In 1458, Charles VII sent the Frenchman Nicolas Jenson to learn the craft of movable type in Mainz, the city where Gutenberg was working. Jenson was supposed to return to France with his newly learned skills, but instead he traveled to Italy, as did other itinerant printers of the time. From 1468 on, he was in Venice, where he flourished as a punchcutter, printer and publisher. He was probably the first non-German printer of movable type, and he produced about 150 editions. Though his punches have vanished, his books have not, and those produced from about 1470 until his death in 1480 have served as a source of inspiration for type designers over centuries. His Roman type is often called the first true Roman." Notable in almost all Jensonian Romans is the angled crossbar on the lowercase e, which is known as the "Venetian Oldstyle e.""
Based on a very old typeface, ITC Legacy Sans has an impressive historical background. The Roman style fonts that we are all so very familiar with these days can be attributed to the hard work of Nicolas Jensen in his role as a printer. Jensen also had an illustrious career as a type founder influencing other fonts that we commonly see such as Garamond and Aldus. The fact that his work has been developed again and again for over 500 years is testament to the quality and understanding of what makes typefaces easy to read. His style later became known as “Venetian oldstyle”.
Jensen was master of the Royal Mint in France and also owned book trading companies – his whole career involved working with words, lettering styles and typefaces. His philosophy was dissimilar to other typographers who usually sought to replicate handwritten texts. Jensen was very keen to introduce a good level of readability into his printed works so came up with typefaces that were much easier on the eyes than the norm of the day. It is for that reason that we still use those basic design principles in much of the fonts designed today.
Ronald Arnholm faced quite a challenge in producing a font based on the work of Jensen; not purely from a graphic design perspective but in retaining the spirit of the original typographer who had a strong desire to make books easier to read.
Ronald Arnholm, the designer of ITC Legacy Sans has had a long-term relationship with this very old typeface; as a Yale student studying Graphic Design, he had a type history class in which they covered the 1470 Eusebius, a work which demonstrated the design quality of Jensen’s typeface. Arnholm, impressed by this font, took to designing a modern version and spent several years perfecting it.
From start to finish there were decades of attentive work applied to the ITC Legacy font family. The family was originally named “Jensen Roman” in the Linotype library but dissatisfied, Arnholm went ahead and carried on working with the typeface with ITC, with the newly released name of ITC Legacy Sans. There was no corresponding italic version from Jensen in the original character set so Arnholm took inspiration from the typefaces of Claude Garamond, using their profile as a blueprint for his new ITC Legacy Sans Italic.
ITC Legacy Serif is available a variety of weights: Book, Medium, Bold and Ultra, with italics created for each weight except for Ultra. Small Capitals are available for the Book and Medium weights; old style figures are available in all weights of the family in Roman and italic designs.
Since the Jensen typeface of 1480 was originally designed under the premise that the resulting typeface would be easy to read, Arnholm carried this requirement forward into his ITC Legacy Sans design. This feature of ITC Legacy Sans makes it suitable for print that younger readers can understand easily. In addition this elegant font can be used in marketing material, books and instruction manuals.
Jensen‘s Roman typeface was considered the origin for the Roman typefaces we see today and are characterized among other features by the sloped crossbar on the letter “e”. This feature is known as “Venetian Oldstyle” presumably because Jensen spent quite a large part of his career in Venice. Square versions of this font have also been created to extend this family further still. Ronald Arnholm is now a professor of Art and Graphic Design at the Lamar Dodd School of Art, University of Georgia, Athens. Although many have emulated his work on typefaces similar to Legacy Sans, no-one has really improved upon this design. With the added weights and styles, The ITC Legacy font family is very popular with many graphic designers, and publishers around the world.