Of the hundreds of thousands of free fonts on the web, only a tiny handful are ‘text’ fonts suitable for plain text. Some of these have bold and italic variants, perhaps even small capitals; but almost none offer different optical sizes. In fact, not a single freeware font exists with a rich set of glyphs, weights and optical sizes — until now.
Taking up the challenge, I have been creating Coelacanth, a typeface inspired by Bruce Rogers’ legendary Centaur, described by some as the most beautiful typeface ever designed. There are surprisingly few digital revivals of Centaur, and none that I know of providing the smaller optical sizes that were available in the original metal type. Centaur was tremendously versatile, as elegant and readable in the smallest caption text as it was at display sizes.
Coelacanth is a work in progress. One of the fonts, 14-point Regular, has a high number of glyphs for European languages, Greek and Cyrillic, as well as small and petite caps, contextual glyph variants and advanced kerning. My immediate goal is to extend these glyphs and features to bold and italic versions to create a rudimentary usable type-family. Then I will be gradually fleshing out the other extremes of light and dark, very large and very small type-sizes — all the remaining fonts can be interpolated from these.
An italic is underway, rather different to the Arrighi that has standardly accompanied Centaur. Arrighi was an independent design with no relationship to Centaur; and I hope to give the new italic a stronger link to Centaur‘s distinctive DNA. An alternative italic closer to Arrighi may eventually be offered as well.