The Trajan Column, Sort Of

Posted on 6 December 2006 in:


Trajan is a typeface designed by Carol Twombly for Adobe Systems in 1989. Its letters are based on a sample from an ancient inscription from the Trajan Column in Rome, which was completed around 113 AD.

Cast of the Trajan Column at the V&A

Here the column’s inscription is visible. Click on image to enlarge.

During the late 19th Century, a plaster cast was taken of the entire column. A copy of this is on display at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. This offers an excellent opportunity to catch of glimpse of a piece of lettering that may be amoung the most influential in the world. Of course, it is just a copy. But it is easier to view in many respects than the original.

V&A Plaster Cast Court 28.jpg

The column itself is taller than the hall in which it is displayed. So the cast has been cut in two. This also allows the upper portion of the column to be a bit more visible.

V&A Plaster Cast Court 2.jpg

Compare this close-up with the popular contemporary typeface below…

Trajan in Trajan

Adobe’s Trajan is an interesting digital work.

V&A Plaster Cast Court 17.jpg

The v-cut, which the Roman employed when cutting their letters, is clearly visible in several instances in this photo.


See the rest of my photos from the V&A’s Cast Courts on Flickr.
Read more about the Cast Courts at Wikipedia.
The Trajan fonts at