The Past Inside the Future: Commercial Classics at Five

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Around the turn of the 19th century, a revolution left the world of typography utterly different from what it had been. The explosion of new type styles during this period—including the modern face, the fat face, the slab serif, and the sans serif—reflected new technologies and ways of thinking that set the stage for modern graphic design, and continue to shape our visual language more than two hundred years later. 


Commercial Classics began as an adjunct foundry for historical releases at Commercial Type, and has become an evolving project to research and reinterpret the typefaces of the Industrial Era for designers in another revolutionary era: our own. 


During this journey into the past and back again, we will explore a story of ideas and reactions in type design; the evolution of letterforms within technological and societal currents; learning how to translate the language of history; the joy of archives and the challenges of very large projects; and why the ideal place for a 19th-century English typeface might just be in California.