Secessionist Origins of Butterfield

butterfieldmfIn the course of our ongoing research on old type and creative lettering, we stumbled on the origins of our Butterfield font and it is an interesting story.

BG047-POButterfield was based on lettering from a 1967 poster for the Paul Butterfield Blues Band at the Fillmore. We assumed the lettering originated in the psychedelic movement of the time, but assuming something like that is often a mistake.

While researching the Vienna Secession, the Austiran branch of the Art Nouveau movement, we came upon Ver Sacrum magazine which was published from 1898 to 1903. Ver Sacrum was the publishing outlet of Vereinigung Bildender Künstler Österreichs and published artists like Gustav Klimt and Max Kurzweil. Just as we were influenced by the Psychedelic movement from about 50 years ago, the artists of that era looked back about the same amount of time to the design movements of the early 1900s.

versacrum2Looking through old issues of Ver Sacrum for design ideas, we discovered the real origins of the lettering on which Butterfield was based. The actual origin of the lettering is a calendar published by Ver Sacrum and the design and lettering are by Alfred Roller.  There are some difference between the original design and the 1967 poster but the relationship is obvious.  The 1960s version regularized some of the characters and eliminated some of the interesting quirks, like the peculiar F and W characters and the width.

We’ve put the Roller lettering sample in the queue for development as a font.  That will take a while, but for now if you like the style, Butterfield is available in our ONLINE STORE.

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