Snell Roundhand Family

Late in the seventeenth century, the English writing master, Charles Snell, decried all flourishes in the Puritan tradition and stood for a plain and efficient form of roundhand.

Late in the seventeenth century, the English writing master, Charles Snell, decried all flourishes in the Puritan tradition and stood for a plain and efficient form of roundhand. The large x-height of these unadorned forms suited the purpose of the English roundhand, the standard commercial hand of the developing economic revolution, the typewriter face of its day. The overhangs on these letters were too large to cast in metal, blocking evolution to typography. Flourishes on the more elaborate forms could be adapted to fill body space, reducing or eliminating overhangs, allowing flourished scripts to appear in type. In 1966 Matthew Carter translated Snell’s script for photocomposition, later adding two more weights. With its large x-height and severely graceful texture, Snell, impossible in metal, appears as the most typographic of photocomposition scripts.


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