Type Trading Cards: Centaur/Ocean Sans
Centaur was originally designed in 1914, for the Metropolitan Museum, which was part of New York’s Grolier Club. Bruce Rogers drew the design, based on the type of the famous Renaissance printer Nicolas Jenson. Primarily intended to be a titling face, 14 point was the only size that contained a lowercase alphabet. The first use of the Centaur was for a small translation of Maurice de Guérin’s, The Centaur. Although first called “Museum Press Capitals,” the commercial version of Centaur was named after Guérin’s book.
After years of continued requests by several foundries to make Centaur available to the printing trade, Rogers agreed to license the design to Monotype. And, in 1928, he moved to England to work on the adaptation of Centaur to machine–set type. As part of the process, an italic needed to be created to accompany the roman design. Rogers considered himself “an indifferent calligrapher” and persuaded Frederic Warde, who had a earlier produced a chancery italic called “Arrighi,” to permit its use as the italic for Centaur.
To this day, Centaur is generally considered to be one of the most handsome roman typefaces.
Ocean Sans was conceived out of a goal to create a highly distinctive, yet simple, sans serif typeface. A big part of attaining this goal is the, uncommon for a sans serif, relatively high contrast between thick and thin strokes. The face’s designer, Chong Wah, says “The most important criterion in my mind was the need for an obvious contrast between the stroke weights to achieve a fresher and more modern design. The strokes has been optically calculated to be approximately two–thirds the stem weight. This creates a strong contrast while still allowing for setting at small sizes.”
The design is also fairly condensed which makes it space economical for display headlines and narrow columns of text copy. Also unusual for a sans serif design is the design’s cursive italic. “I wanted a true italic to accompany the roman,” says Wah, “because I believe that cursive designs are superior for adding emphasis within text. I also believe that a true italic style lends grace and elegance to a page."
- Allan Haley is Director of Words & Letters at Monotype Imaging. Here he is responsible for strategic planning and creative implementation of just about everything related to typeface designs. He is also responsible for editorial content for the company’s type libraries and Web sites.
- Prior to working for Monotype, Mr. Haley was Principal of Resolution, a consulting firm with expertise in fonts, font technology, type and typographic communication. He was also executive vice president of International Typeface Corporation.
- Mr. Haley is ex officio Chairman of the Board of the Society of Typographic Aficionados, and past President of the New York Type Directors Club. He is highly regarded as an educator and is a frequently requested speaker at national computer and design conferences.
- Mr. Haley is also a prolific writer, with five books on type and graphic communication and hundreds of articles for graphic design publications to his credit.