New Helvetica: weighing your options

[click to enlarge]

As a follow up to my previous post I thought it would be of interest to see the logic behind the numbering system of new helvetica.

The system is based on Adrian Frutiger’s numbering system for Univers, one of the great contributions to typography, where the base weight of the type, the equivalent of a medium weight, is established at number 55.

New helvetica was published in 1983 by Linotype’s company, D. Stempel AG, with no less than 51 different variants in nine weights and three widths: condensed, normal and extended. This newly designed family of typefaces evolved as a series from the very beginning. Whereas most other versions of Helvetica had weights added over a period of time.

Above are all the weights excluding the italics. In the center you will see the middle weight New Helvetica 55.

This abundance of weights is the reason why the majority of designers prefer Helvetica over Arial.

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