The Peace of Amiens between France and England in March 1802 cost Napoleon
his hold on Egypt. It was not long before the first pieces of Egyptian loot appeared in London, sparking a wave of enthusiasm for the Land of the Pyramids. And the type foundries were not immune to the fever. Their catalogues presented so-called “Egyptians”, Roman typefaces with linear serifs and very little contrast.
In around 1913, Monotype released an Egyptian with the serial number 173. By now, this classification of type, which had become known as “slab serif”, was an essential feature in the repertoire of every typesetting company. In 1932, the Monotype
works manager Frank Hinman Pierpont
commissioned his studio to design a new version of Egyptian 173, which was soon released as Rockwell
– the name having been “borrowed” from the company’s American joint venture, Lanston Monotype
. Its weight is reminiscent of Stempel
’s Memphis. Rockwell was soon available in several different font versions, becoming the most successful Egyptian typeface of the 20th century.
In the age of mechanical typesetting, Monotype Rockwell was the most successful Egyptian typeface (Photo: Mayo Nissen)