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Impressed by the quality of the Aachen typeface that was originally designed for Letraset in 1969, Jim Wasco of Monotype Imaging has extended this robust display design to create an entire family.
Designed by Colin Brignall and published by Letraset in 1969, Aachen™ Bold gained a partner in 1977 in the form of Aachen Medium, which was created in collaboration with Alan Meeks. Aachen, a typeface with a particularly striking appearance, has thus already enjoyed considerable popularity over several decades. Derived from the serif-accented Egyptienne fonts dating to the early 20th century, Aachen has serifs that are very solid but considerably shorter than those of its precursor. The incorporated geometrical elements, such as right angles and straight lines, provide the slender letters of Aachen with a slightly technological, stencil-like quality. Despite this, the effect of Aachen is by no means static; its dynamism means that this typeface, originally designed for use in headlines, has come to be used with particular frequency in sport- and fitness-related contexts.
Jim Wasco, for many years a type designer at Monotype Imaging, recognized the potential of Aachen and decided to extend the typeface to create an entire typeface family. He appropriated the existing Aachen Bold in unchanged form and first created the less heavy cuts, Thin and Regular. Wasco admits that he found designing the forms for Thin a particular challenge. It took him several attempts before he was able to achieve consistency within the glyphs for Thin and, at the same time, retain sufficient affinity with the original Aachen Bold. But he finally managed to adapt the short serifs and the condensed and slightly geometrical quality of the letters to the needs of Thin. The weights Light, Book, Medium and Semibold were generated by means of interpolation. Supplemented by Extralight and Extrabold, the new Neue Aachen can now boast a total of nine different weights.
Wasco initially relied on his predilection for genuine cursives in his designs for the Italic cuts. But it became apparent with these first trial runs that the soft curves of cursives did not suit Aachen and led to the loss of too much of its original character. Wasco thus decided to compromise by using both inclined and cursive letters. Neue Aachen Italic is somewhat narrower than its upright counterparts; the lower case 'a' has a closed form while the 'f' has been given a descender, but the letters have otherwise not been given additional adornments.
The range of glyphs available for Neue Aachen has been significantly extended, so that the typeface can now be used to set texts not only in Western but also Central European languages. Wasco has also added a double-counter lowercase 'g' while relying on the availability of alternative letters in the format sets for the enhancement of the legibility of Neue Aachen when used to set texts.
The seven new weights and completely new Italic variants have enormously increased the potential applications of Aachen and the range of creative options for the designer. While the Bold weights have proved their worth as display fonts, the new Book and Regular cuts are ideal for setting text. And the subtlety of Ultra Light will provide your projects with a quite unique flair. The new possibilities and opportunities in terms of design and applications that Neue Aachen offers you are not restricted to print production; you can also create internet pages thanks to its availability as a web font.
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