Bruce Rogers remains a towering figure in the graphic arts, arguably the single most important American book designer of the twentieth century. The unrivaled subtlety of his style also sets apart Rogers’s most widespread accomplishment, the Centaur type. Numerous other Jenson revivals of his day (as well as more recent attempts) appear at best quaint, and at worst hopelessly dated, compared to Centaur, which stands as a perennial classic, as sublime as it is impossible to replicate. According to D. B. Updike in his definitive Printing Types, Centaur proved “one of the best Roman fonts designed in America, and of its kind, the best anywhere.” In his review for The Fleuron, Stanley Morison praised Centaur for the design’s departures from the Jenson original, calling attention to its “unique grace [and] modest individuality.” Centaur has even been called “the noblest roman of them all.”
Using original drawings and proofs from the Monotype archives, Jerry Kelly will discuss the original Centaur design from 1914, and its 1928 adaptation by Rogers and the Monotype Corporation.
Jerry Kelly is a co-author of the book The Noblest Roman: A History of the Centaur Types of Bruce Rogers, forthcoming from RIT Press this fall. He is a book designer, calligrapher, and typographer. Following a few years working in lettering and calligraphy he left employment in those fields to pursue a career in book design, first with the Press of A. Colish in Mount Vernon, New York (1981–1991), and then with the Stinehour of Press of Lunenberg Vermont, where he rose to the position of Vice President (1991–1999). After The Stinehour Press was sold he went out on his own, designing and producing books as proprietor of Jerry Kelly LLC. His work has received numerous awards, including thirty selections in the prestigious “Fifty Books of the Year” awards for excellence in book design of the American Institute of Graphic Arts. Since 1978 he has been a partner at the Kelly-Winterton Press, a small shop printing fine editions by letterpress (and occasionally other means where appropriate). He is also a partner at the Nonpareil Typefoundry, a small, independent type design firm. He has also taught and lectured widely.