Wolpe Pegasus
Wolpe Pegasus
Wolpe Pegasus
Wolpe Pegasus
Wolpe Pegasus

Name: Wolpe Pegasus
Type: Retail typeface
Publisher: Monotype
Release year: 2017
Purchase links: MyFonts

Wolpe Pegasus is a revival typeface that was released as a part of Berthold Wolpe Collection in 2017. It’s a serif typeface that was originally designed by Berthold Wolpe in 1937.

Pegasus is a typeface that shares a lot of Wolpe-esque characteristics with Albertus, so much so that I suspect that it was made as a text counterpart to Albertus. Stroke terminals such as those of a c f r are not in agreement, neither the bowl shapes of b d p q, nor the horizontal stroke thicknesses of capital letters, or even individual serif shapes. Despite such inconsistencies, or rather thanks to them in combination with otherwise regular vertical stem thickness and letter spacing, the typeface reads quite well. It tells you a lot about text typeface design tha perhaps design consistency is overrated, and it works so long as horiontal rhythm is regular.

Inconsistencies in element details are partially due to the design process; the typeface was first sketched by pencil in a small size, 16 pt in this case. Wolpe once said in one of his lectures that you should draw your typeface in the intended size, which is exactly what he demonstrated here (it was one of the most impressive type drawings I have ever seen). The pencil sketch was later enlarged, details were finished in ink, and sent to the Monotype’s Type Drawing Office for final production. Given that all the resulting irregularities were kept intact (some were explicitly instructed on paper), the lack of precision was intentional. Who can argue with Wolpe on that when the typeface actually works?

At the initial release in ’37, Pegasus was only offered in 16 pt Regular; no other sizes or italic. This was due probably to the bad international situation, and lack of enthusiasm to such a non-classical design. It was digitised, and Bold and Italic were added in 1980 by Matthew Carter under Wolpe’s supervision, but the family was only used for his exhibition and never made available to the public. It was only passed around among typographers and graphic designers in secrecy, and slowly gained notoriety as one of the lost gems of the unsung master.

Years past in the mid 2010s, I came across the typeface in the Monotype Archive when Berthold Wolpe Collection was beginning to take shape. I didn’t get the design at first, but it was not long until it became one of my all-time favourites. Using the drawings left at the Monotype Archive and The Type Archive, and with the generous guidance from Matthew Carter, Pegasus was carefully revived.

It is not a revival so much as digging up a corpse if you do not give the design a new life, and Wolpe Pegasus is not a straight tracing of the old design. The spacing, diacritics, punctuations, etc. were all updated to the modern standard, and small caps as well were added. Italic receives the biggest change; Wolpe’s italic lettering style in general was a slanted & condensed roman with a bit of letterform alteration, and not a pure cursive. He applied the approach rather too literally in type design though, and both Albertus Italic and Pegasus Italic were based on the mechanically slanted Regular. The resulting distortion was corrected in my revival.

All of Wolpe’s designs have aged remarkably well, but none better than Pegasus in my opinion. It has a lot of lessons about modern design sensitivities that is overly clean and consistent, but not by being classical.