Inspired by Puritan ideals, 17th century writing master Charles Snell began developing a roundhand script based on the principles of simplicity and efficiency. The resulting script lacked the ornaments of other calligraphic forms of the day. Its straightforward, functional tone was well-suited for use in the burgeoning industrial economy of Snell’s day.
When a transition was eventually made to mechanical type, Snell’s roundhand design was left out in the cold, thanks in large part to the large overhangs of its capitals. Etching them into the metal type blocks was too difficult and the script fell into disuse.
In 1965, Matthew Carter, who had already established a reputation leading the typographic program at Crosfield, was hired by Linotype to develop new typefaces. One of his first efforts at the company was the Snell Roundhand design, a reinterpretation of Snell’s original roundhand. Technological advancements had made the photocomposition of joined scripts possible; the Snell Roundhand design was intended as homage to the rejuvenating effects of this new technology.
The formal script eventually became a modern classic. Its refined, simple touch of elegance makes it an excellent calligraphic script for modern sensibilities.
Snell Roundhand is widely used for personal correspondence, invitations, and announcements, thanks to the comfortable elegance of its script. Its uppercase characters blend well with other typefaces when used for initials.