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Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Copperplate Abuse

For months now, I have been yelling, whispering, or otherwise saying this small phrase to Jeff whenever we discover an instance of the increasingly pervasive Copperplate Gothic out in the world. And now I declare it official: Copperplate is the most overused and abused of typefaces. I remember a few years ago, when it was new -- or at least newly rediscovered. So refreshing! Sturdy, yet finely incised. But Copperplate has become the go-to font for anyone who wishes to convey that they mean "serious business," regardless of what that business may be. Wedding invitations, the produce aisle of a grocery store, wine labels, etc. I even saw it last weekend in the sign for a tattoo parlor. When tattoo parlors are using a certain typeface to convey their hardcore commitment to the ink-based arts, it is time to take that same typeface out of consideration for use in your fine stationery. Whatever stateliness its lines might imply to the detached observer now drowns in a sea of increasingly ironic context. While there have been, in our time, acceptable uses of Copperplate, its growing ubiquity threatens not only the face's respectability, but the typographic landscape in which we all must live. Our only hope for this typeface is to permit it to revert to the wild, go unused a couple of decades, and then return to circulation as an unknown ingenue, ready to again take the world by storm.

In the meantime, if you absolutely need to have fat letterforms with wee, finial serifs stuck on top, may I recommend Friz Quadrata or Penumbra. They are very similar to Copperplate, but have a bit of distinguishing pizzazz. Albertus might be nice if you want lowercase letters, and are okay with a more human and less engraved-looking touch.

This post brought to you by the Committee For the Prevention of Copperplate Abuse.

posted by Reen |link| 2 comments

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