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View Full Version : Johnston's London Underground font available commercially


Hugh Wyn Griffith
07-14-2005, 06:55 AM
This may be old stuff here but it goes back to my youth and fascination with Eric Gill:

Interesting post in the Compuserve London Forum on Edward Johnston's London Underground font now being available as a commercial font, with some links to articles on it, the Metro and the NY Subway.
Maybe this link will work for others than me:

http://community.compuserve.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?nav=messages&tsn=1&tid=4567&webtag=ws-london

but if not go to www.compusereve.com (http://www.compusereve.com), find Forums, find London Forum and find:

London Stuff (http://community.compuserve.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?nav=messages&mode=13&webtag=ws-london&folderId=10)http://acx.prospero.com/dir-icon/43/5/arrow_right_lg.iconLondon Underground Font Available

ktinkel
07-14-2005, 02:17 PM
Interesting post in the Compuserve London Forum on Edward Johnston's London Underground font now being available as a commercial font, with some links to articles on it, the Metro and the NY Subway.Thanks, Hugh. I had never been to the London Forum (and got there with your link), and I posted an update there in case some of the members are interested in obtaining a modern font based on the 1916 Johnston design.

There have been two: the P-22 font being discussed, which is a few years old; and Johnston, from ITC (now Monotype Typography), which was released in 1999. Since the latter did not have the approval of London Transport, it used a different name. But the packages are not identical, anyway.

Thanks for passing that on.

marlene
07-14-2005, 03:42 PM
I've got the P22 version of the font AND the mug!

mxh

Mike
07-15-2005, 01:06 AM
I frequently use the P22 Underground where I might otherwise use Gill Sans. Some years ago (1998?) I made a small pdf to compare the two. In case anyone's interested it's attached.

Personally I think I prefer Gill's upper case and Johnston's lower case.

Hugh Wyn Griffith
07-15-2005, 12:35 PM
Glad to see you there. I'm glad it survived on Compuserve when European did not.

Hugh Wyn Griffith
07-15-2005, 12:37 PM
I love those overlay comparisions -- I see in the differences Gill's elegance compared with Johnston's brusqueness.

Norman Hathaway
07-16-2005, 03:34 PM
i don't like any of the differences that gill introduced.
why in god's name LT allowed p-22 to sell it is beyond me.

they've done a less than stellar job of digitising as well.

if you enlarge it you'll see sloppy work on the stroke ends etc.

ktinkel
07-16-2005, 04:32 PM
i don't like any of the differences that gill introduced.
why in god's name LT allowed p-22 to sell it is beyond me.

they've done a less than stellar job of digitising as well.

if you enlarge it you'll see sloppy work on the stroke ends etc.Have you looked at the ITC fonts?

Michael Rowley
07-17-2005, 07:21 AM
Norman:

why in god's name LT allowed p-22 to sell it is beyond me

Surely Johnson's work is out of copyright, isn't it? That's what counts in most countries (though not the USA, unfortunately).

ktinkel
07-17-2005, 08:16 AM
Surely Johnston's work is out of copyright, isn't it? That's what counts in most countries (though not the USA, unfortunately).Copyright is not the issue — it is trademark.

The London Transport authority owns all rights in the London Underground trademark. They cannot stop anyone from going back to the letters and making a font but can legally prevent them from using the name. It is the name they licensed to P22.

It is trademarks that Monotype defends as well. If you can draw a better Bembo, go ahead. But do not try to call it Bembo or Bem or Bemtus or anything else that hints at “Bembo” or they will send you a lawyer letter.

Trademarks last as long as their owners defend them, unlike copyright, which expires after a time (if it applies at all).

Michael Rowley
07-17-2005, 11:42 AM
KT:

They cannot stop anyone from going back to the letters and making a font

London Transport can (except in the USA, & probably Russia) if the typeface is still in copyright and they own the copyright. The rondel logo of course can only be protected by trademark legislation. Typefaces are generally copyright, except that some countries insist on originality, and of course, a few countries insist there's no such thing as copyright in typefaces.

ktinkel
07-17-2005, 12:19 PM
London Transport can (except in the USA, & probably Russia) if the typeface is still in copyright and they own the copyright. Typefaces are generally copyright, except that some countries insist on originality, and of course, a few countries insist there's no such thing as copyright in typefaces.Until the last quarter of the 20th century, I do not think many (any? perhaps only Holland) countries granted copyright protection to fonts.

The law that started to cover them in England was passed in 1989. It was made to work retroactively, so that Times New Roman (and, one assumes, the Johnston design) is probably protected, but that retroactive provision is very weird (with works going from public domain to copyrighted).

In any event, there is a loophole — the copyright rule only applies to fonts first released in England or released there within a month of their release in some other country.

It all makes me dizzy.

Michael Rowley
07-17-2005, 02:32 PM
KT:

The law that started to cover them in England was passed in 1989

That is not quite right: the UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (sic) merely retained copyright in typefaces, so it could not be 'retroactive'. However, it does not confer a right of 'paternity'.

However, although it was clear that the designer of a typeface was granted copyright protection, there was some doubt in legal circles about what was being protected, and the committee that advised on changes to the law proposed that there should be special mention of this protection in the bill. But the government of the day pooh-poohed any doubt, and so the Act that was passed didn't provide for it. If the special provisions had been made, the copyright might have only lasted 25 years, as the committee recommended.

Probably large companies such as Monotype did adopt a belt-and-braces approach, for I imagine that the name is more important than the design for many people, but registration is expensive.

I don't know about other countries, but I assume that most signatories to the Berne Convention confer copyright on typefaces. Germany certainly does.

