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Old 05-13-2006, 01:30 PM   #1
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Default Dutch Type by Jan Middendorp

Dutch Type is a beautifully printed, well-bound, large-format, very expensive book ($92.50 U.S. at Amazon). Although I have not finished reading every word, I am prepared to say that this is an important book and — even though it follows that nasty practice of failing to indent paragraphs — worth every penny.

Jan Middendorp’s text opens with a brief history of early type design and printing in the Low Countries, settling the Coster myth very nicely, discussing early pioneer S.H. de Roos, the art deco new typography periods, and then (by page 50), begins to get down to the important Dutch type designers.

There are a lot of them, including Dick Dooijes, Sem Hartz, Wim Crouwel, Chris Brand, Gerrit Noordzij, Bram de Does, Gerard Unger, Rudy Vandeerlans, Petr van Blokland, Albert-Jan Pool, Jelle Bosma, Frank E. Blokland, Peter Matthias Noordzij, Luc(as) de Groot, Peter Verheul, Evert Bloemsma, Fred Smeijers, Martin Majoor, Peter Bil’ak, and more. I just grabbed a few names from the contents page — there are many more designers whose work is described and shown in this book of 320 (roughly 8.5 X 11-inch) pages.

Many of the chapters include not only examples of the designer’s commercial fonts but student work and drawings, helping to show the evolution of the design. This is not just a pretty book designed to help type designers sell more fonts — it has a great deal of information about the people and the work. There is an index of names and another of type designs; and there is a large bibliography.

Dutch Type is well set (except for the missing paragraph indents ) in OurType Versa by Peter Verheul with OurType Fresco Sans by Fred Smeijers on the cover.

This book fills in many blanks in the rapidly growing list of typefaces designed since 1990 (or so). You may be surprised to see how many new faces are from the Dutch.

It would be fabulous if similar books could be written for the rest of living type designers producing an enduring record of all this activity. We could only hope that those books might be as well-done and useful as Middendorp’s.

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