Aug 25, 2020
While putting together promotional material for us in our drive to move to new premises Firebrand Creative, Stef Musgrove & Mark Offord, discovered the Curwen Sans font. It was lovely to learn of this piece of history associated with Curwen of which we had not been aware and have now used & purchased the license from K-Type to use in our promotional literature.
Curwen Sans is a monoline sans-serif dating from the early twentieth century. Though contemporary with Johnston’s Underground and Gill Sans, and emerging from the same artistic milieu, Curwen Sans was created solely for in-house use at the Curwen Press in London so never achieved a wide audience or recognition.
Harold Curwen studied lettering under Edward Johnston and Eric Gill at the Central School of Art and Crafts, and his typeface is described in Curwen Press publicity from the 1930s as a series “based on an alphabet designed back in 1912”. His capital letters are strikingly modern, geometric monolines that share features with both Johnston’s Underground of 1916 and Gill Sans of 1928. Curwen opted for an overlapping W which was also present in versions of Johnston’s Underground until the late 1930s. He preferred vertical terminals for his curved letters, even the uppercase S, which was a similarly consistent feature of Gill Sans. Although the drawing of Curwen’s capitals might predate the two design classics, Curwen Sans capitals and numerals were not cut in metal type until 1928, and only in a Medium weight.
More information can be found at https://www.k-type.com/reviving-curwen-sans/