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By Frank Heine

This text was first published in 2001 in the type specimen booklet for Dalliance.

In 1996/97 our company was designing the displays for a historical museum in a small town in southwest Germany using the newly introduced Mrs Eaves typefaces. The subjects reached back to prehistoric and Celtic times, up through the Middle Ages, Napoleonic times, the Industrial age, World War II, and ended in the mid-1970s. As the material trickled in, we started work on the first topic, "Maria Theresia and Kaiser Joseph II of Austria," using typefaces appropriately reflecting those times. Other subjects included the burning of heretics in the Middle Ages and the local development of National Socialism, where we learned that this particular town also housed one of the 163 sub-camps of the Dachau concentration camp, and was a site where parts for the V2-missiles were assembled.

These subjects aroused serious discussions at our office about further use of the chosen fonts. For instance, could the typeface we picked be considered an inappropriate choice? Should we maintain its humanistic forms while dealing with historical facts describing such inhuman acts? Should we change the typeface from topic to topic, or would the change of fonts within the collection be interpreted as a graphic gimmick?

We finally decided to apply the Mrs Eaves fonts throughout the entire collection, as the extensive use of small caps for proper nouns and italics for quotes created a sort of lexical style providing some distance between form and content.

These discussions about the meaning and intricacies of typeface design were on my mind when I came across the handwriting on a map of a battle that had taken place at Ostrach in southwest Germany in 1799. Though 4,400 men died on that day of March the 21st, this "meeting" between the Habsburg Coalition and France was only a footnote in war campaigns that lasted from 1792 through 1805. What struck me, though, was how the elegant handwriting on the map, common for its time, stood in stark contrast to the horrific content. From a formal point of view, I was impressed by the imperfections of the handwriting and by the compromises the writer had to make in lettering the map, which were intensified by a rough photocopy quality, as we did not have access to the original map.

I preferred this poor quality reproduction over the more common perfected hand lettering art of those times, because it allowed more freedom as an inspirational source - a better starting point for developing one's own ideas than a well defined existing lettering sample.

Handwriting detail of First Lt. Aldegonde, Gen. quartermaster staff, circa 1799.

Nearly four years after discovering the source, I finally found the time to complete the design of Dalliance, which took me from the summer of 2000 to February 2001. The process of detecting the concrete letterforms was quite evolutionary, starting with the construction of a monoline to describe the basic form and using this to create the desired minimum stroke weight, then adding the heavier parts.

The outline sketches served as background layers to approximate and reveal the final shapes. Sometimes the final character shimmered somewhere between these multiple outline structures. This digital method of inventing/refining the curves and character proportions by the overlapping of digital sketches worked well as a substitute for real paper sketches, which were never created during the process of designing Dalliance.

Once the basic character shapes were determined, the letters were fine-tuned by applying different stylistic ideas, making some forms more modern or unusual compared to the original source:

When the design of Dalliance Script was well underway, the question was raised whether a roman companion could be created in order to turn Dalliance into a fully functional typeface family. The attempt to combine a roman and script seemed adventurous at first, but the font developed quite easily and harmoniously from the script model. To make the roman a more legible typeface, some script forms could not be transferred directly (such as m, n and most of the upper case letters), but many characters could be drawn quite closely to the italic model, yielding a comprehensive look and distinct character.

Comparison of Roman & Script

Since the fonts were optimized for legibility at small sizes, a script variant for display sizes became necessary. Larger sizes are set tighter, but due to the connecting links between script characters, this cannot be achieved by tracking. To resolve this, the connectors in the Script Display have been adjusted. Script Regular and Script Display share the same proportions and can be mixed.

Comparison of Script & Script Display

To enhance the vitality and individuality of both the Script and Roman, many common and some uncommon ligatures are provided, as well as alternate characters:

To further individualize the font, and for use on special occasions, the Ligatures and Fractions include decorative variants of characters and helpful symbols:

For a broad spectrum of numeral applications, there are five sets of numerals in Dalliance Script and six sets in Dalliance Roman:

Old Style
Small Caps

Tabular numerals = lining monospaced numbers.
Superior and Inferior numerals for custom fractions or footnotes.

Additional math symbols can be found in the Fractions fonts. Their vertical position is adjusted for use with lining and tabular numerals. The dotted line can also be set for marking fill-in spaces:

The additional Flourishes font* offers a complementary source for enriching texts with ornaments, flowers, rules and lines. The left- and right-hand elements can be easily set in various combinations. Most of these characters can be connected to any Dalliance Script character starting or ending with a link:

* Created with inspiration from the 1956 Dover release "Handbook of Early Advertising Art, Typographical Volume." The floral ornaments are based upon the specimens of Wagnerische Buchdruckerei, Ulm, Germany 1765 - 1777, reprinted 1982.


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