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The Witch screenplay book, A24

Contributed by Blythwood on Aug 18th, 2020. Artwork published in .
The Witch screenplay book, A24 1
Source: A24/Actual Source. License: All Rights Reserved.

New England, 1630: William and Katherine try to lead a devout Christian life, homesteading on the edge of an impassible wilderness, with five children. When their newborn son mysteriously vanishes and their crops fail, the family begins to turn on one another. 'The Witch’ is a chilling portrait of a family unraveling within their own sins, leaving them prey for an inconceivable evil. — IMDb

An edition of the screenplay for horror film The Witch (2015) uses period typefaces DTL Flamande (with its roman caps) and DTL GrosCanon, both based on the work of Hendrik van den Keere. They are complemented by ABC Monument Grotesk Mono. Designed by Actual Source for film production company A24. Commentary: Creative Review, company website, designer JP Haynie on Twitter (and more in response to this post).

Their religious beliefs may indirectly connect the movie characters with Van den Keere’s type: Mayflower passenger and devoted Puritan Separatist William Brewster before emigrating to Massachusetts was a printer in Leiden, printing with types from Arent Corsz Hogenacker. Hogenacker had succeeded to part of Van den Keere’s type foundry. I don’t know if Brewster used van den Keere’s types (see this extremely thorough two-part article by John A. Lane on Hogenacker: part 1, part 2, although it’s focused on types Hogenacker engraved himself). Hogenacker’s foundry building still stands at number 86 Haarlemmerstraat in Leiden (more photos) with a 1630 statue he commissioned of Laurens Coster.

The Witch screenplay book, A24 2
Source: A24/Actual Source. License: All Rights Reserved.
The Witch screenplay book, A24 3
Source: A24/Actual Source. License: All Rights Reserved.
The Witch screenplay book, A24 4
Source: A24/Actual Source. License: All Rights Reserved.
The Witch screenplay book, A24 5
Source: A24/Actual Source. License: All Rights Reserved.

5 Comments on “The Witch screenplay book, A24”

  1. An interesting (and first) Use for DTL Flamande and DTL GrosCanon, thank you!

    The text mentions Van den Keere as a typefoundry. He is known for his work as a punchcutter, cutting mostly textura and roman type. “In 1568, he began working as a freelance punchcutter for one of the first printers in Europe who worked on an industrial scale: Christophe Plantin in Antwerp.” [Jan Middendorp, Dutch Type]. From 1570 until his untimely death in 1580, he was the main or sole supplier of punches for Plantin. Apart from punches and matrices, Van den Keere would also deliver other services, as can be found in the archives of the Plantin-Moretus Museum: he would also adjust matrices by other punchcutters to prepare them for casting type; historian Guy Hutsenbaut found an invoice for a font for musical notation that was purchased from Van den Keere in combination with a custom(ised) mould. In short: Van den Keere’s activities were versatile and may have included casting, but he was not the owner of a typefoundry as we now know it [see comment below: he Van den Keere ran a foundry].

    In The Golden Compasses Leon Voet writes: “In the pioneering days of printing the typographer had to cut his own punches, strike matrices, and cast the type – or at least have these operations carried out in his own workshop under his direct control. By the end of the fifteenth century, however, specialization had begun to develop and professional punch-cutters and type-founders appeared. At first one craftsman would practise both skills and it remained normal for punch-cutters to have a foundry for casting type. However, there were already type-founders in the sixteenth century who hardly ever created their own type designs but were content to work with matrices prepared by their more skilful colleagues.”

    For those who want to have a quick introduction to the basics of metal type production, this series of four short videos by punchcutter/historian Stan Nelson is a great start: Punchcutting; Tempering Punches and Striking Matrices; Casting Type; Dressing Type.

  2. The combination of roman capitals with textura lowercase may look hip or experimental — it probably looked equally off-beat in 1571, when “Plantin combined Van den Keere’s Grasses capitales de 3 regles mediane with the lowercase of the Canon Flamande in his Psalterium from 1571.” [DTL]. Plantin’s composition was not widely adopted or imitated by himself or other printers.

    Aesthetics aside, combining roman with textura is no strange thought at all. Below a fragment about Van den Keere’s Gros Canon Romain and Canon Flamande from On the origin of patterning in moveable Latin type. In this dissertation, DTL founder Prof. Frank E. Blokland seeks proof for the idea that the underlying structure and production methods of textura type were re-used for roman typefaces. Read more on the project website.

  3. Hi Mr. Sluiter, thanks for the additional perspective! That’s interesting: Van den Keere is best-known to people interested in font design as a punchcutter, but I had the understanding that he ran a type foundry besides this: he cast type for Plantin from matrices that were Plantin’s property, and Harry Carter’s A View of Early Typography writes that he was Plantin’s only source of cast type for the last decade of his life. He owned matrices himself, as well as those of Plantin’s he cast type from: according to Carter he personally owned at the time of his death “twenty-seven sets, mostly from his own punches but also three for romans by Garamond, six for italics and one for music by Granjon, and two romans by Ameet Tavernier”. He apparently took over his family’s type foundry which they owned from 1553, according to John A. Lane’s amazing book Early Type Specimens in the Plantin-Moretus Museum. Unfortunately, most sources available to me on him focus on his business for Plantin, and don’t really discuss whether he is known to have had any external business as a typefounder, although as Lane notes “we would know virtually nothing of him” without Plantin’s records. But you might be able to find more–when I decided to write a Wikipedia article on him recently (improvements welcomed!) I was hampered by the fact that many of the best sources on Plantin and van den Keere are hard to get hold of outside the Low Countries and with lockdown not practical for me to see. Or simply reprint original letters and contracts from the period in sixteenth-century French or Dutch which is a bit beyond me to understand!

  4. Hi Blythwood, thanks! I stand corrected. I discussed wih someone at Plantin if Van den Keere had/was/ran a foundry, but we did not have books at hand to verify. The only thing we found besides the article of Voet was that in his early years, Plantin owned only few matrices: this would indicate that he did at that time not cast his own type. Later on, Plantin had accumulated an impressive amount of strikes, matrices etcetera. Interesting to read that Van den Keere cast type from his collection!

  5. Yes-everything by John A. Lane is absolutely essential reading if you’re interested in the history of typography. Having attended a talk by him, all I can say is anyone able to give people a platform to write interesting things about fonts needs to talk to him urgently-he has things he’s been interested in for decades he’s had trouble getting funding to publish, for instance on the mysterious Nicolaes Briot-Briot apparently pioneered type-founding in Amsterdam, but since not a single specimen from his foundry survives the only approach to understanding his work is to pore over books published by people believed to be his clients. I know he’s also done some absolutely fascinating unpublished research on the earliest sans-serifs which hasn’t been published. His writing is always brilliantly researched and beyond meticulous-that book even has a handy index of which stamps the Plantin-Moretus used when, and a reference currency conversion section in case you’re getting confused by the prices. He is a wonderful writer.

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