click to see the culprit! We hate Copperplate. To us, two humble Graphic Designers in the heart of Texas, it's become one of the most overused and incorrectly used fonts in America. Don't believe us? We're willing to bet that there are at least two items in your house at this very moment that use Copperplate. They are likely food items.

Our mission is to document Copperplate's virus-like domination of the typography world. The photos here include true Copperplate examples, as well as mutant offshoots that are the result of mentally ill desktop publishers.

Most of the posts here are captured in the moment on our mobile phones, hence the "iffy" quality of some pictures. Photo dumps usually occur when we've been using a real camera, so we have to post later; all the photos will then get dumped into one m-m-m-mega post.

Copperplate is EVERYWHERE. See for yourself!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

To clear up some confusion!

The name "Copperplate" generally gives the impression that it was once used in engraving copper. It's a logical concept that is nonetheless completely wrong.

First of all, let's go over some basic typography terms for those of you who wonder "what the hell, it's just a font, get over it."

Typography is the art -- yes, ART -- of making letters, fonts, typefaces, glyphs, etc., look freaking awesome, and no that does not include Photoshop's drop shadow or lens flare.
A serif font is one that has little liney things (they're actually called "serifs") decorating the character strokes, like Times New Roman.
A sans-serif font obviously is sans those, such as Arial.

Copperplate GOTHIC, the quasi-serif font we speak of daily, was never used in the traditional use of copperplating (which was of course an early way of printmaking.) Instead, we can assume it was named thusly due to the tiny serifs, and their resemblance to the fine lines capable in copperplating. The emphasis there is that "gothic" is basically another word for "sans-serif," and while Copperplate Gothic may look like one at first glance, it is in fact a serif.

(Allow me to explain now why Copperplate Gothic should not be used as it normally is in this blog: If a font calls itself gothic, or sans-serif, but is actually a serif, would you not think that perhaps it should not be used at sizes that make the serifs highly visible? Clearly it has a complex about it so let's not plaster it at 200pt, or even 50pt, or really even 25pt. The best use of Copperplate Gothic, in my opinion, is when you have to squint to see the serifs at all.)

Moving right along: Copperplate SCRIPT, on the other hand, IS named because of its use in copper engraving. It's a painstakingly flourishy (is that a word?) type of calligraphy that was actually etched backwards on the copper, with the aid of a mirror. The nature of copper etching is such that the pretty, thin lines of swoopiness will ALWAYS be cleaner and much more perfect than their hand-written counterparts. It should be noted that the font was created as a sort of handwriting firstly, and then used for engraving, rather than having been formed for the sole purpose of copper etching. (Please correct me if any of my Copperplate Script information is misinformed!)

Thusly we really can assume that the tiny hairline serifs on Copperplate Gothic probably were the inspiration for this font's name, and the addition of "Gothic" helped to differentiate from its calligraphic second-cousin of Copperplate Script.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Copperplate isn't so bad! It's great!

Thanks for the great site on the history of the font, but instead of hate, it should be love!