Puffins & Type & Penguins & Systems

Getting warmer (and also colder) with Ruari McLean

Ruari McLean started as a designer for Penguin books on their Puffin Picture Books line. He wrote a ton of other books on typography and design, Thames and Hudson Manual of Typography included. As a result, he was something of a rockstar in the typographic field.

By 1980, when Thames & Hudson was published, scholars had dropped the term Mechanistic to refer to Slab Serifs. Other than that, McLean’s system seems to fit the most widely accepted norms. He calls the Serif typefaces Humanist, Geralde, Transitional, and the popular Didone for the Moderns. He also uses the four (pretty much standard by now) sub classifications for Sans Serifs and Blackletters.

McLean doesn’t sub-classify the “Display” typefaces. Instead, they all hand out underneath one umbrella, Manual / Graphic. It’s an interesting option, because even though they’ve all been lumped into one (the dreaded catch-all), he doesn’t resort to using a miscellaneous section (looking at you, Dowding).

The Manual / Graphic Umbrella of Display.

Incised / Glyphic is a fun, pretty random category for stone carved letters, and those typefaces modeled on that aesthetic. (So, Trajan?)

Finally, he has a category for Script faces, referring to fonts based in classic calligraphy and handwriting (you know, the real kind that they taught your grandparents), rather than those typefaces that are drawn with the built-up method, which would fall into his Manual / Glyphic category.

All in all, a pretty great stab, that sort of falls apart in the Display section. But what else it new?

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