The Noblest Roman: A History of the Centaur Types of Bruce Rogers


2016. BCC publication number 236.

Click here to view the prospectus.

Written by Jerry Kelly and Misha Beletsky.

Bruce Rogers was a towering figure in the history of graphic arts, and remains one of the most important American book designers of the twentieth century. The unrivaled subtlety of his style also sets apart Rogers’s most widespread accomplishment, the Centaur type. This type was born of the late-nineteenth-century quest to create a modern revival of Nicolas Jenson’s humanist roman of 1470, long held by scholars to be both the origin and the apogee of the Venetian roman, and which has inspired designers from William Morris to Robert Slimbach to attempt types based on Jenson’s graceful proportions, elegant spacing, and evenness of color. None of these succeeded like Bruce Rogers’s Centaur, which stands as a perennial classic, as sublime as it is impossible to replicate.

The Noblest Roman: A History of the Centaur Types of Bruce Rogers chronicles every iteration of Centaur, from the original foundry type cast and acquired for the exclusive use by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, to the type’s conversion to the Monotype machine involving Stanley Morison, and its ultimate adaptation as a digital face. Set in Jerry Kelly’s recent digital rendering of Rogers’s original foundry Centaur, this engaging narrative is the result of significant new research, and is lushly illustrated with original drawings and proofs from the Monotype archives and the Library of Congress, as well as a tipped-in type specimen letterpress printed from the newly recast foundry.

The Noblest Roman: A History of the Centaur Type of Bruce Rogers is 138 pages, including a 16-page analysis of the use of Centaur by the Grabhorn Press of San Francisco, exclusive to the BCC edition. The book measures 7 x 10″, is bound in paper over boards with a letterpress titling label, and is slipcased. Each numbered copy contains a letterpress supplement designed, typeset, and printed by Jerry Kelly.

The price is $150 (plus applicable sales tax and shipping).

Publication date : September 12, 2016.

Members may pre-order the book until publication day, September 12, by telephoning the Book Club of California at (800) 869-7656, emailing, or printing and mailing the order form to 312 Sutter Street, Suite 500, San Francisco, CA 94121.

For international orders, please contact Lesya Westerman at and include your full mailing address in the body of the email.

To view and print the order form, please click here.

Should copies remain after all pre-publication orders by Book Club of California members have been filled on September 12, member requests for second copies and non-member requests for first copies will be honored in order of receipt.

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