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A modular typeface inspired by a dutch stamp design from 1978 by Gert Dumbar and René van Raalte. It is available for free and can be modified and extended by everyone.

Author: Christophe Stoll
Date: 31. July 2008

While reading an interview with Iain Follett on Grain Edit and browsing through scans of his amazing stamp collection on Flickr, I was suddenly attached to one particular stamp design.

Postcode stamp
Stamp scan by Iain Follett, taken from Flickr

It reads POSTCODE, dates back to 1978 and was designed by Gert Dumbar and René van Raalte, apparently “to encourage the Dutch to include postcodes in addresses”, as Follet states on the photo page. It seems there was also a book with instructions on Postcode usage available at that time.

I was like: I want this as a computer font! I started looking around for it a bit, but could not find anything (please send hints if you know better). So the only way was doing it on my own.

Since I’m no typographer and even don’t have the right tools installed on my machine to play around with, that asked too much of me in the first place. Until I remembered fontstruct, a (social) web application to create and share typefaces online. When I had a first look at their screencast, I was quite impressed how powerful this flash-based web application seemed to be (powerful compared to many other web apps I have seen, not from a professional typographer’s point of view).

POSTCODE license: Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike. This means you can remix, tweak, and build upon the current version of the font non-commercially, as long as you credit the originator and license your new creations under the identical terms. All new work based on POSTCODE will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also be non-commercial in nature.

It took me a while to figure out how to create the characters, to make them fit in a grid and stuff like that. But since things like copy&paste work like a charm in fontstruct, it was quite easy and fun to experiment while working on the font. I actually felt pretty addicted after a while. But also, it was like Zen, very relaxing (due to the repetitive nature of working on a modular typeface?). The later the night, the emptier the bottle, the more elaborated the creation – that type of thing …

And it got wilder and wilder. After doing the capital letters, I went kinda crazy on filling the lowercase slots with different random symbols – rectangles, slants, etc. I figured that, besides working great as a display typeface, the grid it is based on is also very inviting for creating pattern-based ornaments. Well, if you download the font, you will figure that it is rather rough, not very pragmatic or functional (please note the little surpise in place of the @). You can easily use the uppercase alphabet and numbers, but when it comes to punctation and other typographical symbols, legibility starts suffering – depending on how you combine. But It think that’s fine, since it is nothing more than a display font made for fun.

If you feel that there are strange things going on or if you have additional ideas, please post a comment or feel free to go to fontsctruct, register yourself, clone POSTCODE and modify and extend it as much as you like. Any feedback is highly appreciated. Let us know what you’re doing with the font.

Download POSTCODE (TrueType font)

POSTCODE is a display font and works best in sizes 64, 128 and 256px. Please set the line height to 24 (64), 48 (128) or 96 (256). You can use it aliased or anti-aliased. In Photoshop, whatever anti-aliasing method you use, open and closed punches can get quite blurry. Maybe try using Illustrator instead. The font should also work well in Flash, I have not really tested it though. Maybe you have to play around with the optimized font sizes and line heights for better results.

Here are some examples, showing you POSTCODE in use (and misuse). Anti-aliasing is off in all samples:

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Oh, there are 30 comments so far

  1. Very nice, good kerning

    jarrik Muller on 8. August 2008
  2. this is really cool, it reminds me of those home sweet home embroidery pictures you get on your gran’s wall

    mike on 8. August 2008
  3. Lovely!

    Christopher Çolak on 11. August 2008
  4. Amazing font guy! Thank you so much!

    Victor H on 11. August 2008
  5. Nice work. But has Gert Dumbar agreed that you make available the font for free? Also, Gert’s co-designer on the Postcode project was René van Raalte. I wouldn’t be surprised if the alphabet was actually designed by him, being the most systematic of the two.

    Jan Middendorp on 12. August 2008
  6. Was there actually a full alphabet available before? All we saw was “Postcode” written on that stamp, that’s why we based our experiment on this as a fun project because we loved the type design and could not find an existing typeface anywhere …

    Christophe Stoll on 12. August 2008
  7. Thanks for the hint regarding René van Raalte, I must have overlooked this. Changed the text accordingly.

    Christophe Stoll on 12. August 2008
  8. AYo.. nice font Chris! Danks 4 making it available! *hugs*
    Will try make it useful in upcoming projects!
    (kudos to Gert Dumbar & René van Raalte for inspirations)

    O_L on 3. September 2008
  9. [...] C. Place of Build designed a beautiful poster for If you could using the stamp-inspired Postcode font we did a while ago. Get your own copy [...]

    If you could … ∞ precious forever on 3. September 2008
  10. [...] Download it here. [...]

    Postcode, a typeface inspired by stamps | blog.strakt on 4. September 2008
  11. [...] Speaking of which, a new creative commoncs typeface based on the edges of stamps… [...]

    D’log :: blogging since 2000 » ‘Best Post Office in the UK’, and it’s mine. on 4. September 2008
  12. arbaiten on 5. September 2008
  13. [...] public links >> postcode Postcode Saved by Jakamis4 on Wed 01-10-2008 Postcode prosecutions? Saved by userec on Wed 24-9-2008 [...]

    Recent Links Tagged With "postcode" - JabberTags on 3. October 2008
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    Alexwebmaster on 3. March 2009
  15. Hi, thank you very much!

    Mapiurka on 9. May 2009
  16. Hi,

    when I download the Postcode typeface to my Mac most of the letters don’t come up. Any ideas what I might be doing wrong?



    Caroline Roberts on 17. May 2009
  17. Which letters are you missing exactly? Please note that the character set of this font is very limited and “freestyle” and there are only uppercase characters. It is also recommended to use it with specific settings (see above). Best thing is to play around with the typeface a bit and find out about it this way.

    Christophe Stoll on 27. May 2009
  18. Thanks for the font! It’s in the project logo.

    Kees on 6. June 2009
  19. @Kees: What kind of project is this exactly? Can’t find a description in English ;-)

    Christophe Stoll on 8. June 2009
  20. [...] Hamburger Designbüro Precious betreibt ein Weblog, in dem es einen Freefont anbietet, der mit Fontstruct gebaut wurde. Die Schrift heißt [...]

    Fontblog » Modulare Dumbar-Schrift »Postcode« (1978) für alle on 24. August 2009
  21. [...] Download it here. « Ankerside Shopping Centre Folktronica Friday » [...]

    Postcode, a typeface inspired by stamps — Substrakt on 20. April 2010
  22. [...] Mal wieder eine feine und zudem kostenlose Schrift zum herunterladen. Hier: [...]

    Postcode Typeface on 19. July 2010
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