Sorts Mill Goudy Revives a Classic Font

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Type enthusiast Barry Schwartz believes in font revival and has released several works based on typefaces by the American designer Frederick Goudy. One of these, the free Sorts Mill Goudy, references a design still very much in use today, Goudy Old Style. Like its predecessor, Sorts Mill Goudy is a lovely font for lengthy text jobs (like that unpublished novel currently sitting in a box under the bed).

With a little letterspacing adjusment, Sorts Mill Goudy is a fine font for text.
When something is everywhere, it's often nowhere at all, which is why we were happy to hear that Schwartz had published a second look at Goudy's creation on his Google project site sortsmill. The original font was a carefully crafted work -- drawn, refined and cut in the days when typographers made their own dies and often were the first press folk to run the new castings. With its release by American Type Foundry in 1915, the publishing world gained a fresh, modern serif for use in text and display. Do a bit of digging in your font folder and Goudy Old Style is bound to pop up. It's been digitalized, licensed, and loaded on systems and software packages since the beginning of the digital age. For his revival, Schwartz went to the source, the ATF release.

Sorts Mill Goudy retains the eccentricities of the original. Goudy was heavily influenced by calligraphy and he shows off by turning his characters into, well, characters. We were happy to see that Schwartz stayed true to the spirit of the master. Sorts Mill Goudy's uppercase Q slides down its defining cross line; the lowercase g displays an upward curved ear; dots in the lowercase and punctuation mime the diamonds from a slant-tip pen.

Every typographer brings their own aesthetic decisions to character design, The fun for type geeks is in comparing a source and its inspiration. Goudy was a calligrapher long before he was cutting matrices for type. The delicate joins he excelled at are all but missing in Sorts Mill. The dots in lowercase letters like i and j are more rounded, the weight of both upper and lowercase heavier and the letters overall stance slightly wider. Yet set in text blocks, the overall color of paragraphs on page and screen is lighter in tone with the newer font.

Schwartz's creation favors an open treatment for character pairs. Use Sorts Mill Goudy in light line jobs like poetry, but consider applying a slight negative adjustment to the letter spacing for packed paragraph jobs.

Sorts Mill Goudy downloads full Roman and Italic Sets in TrueType and OpenType formats. A Bold set is not in the mix. We caution you not to insult Schwartz's hard work by apply a false bold via your application. In fact, forget you have that option as that little trick will just muddy up the negative spaces within the letters and make you look like an amateur. True, a Bold set would have been nice, but the designer wasn't lazy. Sorts Mill Goudy offers oldstyle and lining figures, superscripts and subscripts, fractions, ligatures, class-based kerning, case-sensitive forms, capital spacing and support for many languages that use Latin script.

All in all, Sorts Mill Goudy takes Goudy Old Style down a new road. This vehicle may require some fine-tuning, but we're happy to be along for the ride.

Note: To use this font, unzip the folder and install the .otf or .ttf files in the folder C:\Windows\Fonts. Note that the fonts won't appear in your applications until you close and re-open them. You'll find the font's location by searching for the license label OFL before the name.

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