Did you like the giant S from French Vogue Kirsten pointed out a few weeks ago? Us too!
This style of type is called Tuscan and it originated well before printing. Tuscans can be identified by bifurcation of the terminals — some have speculated that the bifurcation in the earliest examples may have been a typographic equivalent of the sign of the fish, an attempt to signify Christian faith in the letters themselves. Tuscans really hit their stride in the 19th century, during the age of handbills (each trying to outdo one another in typographic excess). This is when the form started mutating like crazy: the ends trifurcated, bulges or spikes erupted mid-stem, letters split into two, swashes and flourishes sprouted out.
Tuscans can be extended or condensed, rigid or expressive: some of the newer digital ones are hand-rendered. So versatile a type style, it’s a shame it’s rarely used contemporarily outside of circus- or western- themed work.
Credits & analysis, after the jump. (more…)