Saturday, March 2, 2013
From Foundry To Font
The image opening this post displays a couple characters from a font that I have created for use on my website, motherbedford.com. I use it as an embedded font on my webpages. An embedded font is a font set which exists as a (.ttf) file on the server on which my page files also exist, and to which I refer in the html (hyper text markup language) coding of certain of my webpages so that it will display on any visitor's computer, regardless of whether they have it loaded. The html coding of my pages includes directions for a variety of browsers to 'read' the font and display it appropriately.
Since I have identified my "motherbedford.ttf" font as a serif based font, a computer whose browser can't display it will choose another serif based font, such as New Times Roman or Georgia. But even if any visitor's particular browser is unable to 'read' the font that I have embedded in my pages' html coding, the text will still be displayed ~ albeit in whatever font the visitor has loaded on his/her computer.
The reason I have chosen this subject for a post on my blog, is to enable me to talk a little about font.
The word came into existence in the late 16th Century. Printers in Great Britain borrowed a French word: fonte, which had been derived from the word fondre, which meant 'to melt'. The word was used in relation to the process of casting molten metal in a foundry. Prior to that time, the printing industry had been revolutionized by the invention of moveable type. This process involved setting a page's text using individual letters cast in metal, each individual letter of which could be used over and over again (at least until the edges of the letter began to wear too much, causing distortion when printed). As the individual cast metal type became too worn out for use, they would be melted once again and cast as new letter type.
Any single printer probably used only one or two sets of cast type, although he would probably have a number of sizes of each set. Because he would have more than one set, the printer needed a way to differentiate between each. And that is where the word font took on its most prominent role. The particular style, or look, of a set of type became known as its font, and each font was given its own name, such as Fraktur, Roman, Bembo and so forth.
Even after printers progressed beyond using cast metal type for setting their page text, the word font continued to be used to denote the style of the characters (both letters and numerals). And as the printing processes moved into the realm of word processors and computers, the idea of possessing and using a variety of fonts remained as vibrant and lively as always.
What's amazing is that someone such as myself can create, use and embed (into webpages) my own designed font ~ without my having had to melt down any metal to cast type in order to do so.