People often ask me, “Which is your favorite typeface?” I always say that it’s a question that can’t really be answered, since it depends entirely on context: what’s the best typeface for this particular use? But, truth be told, for quite a while I have had a favorite, at least as a text face for books: Mark van Bronkhorst’s MVB Verdigris. I’ve used it a lot; it’s the text typeface of my two Dot-font books, and I even secured Mark’s permission to use it in the downloadable PDFs of those two books’ text. Inspired originally by small sizes of the types of Robert Granjon and Pierre Haultin, it’s wonderfully readable. The italic is especially striking.
Now Mark has released an OpenType Pro version, MVB Verdigris Pro Text, with expanded weights and styles, a few tiny reworkings, a lot of OpenType layout features, and a companion display face for use at large sizes, MVB Verdigris Pro Big.
What I wrote about Verdigris in 2004 still holds true today; but since then I can attest to my own happy experience using the typeface extensively. The one stumbling block for me in recent years has been that Verdigris wasn’t available as an OpenType font; in order to use its extensive typographic features, you had to jump through the old hoops of search-and-replace, choosing alternate characters or a separate font for such refinements as ligatures and small caps. No more! With Verdigris Pro, van Bronkhorst has given us a thoroughly workable book face, ready for the back-and-forth text flow of contemporary production.
Verdigris Big has no italic (at least so far), but its two weights ought to be quite useful in classical-looking display typography. The obvious comparison is with Matthew Carter’s wonderful Big Caslon. Although Carter’s sources and van Bronkhorst’s are different (18th-century Caslon vs. 16th-century van den Keere), they’re in the same ballpark; and neither of the two designers was after a strict revival. Like Big Caslon, Verdigris Big emphasizes contrast and sparkle at large sizes, though with a somewhat looser fit and a Renaissance stateliness.
As usual, Mark van Bronkhorst has produced an elegant PDF type specimen to accompany his new release.