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Pen, print and communication in the eighteenth century$
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Caroline Archer-Parré and Malcolm Dick

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789622300

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789622300.001.0001

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The Serif-Less Letters of John Soane

The Serif-Less Letters of John Soane

Chapter:
(p.215) 14 The Serif-Less Letters of John Soane
Source:
Pen, print and communication in the eighteenth century
Author(s):

Jon Melton

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781789622300.003.0015

This chapter examines the evidence for the architect John Soane as an early pioneer of serif-less lettering in Britain and the progenitor of the sans serif typefaces of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It considers the events that led to Soane’s application of serif-less typography and the reasons he became the principal executor of this radical departure from the roman letter. It also proffers suggestions for why Soane promoted this primitivist letter as desirable for inscriptions on buildings as well as for plans, and elevation and perspective drawings in the neoclassical style. The chapter traces Soane’s early career use of sans serif titling on drawings and importantly documents the earliest known extant sans serif inscriptions still in situ on his architecture.

Keywords:   serif-less lettering, sans serif, typefaces, John Soane, eighteenth century architecture, neoclassical buildings, primitivist

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