wynkyn.
What are its distinguishing characteristics? Tankard drew inspiration from the freewheeling rhythms of the original character set, which bob along the baseline, as well as on several little oddities within individual letterforms. For instance, there are some unusual bends and twists in the “r”, the “l” has an unexpectedly angular top stroke, and a cursive “g” replaces the Roman style found in the original italic.
Since the Roman-style capitals used in early italics made for text that looks jumbled and just plain weird (to our modern sensibilities), Tankard developed proper italic caps for De Worde by interpreting and expanding on details from the lowercase letterforms. (A type specimen designed by Alistair Hall of We Made This shows off the typeface’s many unique features; download a PDF or buy a copy of the printed specimen).
What should I use it for? Designed for versatility, in seven weights from a delicate Extra Light to an exuberant Heavy (each with an extended character set including small caps, superiors, number sets, and fractions) De Worde is at home in a wide range of design applications. Try it anywhere that calls for a bit of spirit, rather than places where strict formality is more appropriate.
Who’s it friends with? It looks great with the quiet yet personable dignity of Gill Sans and also plays nice with Mallory. If you’re looking for a serif companion, Mercury Text (that workhorse!) has a comfortable affinity, too.