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.""
In 1982, however, Arnholm decided that his first Jenson design had not captured all the qualities of the original, and that it yearned for companion italic to complete the family. For his model he went back to the 1470 Eusebius. This time Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia provided the source. Arnholm was able to do extensive study of the Jenson type, photograph the book at very close range, and make hundreds of trial drawings just to get a proper “feel” for the type. Next came more drawings, and test fonts; then edit, rework, and more test fonts. The final result, after countless hours of labor, is ITC Legacy.
Many designers might be satisfied with a successful design revival of a classic type style, but not Mr. Arnholm. While working on the Jenson type he became intrigued with the concept of a companion series of sans serif faces having the essential skeletal structure of the old style serif types in his revival. A large pad of tracing paper and a day’s worth of trial renderings later, Arnholm was satisfied that his idea was sound.
It wasn’t until he was in the final stages of development of the serif design, however, that he began to concentrate in earnest on the sans serif design. Although both are based on the same design model, ITC Legacy Serif would be classified as an exceptionally sensitive interpretation of an earlier style, while ITC Legacy Sans could only be called an original design statement.