Font of Youth: Classic Typefaces and their Anti-Aging Qualities

Anything labeled “Made in 1757” should be in a museum, right?

But typeface designs have defied expectations. A typeface can be both classic and modern at the same time. It can be made in 1757 and still be in use today.

In my first job in the early 2000s, I had no idea how old some of the typefaces I was using were.

Take a look at these typefaces, indicating their birthyears:

Can you identify these classic typefaces?
The answers

We see these age-defying typefaces everyday — in books, magazines, newspapers. Some are centuries-old but still very active, still being tweaked and refined for modern-day use.

As design and print technology evolved, typefaces maintained both their appearance and their appeal as they evolved from actual metal pieces to pixels and codes in software.

That’s one of the most beautiful things about typography. It reflects the culture of the day, and as it evolves it stays deeply rooted in where it began.

Giambattista Bodoni’s typeface, its very first version skillfully carved in metal in the late 1700s, is still in use in year 2019.

In the graphic design world, type designers are truly immortalised, and their work continues to be useful and relevant. Bodoni probably had no idea that centuries later, every graphic designer would know his name.

Designers influence type relevance

The secret is not in the type itself but in design culture. The way designers use type and reinvent design. How a typeface is used influences how it is perceived. For example, Comic Sans has been terribly misused. It was intended for kiddie graphics but has been used in office documents and powerpoint presentations, and has become one of the most scorned typefaces of all time.

On the other hand, Bodoni has been used by luxury magazines and premium brands, which has honored the design and purpose of the typeface, and allowed it to remain relevant throughout time.

Typefaces have the potential to be timeless, by being useful, and being well-used by designers of every generation.