Slavonic Font Families

3. Poluustav Fonts

This family can be divided into three sub-families: a) Oldstyle Poluustav, b) Newstyle Poluustav, and c) Kievan Poluustav.

Font Name Designer (or Redesigner) Remarks
a) Oldstyle Poluustav - the vertically expansive style found in the early editions of Ostrog, Vilno, Zabludov, Striatin, etc. in the mid-1500s. Although this typestyle went out of general usage by the end of the 16th century, it continued to be used on a limited basis, even in the Synodal era, for editions of the Gospels that are placed on altar tables. (Because of the lavish vertical dimensions of this large-sized typeface, it is difficult to get a lot of text on each page.)
Ostrog (UCS-8) Vladislav V. Dorosh

Originally introduced as Wilno-Ostrog in 2008, it has been updated a few times and some variants introduced, particularly "Ostrog Dolnyi", which has capitals resting on a lower baseline (historically correct). This font, which is considered one of the crowning jewels of all available Slavonic fonts, is currently being adapted by Nikita Simmons (and others) for Unicode (from UCS-8 encoding).


b) Newstyle Poluustav - the more vertically conservative style of the early editions of Ivan Fedorov (Moscow, Ostrog, Lvov, etc.), the Moscow Typografiia throughout the pre-Nikonian era, and up to the late 1700s. Because the Oldstyle Puluustav proved to be too large and impractical for general use, the Newstyle Poluustav was designed to economize on space, and still be large enough for several singers to gather around and sing hymns from.
Fedorovsk Nikita Simmons

This font is a meticulous reproduction of Ivan Fedorov's typeface used in the books printed in Moscow, Lvov, Ostrog and Zabludov, and continued by his apprentices. To create this font, I used font design software to trace the outlines of high-resolution scans of original editions of Ivan Fedorov's books; the resulting typeface is virtually identical to the typeface of Ivan Fedorov (who was considered the father of Russian printing and typegraphy). (This font was designed circa 1998 with a legacy encoding. It is currently being reworked to Unicode and will be available for distribution in the near future.)

This font has been reworked and distributed (without permission) by Constantin Spektorov without being renamed, for use with both UCS-8 and Unicode encodings. Mr. Spektorov has altered many of the shapes of the characters according to his wishes, claiming: "This font was based on Fedorovsk XCS & AC by Nikita Simmons. But it was transformed (some glyphs - a little bit, others - seriously) according to the glyph features of the Russian pre-Nikon church books of the Moscow Pechatny Dvor (printing court), 1st half of the XVII century." However, I contend that this cannot be accurate, since the glyph redesigns clearly do not match the original text scans. I am opposed to the alterations Mr. Spektorov has made because they are a departure from the original intent of the design: to match Ivan Fedorov's original typeface. Recently the font has been renamed "Pechany Dvor UCS" and legally he has the right to distribute the font, but I must still make the argument that the alterations do not produce the same beautiful "polished" look as Ivan Fedorov's publications.


Pair of fonts:


Serge Shanovich

Fita-Church. Copyright (C) 1994; Type Market Ltd. Moscow; Created by Serge Shanovich
Fita-Poluustav. Copyright (C) 1995; Type Market Ltd. Moscow; Created by S.Shanovich

This package of 3 fonts (including Fita-Vjaz, see the decorative fonts), is commercially distributed by ParaType in Moscow, but it is also freely available for download from several web Orthodox sites. (I cannot figure out the legal situation here, so I can only assume that ParaType has given up its rights to sole distributorship, but continues to sell it nevertheless.)

Tushka ?

This font, which reproduces the typeface used by the Preobrazhenskii Bogodelnyi Dom in Moscow (an Old Believer publishing house in the early 20th century), was produced by an unknown designer in 2006. (It must be admitted that the font is rather rough and in need of refinement to match the Preobrazhenskii "face".)

This font has been reworked and distributed by Constantin Spektorov and renamed "Grebnev". [Created by unknown author; edited & converted into UCS8 by Constantin Spektorov, 2009.] Within the font itself, Mr. Spektorov writes the description: "This font is based on Tushka font by an unknown author. But it was transformed (some glyphs - a little bit, others - seriously) according to the glyph features of the printing establishment of the Preobrazhensky Bogadelenny Dom, beginning of the 20th century, created by Luka Arefyevich Grebnev." (It must also be admitted that the alterations were a small improvement, but much more work could be done.)


Rogozhskaya Nikolai Sukhov

Designed by Nikolai Sukhov, 2005-2006. Based on Old Believers Rogozhskoe Cemetery typography. Moscow, 1910-1918. The typographer was I. A. Ushakov. This font is not currently being distributed.


c) Kievan Poluustav - the type style of editions printed by the Kiev Caves Lavra (with western influence); this typeface was used right up until the 1917 Revolution. One of the distinctive features of the Kievan Poluustav (in most of the Kievan publications) is the complete replacement of the letter "zemlja" shaped like the number "3" (з) with the variant form which has a tail (ꙁ). In addition, the long-tailed "dobro" is the usual form, and the short-tailed variation is generally used to avoid collisions with ascending characters in the following line of text.
StaroUspenskaya (UCS-8) Vladislav V. Dorosh

Introduced in 2004 by Vlad Dorosh, this font reproduces a typeface used in many editions of the Kiev Caves Lavra. (It does not, however, include the proper "tailed" form of the letter "zemlja", and it does not include the alternate "short-tailed dobro".)