Marcin Antique


This typeface went through many other names and incarnations—the first ones dating back to 2010—before settling on Marcin Antique. Inspired by late 19th-century French types produced by the Fonderie Gustave Mayeur in Paris, the sans serif family is a fresh interpretation of France’s long tradition of grotesque faces. 


Based in Paris, the Mayeur type foundry was active in the late 19th and early 20th century. It published a remarkable collection of magnificent type specimens characterised by their splendid use of ornaments, borders, and initial capitals. Those publications contained a wide variety of typefaces for text and display use. The “Antiques” or grotesques providing the source material for Marcin Antique were among the styles showed in the 1894 and 1912 editions of the Spécimen-album de la fonderie Gve Mayeur, Allainguillaume&cie, succrs., both published in Paris.


Design decisions

The development of Marcin Antique was not a continuous process. It proceeded in several stages, each producing different iterations of the typeface until it reached its final, published form. Every successive stage gave me the opportunity to revisit previous versions and to experiment with the letterforms. Going back and forth helped me decide which shapes—to me—would best represent the various sources I was using as a basis.


For the skeleton of the lighter weights, I chose to follow the proportions of the relatively light lowercase found in a piece of small text (fig. 1). It featured the original, idiosyncratic shapes for f, j, t, and y. While they looked fine in the lighter weights, those letters started to become fuzzy as the weight increased. To avoid problems, I replaced them with more conventional designs when drawing the bolder end of the spectrum. The original forms remained available as stylistic alternates.

Fig. 1) Reproduction of one of the many antiques presented in Mayeur’s specimen which served as an inspiration for Marcin Antique’s lowercase in the lighter weights, except for the fancier f, j, r, t, and y. Bellow, the Light and Heavy weights from an earlier version featuring those original forms as alternates and more examples of Mayeur's original types.


As the fonts went into final production and I started working on the specimens, I noticed still wasn’t entirely satisfied with my solutions. I felt that anything heavier (and including) the regular weight didn’t work quite well. This realisation made me decide to take a step back and pick up an earlier idea, creating a different set of alternates that would effectively enrich the design rather than being a mere reference to the source material.


Marcin Antique strikes a nice middle ground. The typeface looks less polished than most neo-grotesques, yet doesn’t emphasise too much the quirks of its vintage source material. Its characters feature only a minute modulation in contrast. The slight difference between thick and thin makes the typeface look more lively on the page and the screen. Another noticeable feature is the moderate x-height which creates rounder forms for o, c, e, b, d and related characters. The widths of both uppercase and lowercase characters display some unusual relationships, such as a C that is wider than the G, or a c that is wider than the e. All these traits combined make for an airy, versatile type family that is pleasant to read, and works well in both display and text use. 


Marcin Antique is available in eight weights from Thin to Super with matching italics. While the weights up to Heavy have normal proportions, Super is noticeably wider for increased impact. The italics are actually slanted romans; their slope is greater than usual, making them stand out in a text. They are drawn lighter than their roman counter parts to compensate for the increase in colour of the sloped forms. 


The OpenType fonts include Latin Extended character sets, all the different styles of numerals, and alternate glyphs that subtly alter the feel of the typeface. Stylistic Set 1 removes the tail from the a and turns the double-storey g into a single-storey design; Stylistic Set 2 straightens the leg of the Helvetica-like R into a Franklin Gothic-style variant; and Stylistic Set 3 moves the tail of the Q upwards to allow for tighter linespacing. In the italics, Stylistic Set 1 also turns the standard a into a single-storey form, making the slanted design look more like a ‘true’ italic.


We would like to thank Ramiro Espinosa, Ben Kiel, and Joana Correia for their help during the development and production process, and hope you enjoy using Marcin Antique as much as we enjoyed designing it.


Download the pdf Specimen at the bottom of the page.






Thin Italic


Extralight Italic


Light Italic




Medium Italic


Bold Italic


Heavy Italic


Super Italic


PDF icon MarcinAntique1016.81 KB

Sans Grotesque


8 weights + italics