Saturday, 8 August 2009

No X please, it’s the Bible

To provide 3-line drop initials for the Oxford Lectern Bible (1935), Monotype cut a special semi-bold titling series, which is shown in the OUP ‘List of jobbing founts’ under the same Series number, 295, as the regular Centaur Titling.

Bruce Rogers describes the design process in his booklet ‘An account of the making of the Oxford Lectern Bible’: ‘The Centaur capitals were not heavy enough for the three-line chapter initials: so a new fount was cut. The first cutting proved to be too heavy, but the second cutting produced the initials shown here.’


You might expect this to be a full titling alphabet – but why the note ‘No “X” available’?


Another OUP specimen, ‘List of Monotype founts’ provides the answer. An Authorized Version of the Bible requires an initials of every letter of the alphabet – except X. The full table is shown below:


Being mean with letters you didn’t need was a bit of a Bible tradition at Oxford. The New Emerald Bible type, designed by Harry Carter, was only equipped with two small capitals, D and R. These were quite sufficient to set the only two words that appear in cap and small cap in the Authorized Version, ‘LORD’ and ‘GOD’. The lower-case o doubled as a small capital in this typeface.

‘An account of the making of the Oxford Lectern Bible’, Philadelphia: Lanston Monotype Machine Company [c. 1941]

‘List of | JOBBING | FOUNTS | Monotype and foundry | at the | UNIVERSITY PRESS | OXFORD | [swelled rule] | OXFORD | Printed by VIVIAN RIDLER | at the UNIVERSITY PRESS | October 1962’

‘LIST OF | MONOTYPE FOUNTS | AND SPECIAL SORTS | AT THE | UNIVERSITY PRESS | OXFORD | [university arms] | OCTOBER 1976’

Photograph of ‘An account …’ by Raph Levian

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