Memphis (typeface)

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Memphis (typeface name).png
CategorySlab serif
Designer(s)Dr. Rudolf Wolf
FoundryStempel Type Foundry
Date created1929
Memphis (right) on a metal type specimen sheet.

Memphis is a slab-serif typeface designed in 1929 by Dr. Rudolf Wolf and released originally by the Stempel Type Foundry.[1]

Memphis is a "geometric" slab serif, reflecting the style of German geometric sans-serifs (in particular Futura) which had attracted considerable attention, and adapting the design to the slab serif structure.[2] Its structure is strictly monoline, with a "single-storey" 'a' similar to blackletter or handwriting, in an almost-perfect circle. It was released in several weights and with alternate characters such as swashes, which digitisations have mostly not included.[3]

Memphis has an Egyptian name, in reference to the fact that early slab serifs were often called "Egyptians" as an exoticism by nineteenth-century typefounders.[4][a]

Memphis and other similar designs were popular in printing during the hot metal typesetting period and several foundries brought out similar designs or direct imitations such as Karnak and Stymie in the United States and Rosmini from Nebiolo in Italy, and (more loosely) Rockwell from Monotype.[7] Digital designs in a similar style include Neutraface Slab and Archer.[8][9][10] Memphis itself has been released digitally by Linotype, who licensed it from Stempel, and by Bitstream in a release including condensed weights under the name "Geometric Slabserif 703".[11][12]


  1. ^ "Font Designer: Dr. Robert Wolf". Linotype. Retrieved 4 October 2016.
  2. ^ Tam, Keith. "The revival of slab-serif typefaces in the 20th century" (PDF). University of Reading (MA thesis). Retrieved 3 March 2016.
  3. ^ "Memphis". Fonts in Use. Retrieved 4 October 2016.
  4. ^ Frere-Jones, Tobias. "Scrambled Eggs & Serifs". Frere-Jones Type. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
  5. ^ James Mosley, The Nymph and the Grot: the revival of the sanserif letter, London: Friends of the St Bride Printing Library, 1999
  6. ^ Mosley, James (January 6, 2007), The Nymph and the Grot, an update, archived from the original on June 10, 2014, retrieved June 10, 2014
  7. ^ Jonathan Hoefler; Tobias Frere-Jones. "Sentinel: historical background". Hoefler & Frere-Jones. Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  8. ^ Schwartz, Christian. "Neutraface Slab". Retrieved October 2, 2011.
  9. ^ "Neutraface Slab". House Industries. Retrieved October 2, 2011.
  10. ^ Earls, David John. "Archer". Typographica. Retrieved 11 July 2015.
  11. ^ "Memphis". Linotype.
  12. ^ "Geometric Slabserif 703". Bitstream.
  1. ^ Although, confusingly, the term was first used to refer to sans-serifs, and the earliest slab-serifs were often called "Antiques".[5][6]

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