Every year, Pentagram chooses twelve beloved typefaces for its iconic Pentagram Calendar. Traditionally, the calendar features works by typographers past and present, from timeless standards like Garamond and Bodoni to modern classics such as Knockout and Gotham. In 2006, Pentagram broke with tradition and selected twelve typefaces from the same designers: H&FJ, who created for the calendar this collection of fifteen original fonts called, simply, Numbers.
For more than a century, typefounders considered numbers separately from the provision of other printing types. Nineteenth century type specimen books often displayed a separate section containing fonts of numbers alone, many of which contained unique features suited to specific kinds of settings. Fonts for tables contained digits designed to a standard width, so that columns would neatly align; those created for calendars contained forms such as “24/31” to accommodate orphan Sundays. The practice of creating specialized number fonts began to disappear at the beginning of the twentieth century, vanishing completely by the dawn of the digital age. But recognizing the usefulness of this practice, H&FJ has revived the tradition with its Numbers series of fonts.
The fonts in the Numbers series take their inspiration not from the history of printing types, but from other kinds of numbering familiar from the modern environment. Playing card numbers, instantly recognizable even out of context, have been revived as the Deuce typeface. The forms in the Greenback font are familiar from the U. S. dollar. Other fonts in the series draw inspiration from more distant sources, from vintage railroad cars to Soviet street signs.