Diotima Classic

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Diotima has become a forgotten face in the digital age. Originally made as foundry type by D. Stempel AG, it was a light design that, without the aid of ink squeeze, seemed too delicate when converted to photo and then to digital type. Its roman is wider than normal, while its italic is narrower than normal. It also lacks additional weights.

Linotype—heir to Stempel’s library—has just released Diotima Classic. Reinterpreted by Zapf von Hesse with the help of Akira Kobayashi, the new design includes a family of four weights (light, regular, bold, and heavy) with corresponding italics. There are small capitals and oldstyle figures—but no swash italic capitals. The lining figures have been redesigned to match the height of the capitals.

For Diotima Classic Regular, the widths of the roman have been reduced and its long serifs shortened. The italic has been widened (accomplished by reducing the width of the roman and shortening its long serifs). This results in a more balanced family, but the grace of the original Diotima Italic—a contender for the most beautiful italic metal typeface—has been lost along with the quirkiness.

There are also small changes made to individual letters: In the roman, the link of the g has been sloped to the right, making the letter less static; the degree of flaring on the right side of the crossbars of the f and t has been diminished; the Q has a longer and more elegant tail. In italics, the f now has an extraneous spur at the end of its upper stroke; and the lower horizontal of z now ends with a serif rather than a calligraphic fillip.

Diotima Classic is no longer the face that metal type worshipers remember, but maybe it will have its own fervent admirers.

FOUNDRY / linotype.com