All the typefaces in your drop-down font menu were designed by someone — maybe last year, maybe a hundred years ago or more — but someone drew it by hand a thousand times over. Like everything else, typefaces fall in and out of fashion; the foundries that cast them would exist then disappear and the metal would be melted down and reused. Typographers revived them from printed pages in the 20th century.
Green turns to the “6” on his screen and shows me how it’s done, and how it can drive a man insane. He pulls an anchor slightly to the right and the curve on the belly of 6 bulges, making the whole thing look off-kilter, stretched, weirdly pregnant. He shows me pages of drawings — blown-up, shrunk-down, hand-drawn letters. Thousands of them. Each of them wrong and right in their own microscopic ways. Or so he tells me.
Green found Doves when he was looking around for a typeface to use in his own private press. He saw it in an old book but no matter how deep he dug into the internet, he couldn’t find a digitised version anywhere.
He didn’t know that it was at the bottom of the Thames.