— ±500 BCEtruscan mono-line engraving the linear form of sans-serif letters are derived from greek letters
— ±200 BCOld Roman letters like the Greek letters, the first Roman stone carved letters were mono-line (equal stroke thickness) and sans-serifs
— ±100 ADIn Rome, mono-line forms give way to thick and thin strokes, drawn on stone with a flat brush or square-cut tool, mimicking calligraphy
— 1723First known use of Etruscan sans-serif typeface in
De Etruria regali libri VII
— 1745Calson Etruscan greek letterforms cut for the Oxford University Press
— ±1748An inscription close to the sleeping nymph in the grotto at Stourhead in Wiltshire, uses letter forms with thick and thin strokes but no serifs
Essai sur l’architecture
“Tenons-nous au simple et au naturel”
John Soanedetail from a ‘Design for a British Senate House’ continued to use sans-serif letters on his drawings and architectural designs
“It has been suggested that this letter was the origin of all the sanserifs of the 19th and 20th centuries, from the Caslon ‘Egyptian’ to Futura, Univers and their descendents.”
Valetin Haüy— Haüy system embossed form of sans-serif type to aide the education of blind children
— 1792James Playfair’s Egyptian room of Cairness House, Aberdeenshire earliest sans-serif in Great Britain
— ±1800 onwardsFat-Faces First designed at the beginning of the century by Robert Thorne, they were used to catch attention on advertisements
Letters from England
“They are simply the common characters, deprived of all beauty and all proportion by having all strokes of equal thickness, so that those which should be thin look as if they had the elephantiasis.”
William Woodproposal for a memorial to Nelson and commander Stuart. The sans-serif lettering is described as
“the earliest Roman character”, which was recommended because it was the least
“susceptible to decay”
— 1816Two Lines English Egyptian by
William Calson IVFirst sans-serif printing type to be sold commercially, however only an uppercase was available.
— 1828Jobbing printers like Bower & Bacon began making more bold sans-serif types to match the demand.
— 1832Two line great primer sans-serif by
Vincent FigginsThe term sans-serif is here used for the first time.
— 1834Five line Pica sans-serif by
Vincent FigginsSeven line Grotesk by First lower case type available for printing
Thorowgood, here the term grotesk appears for the first time.
— 1838English two line Sans-Surryphs Two Lines English Egyptian relaunched by
Blake, Garnett foundryin Sheffield
— 1880Royal Grotesk —
Ferdinand Theinhardt (1820—†1909)four sans-serif fonts for the publications of the Royal Prussian Academy of Sciences in Berlin Later reissued as Akzidenz-Grotesk Mager
— 1881Halbfette Kursiv Grotesk first typeface released by
J. G. Schelter & Giesecke foundryafter shifting their type production to the american system
— 1882Schlanke Grotesk
J. G. Schelter & Giesecke foundrylater reused as Akzidenz-Grotesk schmal fett
— 1886Schmale Buecher-Grotesk later reused in the Akzidenz-Grotesk family
— 1887After adopting the american typefounding system
J. G. Schelter & Giesecke foundryshow redesigned and refined cuts of several sans-serif typefaces which they had already released in the 1860s in similar form. They were the Schmale Steinschrift, the Fette Steinschrift and the Schmale fette Steinschrift
“Sanserifs or grotesques; which have no serifs”
— 1890Breite Grotesk —
J. G. Schelter & Giesecke foundry
— 1898Akzidenz-Grotesk First appears as Accidenz-Grotesk, in an advertisement by
H Berthold Berlin & Bauer & Co StuttgartThis first typeface, originates from the Royal Grotesk Light that had been cut by
Hermann Bertholdtakes over the
Theinhardt Type Foundryand integrates
Royal Groteskinto the Akzidenz-Grotesk family, giving it the name
The Haas Foundry of Switzerland release their Haas Grotesk, based on the Akzidenz-Grotesk. This typeface in turn inspired the Neue Haas-Grotesk.
Harry Carterexplains the dislike of sans-serif typefaces:
“Its earlier monumental associations were discarded as it came to be increasingly used for the humblest purposes. Its legibility and durability in wear fitted it for the printing of cartons, wrappers, labels, and similar trade purposes, and thus it earned a certain discredit among those who cared for fine printing and fine types”
Günter Gerard Lange (1921—†2008), the artistic director of Berthold foundry, starts a project to enlarge the typeface family, adding a larger character set, but retaining all of the idiosyncrasies of the 1898 face.
— 1957Max Miedinger, with the help of Eduard Hoffmann, designs the Neue Haas Grotesk, for the Haas Type foundy in Switzeland. It was based on Grotesk faces from the early 20th century, such as the Schelter-Grotesk and Haas-Grotesk. The aim was to create a clean and refined version of these typefaces with a wide variety of uses. Univers, a sans-serif typeface designed by Adrian Frutiger, is released by Deberny & Peignot foundry. This same year, under the direction of Günter Gerald Lange, Berthold cut Series 57 (and the following year Series 58) of Akzidenz-Grotesk, which unified the differernt fonts into a more coherant type family.
— 1960The Neue Haas Grotesk is renamed Helvetica, for marketing reasons.
— 1960sUnder the direction of Günter Gerard Lange, Berthorld added AG Medium Italic, AG ExtraBold, AG Italic, AG ExtraBold Condensed & Italic and AG Super to the family.
— 1966Akzidenz-Grotesk was also marketed under the name Standard by Letraset, and in 1966 it was chosen tu be used in the redesigning of the signage of the New York City Subway.
— 1993Bankruptcy of the Berthold foundry.
— 2001Lange helps Berthold complete the Akzidenz-Grotesk series with the additions of AG light italic, Super Italic, light condensed, condensed, medium condensed, extrabold italic, light extended italic, extended italic and medium extended italic.
Akzidenz-Grotesk Proin open-type format