Norman Hathaway
07-18-2005, 08:06 AM
i've seen the itc versions.
just makes me sad the the great grand daddy of sans is treated so poorly.

i see no need for tweaking, and wish someone would just do a careful, considered translation.

the banks and miles job was wrong-headed in my opinion.

gill is always lauded for his being a more useful design, made for text usage, but i don't really buy into that. his original designs are not much different than johnston's. seems to me that monotype did most of the alterations that made Gill Sans 'real'. And some of these changes weren't so hot-

ktinkel
07-18-2005, 08:41 AM
i've seen the itc versions.
just makes me sad the the great grand daddy of sans is treated so poorly.

i see no need for tweaking, and wish someone would just do a careful, considered translation.

the banks and miles job was wrong-headed in my opinion.

gill is always lauded for his being a more useful design, made for text usage, but i don't really buy into that. his original designs are not much different than johnston's. seems to me that monotype did most of the alterations that made Gill Sans 'real'. And some of these changes weren't so hot-I don’t know what the design brief for any of the Johnston fonts was (P22, ITC, or the Banks & Miles update for London Transport). I think it would be difficult to make a useful text face from the Johnston originals — what on earth do you do about the l? Or the religiously monoweight strokes and bowls (even where they join)?

The Johnston lettering did not begin as a font. I'm not sure Johnston ever thought it might become one, or he might have lightened some of the crotches. (It was made into a font in 1922, but only in display sizes.) Would you want a translation intended for signage only? If not, considerable judgment would be called for …

As for Gill, he was pretty casual about a lot of things, including spacing — I think he has been quoted somewhere as saying that was something the drawing office could take care of. And Monotype did tame a few of his details (angled cuttoffs to the stems, for example).

Norman Hathaway
07-18-2005, 12:26 PM
i know p22 just copied the masters that were in the Banks book on the typeface (they told me this). B&M increased the x-height (sacrelige) and tightened the fit, then added weights, in order to make it friendlier for text setings. In the process they really neutered it. And now signs are done in varying weights as well. I always admired Johnston for NOT providing numerous weights. Kept it simple.

The ITC version is good. I think Farey is extremely talented.

But I think Gill's drawings are much nicer than the final Monotype version.

ktinkel
07-18-2005, 01:01 PM
i know p22 just copied the masters that were in the Banks book on the typeface (they told me this). B&M increased the x-height (sacrelige) and tightened the fit, then added weights, in order to make it friendlier for text setings. In the process they really neutered it. That, I am afraid, was their design brief. The point was to modernize the face — at just about the time the rest of the world was backing off from that high-x, tightly-spaced type.

The ITC version is good. I think Farey is extremely talented.He is a master letter draftsman, that’s for sure. (He does this parlor trick sometimes, cutting characters out of rubylith from memory, in the wink of an eye. I have a Goudy ampersand he did at Antwerp — really lovely thing.) And he did a good job on Stellar.

But I think Gill's drawings are much nicer than the final Monotype version.Of course. But they were odd at the time, and I suspect they would look odd today, too.

pdaoust
08-29-2006, 10:58 AM
(He does this parlor trick sometimes, cutting characters out of rubylith from memory, in the wink of an eye. I have a Goudy ampersand he did at Antwerp — really lovely thing.)

That was one of the funniest things I've read in a long time. I actually registered on this forum just so I could comment on your comment :-) I'm not sure why I found it so funny; I guess it's just one of those things that only a typography buff would appreciate the humour of.

ktinkel
08-29-2006, 12:25 PM
That was one of the funniest things I've read in a long time. I actually registered on this forum just so I could comment on your comment :-) I'm not sure why I found it so funny; I guess it's just one of those things that only a typography buff would appreciate the humour of.Glad we could amuse you that way. And welcome to the forum. We have been a little shy of typographic humor recently — join in!

pdaoust
09-01-2006, 01:54 PM
Glad we could amuse you that way. And welcome to the forum. We have been a little shy of typographic humor recently — join in!

I think that the very fact that there is such a thing as typographic humour says something about humanity as a whole, although I don't know what that statement would be...

marlene
09-01-2006, 02:26 PM
Time for me to trot out a story I tell every couple of years.

Many years ago, I went to a sandwich shop with a graphic designer friend to buy lunch -- a turkey and Havarti cheese sandwich. It had been a hectic day, and I was tired and distracted.

I ordered a turkey and Helvetica sandwich.

The sandwich guy was perplexed, but my friend and I were hysterical.

mxh

pdaoust
09-01-2006, 03:22 PM
oh ho ho ho! I can just imagine you laughing your heads off, enjoying a bonding experience enjoyed by an exclusive few, and the clerk staring at you like you were idiots.

(The sandwich guy wouldn't have even got the joke nowadays, even with the ubiquity of computers, thanks to the travesty known as Arial.)

ElyseC
09-02-2006, 11:08 AM
I wasn't a huge follower of the B.C. comic strip, but my favorite of all time was one that told a joke that went something like: "Did you hear about the typesetter who ran away from everything and joined the circus to be a trapeze artist? He changed his name to Ultra Bodoni." Next to that or in the next frame was the other character facing the reader and explaining "Printers' inside joke."

Paul
09-10-2006, 01:45 PM
does this parlor trick sometimes, cutting characters out of rubylith from memory, in the wink of an eye. I have a Goudy ampersand he did at Antwerp

I saw him do this once in San Francisco, but I didn't end up with one of the examples.

Paul
09-10-2006, 01:47 PM
I ordered a turkey and Helvetica sandwich.

The sandwich guy was perplexed, but my friend and I were hysterical.

mxh

Did you get Havarti, or Bitstream Swiss?

ElyseC
09-10-2006, 06:53 PM
Did you get Havarti, or Bitstream Swiss?<GROAN>