Are the oldest fonts still alive?

are the oldest fonts still alive

Fonts have been around for as long as people have mastered the art of using together pen and paper. Initially created and written by hand, they became widely spread alongside with the invention of the printing press. However, some fonts that date back way before the 15th century are still considered little works of art. They are constantly conserved, reinvented and reinterpreted. Let’s find out the history behind some of the oldest fonts in the world!

Trajan – one of the oldest fonts ever

The Trajan font.

Or, at least, the resurrection of a really, really old font. Inspired by the Imperial Roman font that we can all see on the famous Trajan’s Column in Rome, this font appeared in 1989. Typographer Carol Twomby scanned and recreated the original serif font used on the column. This transformed Trajan in the first ancient font digitally reproduced by someone other than artisans or art restaurateurs.

Based on an ancient Latin font, Trajan contains only uppercase letters, making it perfect for movie or book covers.


The Bembo font.

Originally created in 1495 by the punch-cutter Francesco Griffo and brought back to life in 1929 thanks to Stanley Morison, this font got his name after Pietro Bembo, a famous Venetian poet from the 16th century. Since the beginning, Bembo was something else. This font is completely different from the more familiar calligraphy inspired fonts of the time. It’s sprinkled with lots of Roman influences we can notice in lots of contemporary fonts. However, Bembo kept a few calligraphic features, mainly visible in the serif area.

Because of its easy-to-read aspect, Bembo is perfect for books or movie posters.


the Bodoni font
The Bodoni font.

Created in 1798 by Giambattista Bodoni, Bodoni is a stylish, elegant and not at all calligraphic font, representative for the neoclassical era. When creating this font, the designer gathered its inspiration from the Didot family font, the first modern typeface design. Often, these modern fonts were criticised for their least legible faces. However, Bodoni has a more substantial construction and narrower set widths. These two characteristics transform the font into a more legible and easy to use one.

After two centuries of existence, Bodoni remains a loved font between designers. We can come across this font in lots of different mediums.

We talked about two other old fonts that are still around in our article about some of the world’s most recognisable fonts. Check it out and you’ll find out lots of interesting thing about Garamond and Didot.

Looking for the perfect font for you creative project? is the right please to look into. On our website, you can find over 500,000 available fonts and one of them might just be the one you’ve been searching for a while now.

Technical lead at WhatFontIs since 2010 with a (healthy?) obsession for fonts.

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