About RePublic Font Family
In 1955 the Czech State Department of Culture, which was then in charge of all the publishing houses, organised a competition amongst printing houses and generally all book businesses for the design of a newspaper typeface. The motivation for this contest was obvious: the situation in the printing presses was appalling, with very little quality fonts existing and financial resources being too scarce to permit the purchase of type abroad. The conditions to be met by the typeface were strictly defined, and far more constrained than the ones applied to regular typefaces designed for books. A number of parameters needed to be considered, including the pressure of the printing presses and the quality of the thin newspaper ink that would have smothered any delicate strokes.
Rough drafts of type designs for the competition were submitted by Vratislav Hejzl, Stanislav Marso, Frantisek Novak, Frantisek Panek, Jiri Petr, Jindrich Posekany, and the team of Stanislav Duda, Karel Misek and Josef Tyfa. The committee published its comments and corrections of the designs, and asked the designers to draw the final drafts. The winner was unambiguous — the members of the committee unanimously agreed to award Stanislav Marso’s design the first prize. His typeface was cast by Grafotechna (a state-owned enterprise) for setting with line-composing machines and also in larger sizes for hand-setting. Regular, bold, and bold condensed cuts were produced, and the face was named Public.
In 2003 we decided to digitise the typeface. Drawings of the regular and italic cuts at the size of approximatively 3,5 cicero (43 pt) were used as templates for scanning. Those originals covered the complete set of caps except for the U, the lowercase, numerals, and sloped ampersand. The bold and condensed bold cuts were found in an original specimen book of the Rude Pravo newspaper printing press. These specimens included a dot, acute, colon, semicolon, hyphens, exclamation and question marks, asterisk, parentheses, square brackets, cross, section sign, and ampersand.
After the regular cut was drafted, we began to modify it. All the uppercase letters were fine-tuned, the crossbar of the A was raised, E, F, and H were narrowed, L and R were significantly broadened, and the angle of the leg and arm of the K were adjusted. The vertex of the M now rests on the baseline, making the glyph broader. The apex of the N is narrower, resulting in a more regular glyph. The tail of Q was made more decorative; the uppercase S lost its implied serifs. The lowercase ascenders and descenders were slightly extended. Corrections on the lower case a were more significant, its waist being lowered in order to improve its colour and light. The top of the f was redrawn, the loop of lowercase g now has a squarer character. The diagonals of the lowercase k were harmonised with the uppercase K. The t has a more open and longer terminal, and the tail of the y matches its overall construction. Numerals are generally better proportioned. Italics have been thoroughly redrawn, and in general their slope is lessened by approximatively 2–3 degrees. The italic upper case is more consistent with the regular cut. Unlike the original, the tail of the K is not curved, and the Z is not calligraphic. The italic lower case is even further removed from the original. This concerns specifically the bottom finials of the c and e, the top of the f, the descender of the j, the serif of the k, a heavier ear on the r, a more open t, a broader v and w, a different x, and, again, a non-calligraphic z. Originally the bold cut conformed even more to the superellipse shape than the regular one, since all the glyphs had to be fitted to the same width. We have redrawn the bold cut to provide a better match with the regular. This means its shapes have become generally broader, also noticeably darker. Medium and Semibold weights were also interpolated, with a colour similar to the original bold cut. The condensed variants’ width is 85 percent of the original. The design of the Bold Condensed weights was optimised for the setting of headlines, while the lighter ones are suited for normal condensed settings. All the OpenType fonts include small caps, numerals, fractions, ligatures, and expert glyphs, conforming to the Suitcase Standard set.
Over half a century of consistent quality ensures perfect legibility even in adverse printing conditions and on poor quality paper. RePublic is an exquisite newspaper and magazine type, which is equally well suited as a contemporary book face.