An independent archive of typography.
to participate.

Topics

Formats

Typefaces

The Tree of Meaning by Robert Bringhurst

Contributed by John Butler on Aug 30th, 2020. Artwork published in .
    Body copy in Rialto Piccolo dF. Greek text is set in New Hellenic / GFS Neohellenic, and Quadraat Sans is used for page navigation.
    License: All Rights Reserved.

    Body copy in Rialto Piccolo dF. Greek text is set in New Hellenic / GFS Neohellenic, and Quadraat Sans is used for page navigation.

    Anyone who browses this site already owns some copies of Robert Bringhurst’s writing on type, and most also know he’s a first-rate poet. His non-fiction and poetry outside the scope of type often still fall within the scope of language and philology, and already the name of this set “Worth Owning for the Type Alone” neglects the sheer pleasure of reading The Tree of Meaning. In my bookcase, I keep it in the ‘religion’ section.

    I won’t even attempt to describe the subject matter, only that everyone should own and read it. I’m ashamed to say I’m not much of a reader myself, and can probably count on one hand the books I’ve read more than once. This will be one of those. I’m also typically a slow reader, because I prefer non-fiction dense subjects, often technical, but Bringhurst’s prose flows like cognac. After weeks banging my skull against something by Eric Voegelin or Thomas Mann, hoping in vain any of it could ever sink in, Bringhurst’s writing comes to the rescue. Understanding awaits.

    Coming to the point: if you want to own something with body copy set in Rialto, start with this book. I’ve been chasing Rialto for years now, and finding this was worth the wait. The secondary type choices harmonize like anything you’d expect from him. Long runs of poetry in translation show off Rialto’s italic well.

    Book cover, pairing Requiem with lettering (“of”). The sans serif used for the subtitle is yet unidentified.
    Source: https://www.ebay.com License: All Rights Reserved.

    Book cover, pairing Requiem with lettering (“of”). The sans serif used for the subtitle is yet unidentified.

    Table of contents.
    Photo: John Butler. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Table of contents.

    Detail with Quadraat Sans and Rialto Piccolo dF italic.
    Photo: John Butler. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Detail with Quadraat Sans and Rialto Piccolo dF italic.

    A spread showcasing Rialto’s italic.
    License: All Rights Reserved.

    A spread showcasing Rialto’s italic.

    The colophon ends your journey with a delightful pilcrow, ampersand, long-tail Q and some hačeks.
    Photo: John Butler. License: All Rights Reserved.

    The colophon ends your journey with a delightful pilcrow, ampersand, long-tail Q and some hačeks.

    Typefaces

    • Rialto dF
    • Quadraat Sans
    • New Hellenic
    • Requiem
    • unidentified typeface

    Formats

    Topics

    Designers/Agencies

    Artwork location

    5 Comments on “The Tree of Meaning by Robert Bringhurst

    1. Thanks, John! Rialto is beautiful, and criminally neglected.

      The cover shown above is the paperback edition by Counterpoint from 2009. The Tree of Meaning was first published in paperback (2006) and hardback (2007) editions by Gaspereau Press, with covers that are a better match for the interior than the one of Counterpoint (It almost looks like they couldn’t get their hands on Rialto and used Requiem as a substitute.) My copy is Gaspereau’s paperback, and the interior typography appears to be identical.

      Paperback cover with blind-embossed stylized tree, Gaspereau Press

      Hardcover, Gaspereau Press.

    2. could the unidentified sans be Zico Sans?

    3. Thanks for the tip Florian, I will definitely buy those editions instead of the mass market. Everywhere Being Is Dancing is next in my queue to buy.

    4. P.R., Zico Sans is close, but details like the aperture in G or Y and the shape of the comma suggest it’s no cigar.

      John, the books by Gaspereau Press are beautifully designed and produced. See more from this publisher on Fonts In Use.

    5. “of” on the book cover is Olicana Rough from G-Type Foundry.

      fontsinuse.com/typefaces/27…

      g-type.com/fonts/olicana-font

      The yet unidentified sans serif is too small to identify.
      The characters might be small caps in FF Scala Sans.

      fontsinuse.com/typefaces/94…

    Post a comment