Stone Carved Type

June 11, 2013 Steve Hawley

In the grand scheme of things, I’m not really a type geek or font snob, but I do find the elements of type and type design fascinating, especially when it shows craftsmanship, either in the the letterforms themselves or in how they were created in a particular piece.  The 1978 production, Final Marks is a wonderful documentary about this process and is worth the 50 minutes to watch.  John Benson, mentioned in the documentary, designed some type for Adobe as well.

I first really started taking note of typography after seeing some of the “Modern Ancients” fonts that Carol Twombly designed for Adobe.  These are fonts that were taken or inspired by stone lettering from earlier times.  One of her fonts, Lithos, was based on a Greek font, but saw incredible popularity in Mexican food labels.

Over the past weekend, I was at my college reunion at Oberlin and I found some very nice lettering as part of the World War II Memorial near Finney Chapel.  There was one word that especially caught my eye:

stone with


All the letters were carved beautifully.  I especially appreciated the skill in carving the letter I and the letter T which are split by a mortar line.  I don’t know if they were carved before or after the stone was cut, but both letters are a scant half centimeter from the edge of the stone.  I imagine it was very delicate work to either carve the letters in the stone near the edge or cut the stone after it was carved.

About the Author

Steve Hawley

Steve was with Atalasoft from 2005 until 2015. He was responsible for the architecture and development of DotImage, and one of the masterminds behind Bacon Day. Steve has over 20 years of experience with companies like Bell Communications Research, Adobe Systems, Newfire, Presto Technologies.

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