About this project
Help me rescue this funky cool typeface from becoming forgotten history!
Cristoforo is my name for a trio of new fonts: two are reviving classic American-Victorian art nouveau metal types by Hermann Ihlenburg: Columbus (1892), Columbus Initials (upright swash capitals) and the italic companion American Italic (1902) and American Italic Initials, while the third font is related symbols and stand-alone swashes that may be useful. You can see specimens of the source typefaces on my blog.
UPDATE: Help me reach the stretch goal(s) of Greek support! Yes, the project was funded at $6400. The first stretch goal of $7,500 meant I’ll be adding support for Central European language support, Reaching $10,000 meant I will do Cyrillic as well.
I was reluctant to add Greek, because Greek lowercase is challenging to do well. But I do like a challenge and it would be cool to have full pan-European language support. So here are the final stretch goals for Cristoforo and what I will add at each new pledge total!
$10,750: Greek caps
$12,000: Greek lowercase
$13,000 full-on polytonic Greek (useful for scholars and pre-1982 book reprints)
See the FAQ below for more details on the stretch goals.
If this project looks familiar, it’s because I tried it on Kickstarter a month ago and only reached 60% of the target, meaning no funding at all happened. But I’m nothing if not tenacious, so I am trying again with newly reconfigured rewards, including new personal-use font licenses at $12, or $24 for all three fonts! Full commercial-use license for all three fonts with all their alternate glyphs and goodies remains at $48. Remember that regular commercial-quality fonts of this level run $30-$35 per font style (e.g. Adobe’s Pro fonts such as my own Hypatia Sans Pro), so a trio could cost you around $100.
If you are not familiar with Kickstarter, scroll down to the FAQ and learn more about how it works.
Why is Cristoforo needed?
Columbus and American Italic were classic typefaces by a master craftsman. But there's never been a decent digital version of these fonts. With Cristoforo, I want to make a pair of professional quality digital fonts, complete both in standard character coverage and in having many assorted alternate letter shapes. For example, the graphic you click on for the video shows the swash alternate versions of C, V and R originally available in Columbus Initials. Cristoforo Regular is slated to have at least 300 glyphs! See more about the extras I am adding in my update to the original project. See the FAQ below for more on quality.
Who should back Cristoforo?
- fans/collectors of classic Americana
- fans/collectors of Victorian-era design as seen anywhere in the world
- graphic designers and typographers
- fans and designers working with/for the Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game
H.P. Lovecraft & Call of Cthulhu
Cristoforo has a huge history here. Its predecessor, Columbus, was the typeface used to create the logo for the Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game, inspired by the horror fiction of H.P. Lovecraft. The Call of Cthulhu RPG first appeared in 1981, and for over a decade Columbus appeared on the covers of not only the game rulebook, but also a couple of dozen supplemental books and adventures. After falling out of use on supplements in the 1990s, it has still continued to be the primary game logo to the present day, with only a couple of brief interruptions. Thus Columbus has an iconic status among many fans of Call of Cthulhu and/or H.P. Lovecraft. The game introduced many to Lovecraft’s fiction. The Call of Cthulhu campaign adventure Masks of Nyarlathotep, which I designed most of the “clues” for, remains the highest-rated campaign or adventure ever published for any role-playing game. Here are a few of the Call of Cthulhu books using Columbus.
What's that black book at the top of the picture, holding the others at a handy angle? I hand bound a copy of the rulebook, hardcover in leather. Why, yes, I am that obsessive. You want that in a type designer, trust me.
Americana & Cracker Jack
Cristoforo also has a key link to classic Americana. Its predecessor, Columbus, was the typeface used as the basis for the original logo for Cracker Jack (the candied peanut and popcorn snack), back in the 1890s. The candy was such a basic part of the baseball stadium experience that it was immortalized in the hit 1908 song, still sung today at most major league baseball games, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game":
“Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd;
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack...”
It’s funny to me that the logo is really a degraded form of the typeface, clearly designed or modified by somebody who didn't understand lettering very well. Letters like “e” and “c” should dip slightly below the flat bottoms of other letters to look the same height, but they don’t... and as a result they look like they are floating a little higher than their neighbors.
Although the logo has since been updated and modernized, the current version still shows the influence of the original letterforms.
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