Gaël Faure and Raphaël Verona Swiss reinvention of Doves Type
It’s not often a font gets celebrity status, but the Doves typeface has certainly achieved world-wide notoriety due the shenanigans surrounding its loss and recent rediscovery” wrote the iconic graphic designer Graham McCallum some months ago. “In an almost Gothic tale involving a rights feud between the Hammersmith based printers T.J. Cobden-Sanderson and his partner Emery Walker, the original matrices were nocturnally cast into the Thames between 1916 and 1917 by Cobden-Sanderson” he added. After last November, when, with the help of divers from Port of London Authority, designer Robert Green managed to recover 150 original metal letterpress blocks updating a digital facsimile of the typeface he had first issued in 2013 so that Doves Type could live on, lots have happened. The world of typography used this available to use digital facsimile of the Doves Type as inspiration for their own versions, paying tribute to the feud, and one such version is Thames Capsule.
“Green’s Doves Type restoration is apparently based on the Doves Letterpress appearance once printed: rounded terminations and rounded junctions, among other details” says co-founder of studio Faure & Verona, Raphaël Verona. Based in Lausanne, Switzerland, he and his partner in crime Gaël Faure, in an effort to “enhance the Art & Craft qualities of the original letterpress, to develop each letter specificities instead of standardise its shapes”. By adding “wood-cut like details that match with the intentions we alleged to Emery Walker” the duo honor the font's early 20th-century character. “Our idea was to give this typeface a contemporary flavor, not a romantic one because we were convinced that its humanistic-based shapes could be merged together with contemporary details” says Raphaël on their updated version of Doves Type. “I hope that the platform we created for the typeface illustrates enough our intentions to create an atmosphere around the font: to link together its history and its contemporary design aspects. More than a simple typeface, we wanted to sell its history.”
A tale that started back in 1990, when T.J. Cobden-Sanderson asked Emery Walker to join his private press, based in Hammersmith. The Press was considered to be a significant contributor to the Arts and Crafts movement, with the founders associated with the likes of William Morris. But things took a turn in 1909, with the two founders in dispute and the partnership on the brink of dissolution.
“We created an atmosphere around the font: to link together its history and its contemporary design aspects. We wanted to sell its history”
The Doves Type matrices were destroyed by Cobden-Sanderson in March 1913, when he threw them into the Thames from Hammersmith Bridge. He then began to destroy the types, which took him until January 1917, after 170 trips to the river. Fast-forward to 2015, these curves still have a lot to say. For more background about Doves Type check out this BBC News report where Tom Beal met Robert Green and talked to him about the origins of his obsession to bring back from oblivion a lost type from its watery resting place.