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Eric Gill and Pilgrim typeface

06/11/2010

Among the stack of books I bought from the secondhand bookstore that’s closing was a 1953 Penrose album. Penrose are fabulous volumes published yearly as a guide to that year’s graphic arts. They went from the early part of the 20th century through to the 1980s (I think).typeface

They are sumptuously illustrated and have articles by some of the most eminent typographers of the time. In this volume (which I did not have) is an article about Gill’s Pilgrim typeface by Robert Harling. This face was produced, the article says, 12 years after Gill’s death.

Manufactured by Liontype (the rivals to Monotype) it is a traditional roman.

Harling writes: “Here in Pilgrim we have all the recognisable and admirable Gill qualities. His touch is in very curve and line. Here is yet another of his felicitous essays in the unending quest for the perfect alphabet. The ceaseless and never monotonous preoccupation with the curve of the tail to the upper-case R, the distribution of solid and void in the lower case a and g and so on.”

The face was first named Bunyan, and used exclusively by Gill. After his death the design was bought from his widow, Mary, and the punches, patterns and matrices from his son-in-law Rene Hague. Linotype then adapted the face for machine setting, and also added an italic, sketches for which Gill had not completed.

Harling notes that the face was to be used in a limited edition run of Evelyn Waugh’s book, The Holy Places, published by the Queen Anne Press in the winter of 1953.

 

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