Scripps College Old Style is a custom old-style serif designed by Frederic Goudy. The family has been expanded over the years to include italics, small caps and finally transitioned to digital type.
Scripps College Old Style HistoryOpen
The story of Scripps College Old Style is a heartwarming and inspiring chronicle about a young librarian, a handful of students, a wealthy grandmother, a dedicated educator — and two eminent American type designers.
The story begins in 1938, when Dorothy Drake, the newly hired librarian at Scripps College, a small women’s college in southern California, became an impromptu dinner companion of the American type designer Fred Goudy. A business associate in Los Angeles had previously invited Goudy to visit him but was unexpectedly called away. The businessman was also a friend of the librarian and asked her to entertain the famed type designer in his absence. Goudy found Drake, intelligent, enchanting — and a true lover of type. They became fast friends.
Shortly after she met Goudy, Drake had the idea of asking the designer to create a special typeface for Scripps. She approached him with the idea, but Goudy’s design fee, although dramatically discounted, was much more than the college could afford. Undaunted, Drake continued to lobby for money to commission the design. At times she would almost reach her goal, only to be disappointed when college administrators decided to use available funds for more “important and tangible” purchases. After three years, she virtually gave up on the dream.
Then in 1941, following one of Goudy’s visits to the college, a group of students gathered after hours to discuss the designer’s presentation. As the discussion grew from a tentative simmer to a roiling boil, one of the students blurted out, “I bet my grandmother would give a Goudy font to the college!” Drake’s original idea found new life.
The only problem was: the student’s grandmother had a $1000 gift in mind, not the $2800 Goudy had requested for the design of a proper type family. Goudy eventually agreed to create a font for the smaller sum. This fee, however, would only buy a single roman font. Seven months later, the first proofs of the design were pulled.
It was four more years before the college finally commissioned the design of the italics and small caps. These were completed just before Goudy’s death in 1947. Scripps now had a roman, an italic and a set of small caps — a modest but reasonable resource for most of the college’s printing needs.
By the 1990s, the original Goudy fonts had become prized — but they were seldom-used antiques. Scripps needed digital versions of the metal fonts. This goal posed two immediate challenges: finding a designer familiar with letterpress printing who was skilled at creating digital fonts, and locating the money to commission the designer’s services.
The first challenge was the easiest to conquer. “Sumner Stone was my first and only choice,” recalls Kitty Maryatt, the current curator of the Scripps College Press. “I knew he had letterpress experience, was an accomplished calligrapher, and that his typeface designs were simply exquisite. The choice was easy.”
The second challenge was more difficult. It took the dedication, hard work and tenacity of Maryatt to bring the beautiful Goudy designs into the twenty-first century. While Stone was eager to begin work on the project, the college had no more money for new typeface designs in the 1990s than it did in the1930s. Years of lobbying, cajoling and letter writing were necessary to obtain the college’s approval for the design project.
Once she had the necessary funding, the design brief posed yet a third challenge. Goudy had provided two sizes of type to the Press: 14 point and 16 point. Which would serve as the foundation for Stone’s work? In addition, the Goudy fonts were quite worn. Should Stone use printed samples as his design master, or base his work on the origin
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