“Devinne Ornament” Typeface by URW Type Foundry

My family and I are currently staying in the northern Indiana/southern Michigan area, and we recently drove through the town of Bristol, IN, where we saw this sign in passing. I was immediately drawn to that lovely typeface they used for the town’s name, and when I got home, I ran that linked photo through the WhatTheFont! identifier tool.

What I found was slightly confusing: The typeface very obviously belonged to a family called “Devinne”, but it was sourced from two different foundries:

  1. DeVinne by Linotype (from $35)
  2. Devinne “Ornament” & “D Regular” by URW (from $20)

They look practically identical to my eye, yet the licenses cost different amounts…? I turned to the Fonts In Use site to get the answer (bold emphasis mine):

Released by Stephenson Blake and based on a Deberny & Peignot typeface called Les Modernes from around 1900. [Reichardt/MyFonts] The typeface is named after the renowned American printer Theodore Low DeVinne (1828–1914) [MyFonts], but should not be confused with De Vinne from ATF or Linotype — the three are disparate designs.

Various sources list Gustav F. Schroeder as the designer, but it is unclear that he had anything to do with this typeface, and these credits may be misapplied from his design for Central.

Photoscript had a phototype version which was also carried by Berthold Fototypes.

There are at least three digital versions: Linotype’s, and two from URW which are distinct, and may be based on different metal sizes or different sources altogether. Naming also varies, adding to the confusion. This design is known at various outlets as Devinne, De Vinne, or DeVinne. Ornament, Ornamented, and Ornamental are also used. Paul Lloyd has a freebie version named Duvall.

Ah, okay. Well, whatever the story is, all I know is that Devinne would look fantastic as the heading font on my personal blog, The Spark Journal:

Examples made purely for illustrative purposes.

Examples made purely for illustrative purposes.

It has a kind of old-world newspaper-y feel, but there’s also a sort of swoopiness (is that a word?) that I find delightfully appealing. Out of the two examples above, I’m partial to the title-cased version on top, but even in all-caps, the letterforms have a distinct personality all their own (especially with letters like “B”, “P”, and “R”). Either way, you get that eye-catching “O” that for me evokes the idea of a dimensional portal, weird as that sounds.

If you want a license of your own, you can get any of the ones I’ve mentioned here at MyFonts.com. Personally, I will likely start with the 10K-pageview web license of the Devinne Ornament typeface, since that’s the cheapest option and covers my needs nicely.