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Designer: Tobias Frere-Jones
Foundry: Frere-Jones Type
Release Date: December 1, 2015
Back Story: “Mallory is an American-British hybrid (like me), with Gill Sans on one side and Metro on the other,” says Frere-Jones. “I set out to design something that would have personality and flavor, but not so much that it limits what you can do with it.” Mallory is stylish and modern, the offspring of a marriage between typeface families—one distinctly American and the other assuredly British—with distinguished heritages stretching back to the ’20s. Frere-Jones has been developing Mallory since February 2014.
Why’s it called Mallory? Mallory is one of Frere-Jones’ middle names. In his family, the names of relatives were divided up into middle names for the children. Each brother has two middle names, alternating the namesakes’ first and last names, with Tobias getting one relative’s first name, his brother Sasha getting the same relative’s last name, and vice versa for their second middle names. Less confusingly, Frere-Jones wanted the first typeface available from his recently launched type foundry to reflect his own history because he considers it his most personal design yet.
What are its distinguishing characteristics? Mallory has the legibility and variance in weights of Gill Sans, plus the diagonally angled terminals and delicate quirkiness of Metro. It’s slightly more muscular than either typeface and has its own range of idiosyncrasies, such as a very sharp center point on the capital M that dips below the baseline, a terrifically sexy, voluptuous numeral three, and a lowercase a that’s a particular favorite of its designer. Frere-Jones says, “The ‘a’ is made up of such disparate parts that it shouldn’t work, but it’s precisely because it’s a point/counterpoint, apples-and-oranges situation that it holds itself together.” That letter was the hardest to design of any character; he went through 16 or 17 iterations before he was satisfied.
What should I use it for? Like its relative Gill Sans, the middle weights are optimal for text while the lightest and heaviest are excellent as display copy, making Mallory a versatile choice for publication design. Mallory is extremely legible at small sizes, helpful when designing tabular material, and there is a Micro Plus weight meant for fine print in sizes as tiny as five point.