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Experimental No. 223, a newspaper typeface, designed by W.A. Dwiggins

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From 1926 onwards, beginning with their introduction of the 'Ionic' typeface, the Mergenthaler Linotype composing machine manufacturers, prompted by their director C.H. Griffith, continued to develop the so-called 'Legibility group' of typefaces for newspapers. These types, soon closely copied by their competitors, have indeed 'conquered the world': they practically determine the look of contemporary newspapers. A very large portion of our daily intake of information comes through these types. Within the Linotype company, its principal artist-under-contract, W.A. Dwiggins (author, among other things, of the 'Electra' and 'Caledonia' book faces) objected to the design quality of the 'Legibility group' and proposed solutions of his own. The Dutch typedesigner Gerard Unger has examined the Dwiggins-Gri f fith correspondence kept in the library of the University of Kentucky at Lexington and in the Boston Public Library. He traces the development of Dwiggins's counter-proposals and explains why they did not succeed in driving out the ubiquitous derivates of the Ionic model-a feat, by the way, which Stanley Morison's 'Times New Roman', conceived as a newspaper type but actually today's most successful type for books and periodicals, failed to perform either. - Ed.


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