Looking to bring an olde worlde look to your designs? Old English fonts can help you infuse your creative with a powerful sense of history, mysticism or majesty.
These distinctive fonts have a variety of popular uses, ranging from gangsta rap album covers to religious Christmas cards; retro flyer designs, broadsheet newspaper mastheads and hipster beer labels. They’re also a good choice for any design that requires a sense of stately authority and permanence, such as a professional qualification certificate.
What is an Old English font?
It’s worth noting at the outset that the term ‘Old English’ has a specific meaning within typography and doesn’t actually refer, as you might expect, to the early language of the Anglo-Saxons.
In fact, what we call ‘Old English’ script (aka Gothic script, Gothic minuscule or Blackletter) was used not just in England but also in France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, from the 12th to the 17th centuries.
It’s characterised by heavy and dramatic strokes, demanding both large amounts of ink and instant attention from the reader. In this post we’ve gathered together some of our favourite Old English fonts for your modern-day projects.
Created by Monotype in 1990, Old English Text is based on Caslon Black, a typeface originally cast by William Caslon in 18th century England that combines the design attributes of both the medieval and Victorian eras.
Designed by Morris Fuller Benton (1872-1947) of the American Type Founders in 1901, Mariage is a heavily classicized Old English font. It was based on the elaborate textura letterforms of medieval times, but cleaned up and made more legible for the Victorian audience.
Designed in 2004 by Jim Parkinson as a Type 1 font, Amador was re-released in 2012 as simple Open Type. This Old English font is inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement and the works of Frederic Goudy and Rudolf Koch.
04. DTL Flamade
Founded in 1990, The Dutch Type Library is mainly focused on creating new, contemporary typefaces, but it also revives valuable historic typeforms. Created by Matthew Carter and released in 2017, DTL Flamande is based on textura types by the Flemish punchcutter Hendrik van den Keere, in particular the Gros Canon Flamande and the Parangonne Flamande, which both date from 1571.
05. Cloister Black
Created by Bitstream, one of the first independent digital type foundries, which was acquired by Montotype in 2012, Cloister Black is based on the classic font designed by Joseph Warren Phinney and Morris Fuller Benton in 1904, based on 18th century sources.
06. LTC Goudy Text
This Old English font was designed by Frederic Goudy of the Lanston Type Company and is based on the typeface used on Gutenberg’s original 42-line Bible. More recently, the Lombardic Caps were designed as an accompaniment and are offered paired with the lower case as an alternate option.
Engravers Old English BT is another classic Old English font revived by Bitstream, which was originally designed by Morris Fuller Benton in 1906 and cut by American Type Founders. It’s essentially an improved version of the 19th-century font Calson Text.
08. Notre Dame
Notre Dame was created in 1993 by Karlgeorg Hoefer, who was inspired by the structure of forms once used mainly for liturgical purposes. Digital techniques were used to incorporate ornaments and borders that bring a feel of late Gothic to the design.
09. P22 Sting
Now for something a little different.... Sting is a hybrid of lowercase Old English and Roman capitals. Originally drawn by Michael Clark in pen and ink, this design evolved over several years and is now available in font form, for both documentation and decoration.
10. New Old English
Finally, a modern take on Old English, if that’s not too much of a contradiction in terms. New Old English was inspired by two Victorian coins: the gothic crown and gothic florin, which featured a gothic script lowercase with quite modern-looking, short ascenders and descenders fitting snugly around the queen’s head or heraldic motif.