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Mathematical Treasure: Bruce Rogers's Euclid

Sidney J. Kolpas (Delaware County Community College)

Bruce Rogers (1870–1957) was an American typographer, type designer, and one of the greatest book designers of the 20th century. His design style was known for rejecting modernism and for typically avoiding asymmetrical arrangements. Rather than sans serif typefaces, he preferred fonts such as Bell, Caslon, and Montaigne, his own invention. Rogers's greatest achievement in typography, though, was the serif typeface Centaur. He based Centaur on printing from the Venice shop of Nicolas Jenson (ca 1470) but made the font more slender and elegant. Rogers employed Centaur in the 1935 Oxford Lectern Bible; subsequent applications include the titles of many Penguin Books.

Inspired by Oliver Byrne’s multicolor Euclid published by Pickering in 1847, at the age of 74 Rogers completed a plan made twenty-five years earlier to publish an artistic, limited edition of 500 copies of Euclid’s Book I with sixty colorful woodcut diagrams, using Frederic Goudy's (1865–1947) Deepdene Italic type, which belongs to the serif font design, with low contrast between strokes and an oblique axis. Goudy cut special characters, with flourishes, for the "Q.E.D." and "Q.E.F” in Rogers’s book. Elements of Geometry Book I was published by Random House in 1944 and is considered an artistic masterpiece. The author found Rogers’s book (with its original slipcase) at the UCLA Book Fair in the 1980s; the bookseller was unaware of its rarity and sold it at a bargain basement price.

The preface of Rogers’s book contains an introduction excerpted from an essay (‘Variety’, 1927) by Paul Valéry (1871–1945) which discusses ancient Greeks' contributions to Geometry. Valéry was a French poet, essayist, and philosopher. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize (Literature) in 12 different years.

Images from the Euclid designed by Bruce Rogers

Cover and title page of Elements of Geometry Book I. From the collection of Dr. Sid Kolpas.

Sample pages from the Euclid designed by Bruce Rogers.

Sample pages showing Rogers's distinctive typography. From the collection of Dr. Sid Kolpas.


Grannis, Chandler B., ed. Heritage of the Graphic Arts. New York & London: R.R. Bowker Company, 1972.

Rogers, Bruce. Elements Of Geometry Book I. New York: Random House, 1944.

"Bruce Rogers (typographer)." Wikipedia.

"Paul Valéry." Wikipedia.

Index to Mathematical Treasures

Sidney J. Kolpas (Delaware County Community College), "Mathematical Treasure: Bruce Rogers's Euclid," Convergence (February 2019)