In letters we trust: Tobias Frere-Jones

 In Lectures

As with any lecture, I always go in with the mindset of learning something new. I always find myself surprised about how much I learn. Typically, I wind up learning something that has nothing to do with graphic design. Aaron Draplin’s lecture is excellent example of this. While a majority of it had to do with his work, I could not help notice that his true message was to just enjoy yourself, regardless of what you do.

Being my favorite type designer, I had always wanted to attend a lecture by Tobias. I purposely did not read anything about what the lecture would entail. The analysis of bank notes is the last thing I expected. For one, why would be discuss something that appears to be poorly typeset? Little did I know, every mistake found on bank notes, was done on purpose. Even during the days of Benjamin Franklin, America still had to find a way to prevent fraudulent bank notes. It was then I learned the craziest techniques that were used when trying to prevent people from making unauthorized bank notes. Things like filing off parts of letters, shifting the baselines, substation Os with 0s. Again, I would look at these and just think how poorly typeset they were. Now, I have immense respect for these typesetters. To remove part of a letter today, one just needs to create outline and mess with the points. Back then? Expect the same task to take hours. We have it good today.