Two days ago, I playfully suggested posting Jan van Krimpen’s birthday notice on Facebook using his lush Cancelleresca Bastarda type. My (lame) joke hinged on the belief that CB existed only in metal but I was surprised (and pleased) to learn today that type designers Pablo Impallari, Brenda Gallo, and Rodrigo Fuenzalida are working on a digital incarnation of Cancelleresca Bastarda. Pablo describes CB as “possibly one of the finest typefaces in the world” — a claim as debatable as the need for a digital version of this rare, elegant type. (Purists would be loath to see it trivially used, such as on Kleenex boxes and packaging on tins of tuna, etc. Others would be glad of the opportunity to see more of this rare and striking face in action.)
Whatever camp you belong to, this project is worth checking out for a number of reasons: Paolo is inviting the public to “join the project” by downloading beta versions of the font for review and feedback: you can even edit glyphs and post the edits to his website. You can also follow the team’s progress by studying successive specimens of the digital face and comparing them with a high-rez scan of the original.
If you’re not familiar with Jan van Krimpen’s Cancelleresca Bastarda, you’re not alone. It was issued by Enschede in 1934 and I can’t imagine any but the most discerning presses wanting to invest in such an exotic chancery italic. It would be interesting to know how many founts were produced but there can’t have been many, and today founts of CB are as rare as hens’ teeth. Do yourself a favour and check out the high-rez scan of the original (supplied to Paolo by a Benedictine Monk) and some of the digital samples Paolo has produced. Is this one of the finest typefaces in the world?
Above and middle: Jan van Krimpen’s Cancelleresca Bastarda specimen printed from metal. Below: A beta version of the digital revival.
— Paul Razzell