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About Salter

Salter is the latest in a series of explorations of 20th century book jacket calligraphy by designer Lucas Sharp. The typeface is inspired by various designs attributed to Oscar Ogg and George Salter, two prolific masters of this period.

1 weight, 2 total fonts.

Salter Construction

While Salter Roman pulls the majority of its construction methodology from the work of Oscar Ogg, Salter’s lowercase Italic construction is based on an exquisite piece of lettering penned by George Salter in 1941. Seven years earlier, Salter emigrated to New York from the Weimar Republic as it collapsed into fascism. The six years after his arrival was an intensely productive time for Salter, producing over 185 book jackets and at least 30 magazine covers during this period.† This typeface family in particular was inspired by the angular intensity of his design for The Transposed Heads (Thomas Mann, Alfred A. Knopf).

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The tension between the angularity and roundness created by the hard linear strokes and inky rotation of the pen are marvelously strange yet orderly. As a book jacket designer and master of pen and airbrush, Salter imbued his jacket designs with the dynamism and drama of the books he set out to illustrate.

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The stark contrasts of blunt, chiseled edges and smooth, inky terminals echo the tumultuous and dynamic moment in history that Salter inhabited.

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A Conversation Between Salter & Ogg

Salter's Italic uppercase echoes some of the lavish swash capital forms of Ogg Display Italic, but with details that resemble a more fluid script. Salter’s italic uppercase breaks with the baseline, and is quite large in size for use as drop-cap initials in title case settings. An additional set of standard-sized uppercase letters allow for the italic to be set in all-caps.

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Much of Salter Roman is based on two designs penned by Oscar Ogg in 1942. The first is his title page design for  Design & Paper No.11 (Marquardt & Company, New York); the second is his design for Gates of Aulis (Gladys Schmitt, The Dial Press, New York) that same year. The former became the basis for the lowercase, while the latter informed the uppercase. Salter is intentionally looser in its adherence to a strict set of secondary and tertiary hairline stroke values than Ogg, opting for the kind of loose and inky happenstance Oscar Ogg achieved with these lively vernacular styles.

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While the serif style, texture, and other fundamental construction elements differ entirely, Ogg Roman and Salter Roman share a common ancestor (Oscar Ogg) and as such many structural parallels can be found between the two faces. The act of systematizing something as singular and improvisational as Oscar Ogg or George Salter’s calligraphy brings it into a new state of being that is contradictory to its original nature. The typeface includes many contextual alternates and ligatures so that these expressive shapes fit together nicely in any setting.

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Salter is an intergenerational dialog between these two master designers and Lucas Sharp. While both Ogg and Salter were active members of New York’s book arts community — both men designing book jackets for the publishing house Alfred A. Knopf and engaged members of the Grolier Club‡, it’s unclear whether these two men knew each other. Whether or not they crossed paths, they were certainly each other's contemporaries and maybe even amicable competitors with mutual regard for each other’s work. The Salter type family is a loving homage to these two designers and strives to bring out their respective genius and eccentricity into a standalone typeface. The calligraphic roots they share, from the kinks and bumps to pauses and turns of the pen are unabashedly visible, an emblem of their joyful expressiveness — one that does not strive to perfect these letters, but takes full pleasure in the process and outcome of creating them.

Designed by Lucas Sharp and My-Lan Thuong with Wei Huang and Marc Rouault in 2021.

† Hansen, Thomas S. Classic Book Jackets: The Design Legacy of George Salter. Princeton Architectural Press, 2005.

 "OSCAR OGG DEAD; CALLIGRAPHER, 62" The New York Times, 11 August, 1971, p. 40.

‡ Kratzok, Sara. Parameshwar, Devyani. “George Salter (1897-1967): A Brief Biography” Dept. of German, Wellesley College, 28 October, 2004. http://academics.wellesley.edu/German/GeorgeSalter/Documents/bio.html

Version History
V.1 March 2021

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