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Jan van Krimpen Project

The dtl Van Krimpen Project dates back to Autumn 1986, when Dutch Type Library founder Frank E. Blokland met Jan van Krimpen’s son Huib van Krimpen (1917–2002) for the first time at the ATypI conference in Basel. There in Switzerland a plan arose for publishing facsimiles of all the typeface drawings by JvK.
        On the 23rd of September 1986, shortly after the conference, Huib van Krimpen sent an extensive letter to Blokland together with the Dutch translation he made of his father’s Memorandum to Monotype from late 1955/ early 1956. The idea was to add the original English version of the Memorandum to the facsimiles together with quotes from On Designing and Devising Type. At that time the Berthold foundry was considering to produce Romulus and Spectrum and Huib van Krimpen suggested in the letter in question to typeset the Memorandum in one of these two new versions.
Preliminary drawing for Sheldon by Jan van Krimpen
At the beginning of the project it was unclear what happened to a couple of the drawings by JvK. There was even doubt if some of these existed still. For instance the location of the Sheldon drawings was unknown. Huib van Krimpen traced these from Monotype to Oxford and from Oxford to Heemstede, where JvK resided. Eventually it became clear that the Sheldon drawings remained in the University library of Amsterdam.
        Huib van Krimpen knew that the nine drawings for Haarlemmer were in possession of Monotype and at the end of the 1980s he brought these back to the Netherlands. Not much later the Haarlemmer drawings were purchased by Blokland and used by him as a basis for the digital version of the typeface.

In the next years Huib van Krimpen and Frank E. Blokland stayed in close contact, but the publication with the facsimiles of the drawings did (so far) not see the daylight. In 1996 the Dutch Type Library published the Dutch translation of the Memorandum. This publication was typeset in dtl Haarlemmer, which production was enthusiastically supported by Huib van Krimpen, who was also very positive about the result. Later on Huib van Krimpen personally granted the Dutch Type Library the rights for the (still ongoing) production of the digital revival of Sheldon.

Jan van Krimpen (1892–1958) is the most famous Dutch type designer of the first half of the twentieth century. His typefaces are admired for their beauty and quality all over the world. For describing the philosophy behind JvK’s typefaces the following quote by Stanley Morison can be used: ‘The history of calligraphy and typography is mainly a matter of tracing variations caused by cultural, linguistic, nationalistic and economic factors’.

A close look at JvK’s type drawings reveals the differences between the designs and the punches cut by Paul Helmuth Rädisch. Also many of the working drawings produced at Monotype show deviations from the originals. For instance the drawings of Romulus show a more classic approach, more Baskerville like, than the final Monotype version. Also there are considerable differences when it comes to weight and contrast between the original drawings and hot metal versions.

The collection of drawings for Haarlemmer comprises nine sheets, which in general measure approximately 35 by 45 centimeters. The height of the capitals is around 73 millimeters. Most of JvK’s type drawings are made on a comparable size, with exception of the designs for Spectrum.

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