Frederic William Goudy
Pinkish, short and sometimes mischievous Frederic W. Goudy was 40 years old whilst he was still keeping the books for a Chicago realtor. At the time he considered himself a failure. But the next 36 years of his life proved him wrong. Born on March 8, 1865, son of a public school teacher, Goudy had manifested his interest for the creative world of lettering since early childhood. At the age of 10, he began producing proficient pencil copies of wood engravings, which he had found in magazines. At the age of 11, Goudy bumped into a street peddler demonstrating a “simple wooden contraption” known as a pantograph, an instrument for copying something on a predetermined scale consisting of four light rigid bars jointed in parallelogram form on any desired scale. “This particular year (1876) sticks out in my memory as the beginning of my art career,” Goudy once said. Starting almost from scratch in his early 40s, he began his impressive career cutting 113 fonts of type, thereby creating more usable faces than any of the seven great inventors of type and books did, from Gutenberg to Garamond. A printer’s printer, the man who used to be art advisor at the Monotype Corporation and type consultant at the Underwood Elliott Fisher undertook the execution of his original designs, from the drawing to the finished metal with extra care.
“The perfect type would be completely invisible” Goody used to say to his line of customers but since invisibility would defeat typography’s pure purpose, his letterforms were simple, to the point. No flamboyant character had any place among his designs.
“Might these be worth five dollars?” he queried Boston’s Dickinson Type Foundry in 1895, when submitting a set of capital letters. The $10 check made him happy. The 116 typefaces he designed, which have remained intact till today, are an absolutely amazing legacy that the “dean of twentieth century designers” has left behind. You’ll have the chance to see them with your own eyes by clicking here.