There is a thread here under General Discussion titled Bookman Old Style “4” that should probably be in this catagory. The jist of it is about characters in certain fonts that just don’t look like they belong to the font.
Jhenry mentioned the zero in Garamond and I expanded that by mentioning that Goudy had designed several faces with zeroes that just didn’t seem to follow the form of the rest of the font.
I did a little looking into this and can now tell you that aside from the distinctive “Goudy Q” that shows up a lot of his designs, the plain zero is actually a more prevalent distinction in his designs.
The one that is the most noticeable (dare I say freakish?) among them is the zero in Italian Oldstyle. It is a perfect monoline circle and is much lighter in weight that any other character in the font. It can literally jump off the page at you as a “wrong font” character. As I said in the other thread, Goudy once explained that he wanted the zero to look like nothing (nothing=zero). Cute on a philosophical level, but it wreaks visual havoc when set.
Italian Oldstyle is the most flagrant example, but other Goudy faces displaying this trend are:
Kennerly Old Style (and Bold), Garamont, Deepdene, Goudy Modern, Collier Old Style, Goudy Newstyle, Marlborough, Companion Old Style, Kaatskill, Goethe, Franciscan, Village No. 2, Bertham and Goudy Thirty.
Lest you think that this is a Goudy invention, check out Fell Roman from a few centuries earlier and you will find it there too.
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I think a discussion about the shape of the zero, in some fonts, and the reason for it, concluded that its use, in printing, dates back to the earliest days and was just modelled after its shape in earlier hand-written texts. It was used by Fibonacci, using the Hindu-Arabic figures, when he wrote, in 1202, “The nine Indian figures are: 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1. With these nine figures, and with the sign 0 … any number may be written”, so it was originally a place-indicator rather than an actual figure.
I am looking at a book printed in 1554, by the Aldine Press, which was printed totally in Italic and they use, what is known as a “ring-zero.” So, originally, it was a place-indicator in mathematics. I think that Goudy, and other designers knew the history, and wanted it to look like the original character. Knowing that, though, If I were a modern printer, I would not use it for a customer, unless they wanted it and would rather use a lower-case “o”, if using an old-style font. It is a problem in Caslon 471, too.
The historical perspective is great! I knew it had quite a history put was too lazy to dig back as far as you did. Great information. You do see it in other American and European fonts as well, but not commonly. I should probably state the obvious that this only occurs on oldstyle or non-lining figures.
We did an annual report in San Fransicsco in the late 70’s and the typeface selected was Palatino. We wanted to use non-lining figures in the book because it would really add a lot of elegance to the financial pages. It was quite an ordeal at the time to find a photocomposition font that had these figures available. I believe that we had to share the cost with our typographer to obtain a special font from Berthold at that time so that we could get that figure style. The annual report was for a bank and it turned out spectacular.