Perpetua (typeface)

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Monotype Perpetua
Perpetua font sample.png
Category Serif
Designer(s) Eric Gill
Foundry Monotype Corporation
Date released 1929
Variations Perpetua Titling

Perpetua is a typeface that was designed by English sculptor and typeface designer Eric Gill (1882–1940) for Monotype. It is classified as a transitional serif font, designed in the style of fonts such as Baskerville from the late 18th and early 19th century with high stroke contrast, a vertical stress and bracketed serifs. Along with these characteristics, Perpetua bears the distinct personality of Eric Gill's letterforms. Perpetua was designed as a font for books and body text, with a matching Titling style for headings. It was also released in Greek.

Perpetua Roman, Felicity and Perpetua Italic[edit]

Comparison between printed (top) and digital (bottom) versions of Perpetua

Gill began work on Perpetua in 1925 at the request of Stanley Morison, typographical advisor to Monotype.[1][2] Morison sought Gill's talent to design a new typeface for the foundry. By 1929, Perpetua Roman was issued as Monotype Series 239.[3]

Comparison between Perpetua and its display variant, Perpetua Titling (above). The display type has much thinner details.

Gill designed two companion italic faces for Perpetua. The first, a typeface called Felicity, was a sloped roman, in which the regular style is slanted without the different letterforms of italic type. This unusual design decision was primarily due to Morison's opinion that a sloped roman form was preferable to that of cursive italics for use in book text. However, Felicity met with great criticism from Monotype management, who went so far as to declare it "worthless."[4] Perpetua's release was thus halted until Gill designed a second italic, called Perpetua Italic, which Monotype subsequently released alongside Perpetua Roman.[3] Telltale distinctions of the unused Felicity (as seen in the illustration in Harling, page 51) include the absence of a serif at the baseline of the lowercase d and a straight tail on the lowercase y.[3] Overall, Felicity is less sloped than Perpetua Italic.

Perpetua was set in a limited edition of a new translation by Walter H. Shewring of The Passion of Perpetua and Felicity, giving birth to the name of the typeface and its original companion italic. The book was printed in 1929. The same type and illustrations (also done by Gill) for that book subsequently appeared in the Fleuron (number 7) which was edited by Stanley Morison and printed in 1930. Also set in Perpetua and published in 1929 was Art Nonsense and Other Essays written and illustrated by Eric Gill.



  1. ^ Wardle, Tiffany (2000). The story of Perpetua (PDF). University of Reading. p. 5. Retrieved 2009-03-26. 
  2. ^ Harling, Robert (1978). The Letter Forms and Type Designs of Eric Gill (2nd ed.). D. R. Godine (The Typophiles). p. 36. ISBN 0-87923-200-5. 
  3. ^ a b c Harling, Robert (1978). The Letter Forms and Type Designs of Eric Gill (2nd ed.). D. R. Godine (The Typophiles). pp. 36, 48–51. ISBN 0-87923-200-5. 
  4. ^ Monotype Imaging: Perpetua
  5. ^ Identity Works
  6. ^
  7. ^ Penn: Web Style Guide: Typography. Referenced 1/14/2011.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Lancaster Royal Grammar School#School Societies
  10. ^

External links[edit]