In 2009, an architecture book from 1897 in the library of the University of Wisconsin caught David Berlow’s attention. It was set in a clear text face — a predecessor of Bookman — presumably cast by the Western Type Foundry who called it Custer. Upon noting how well the typeface worked in sizes of 6 and 7 point in print, Berlow saw potential in developing the design into a family geared to onscreen reading. Custer RE is a broad, approachable typeface drawn very large on the body and with a tall x-height to maximize its apparent size when set small. The minimal stroke contrast and the hefty serifs let it stay clear down to a font-size of 9px and contribute to a balanced tone for good readability in long paragraphs of text.
Like all members of the Reading Edge series, Custer RE is intended to work well with numerous different “normal-sized” type families as a small-sized companion. Shift and Bookman would be the closest matches in the medium size range, or combine it with sans-serifs as diverse as Bureau Grot or Marat Sans. You can try Custer RE and any other typeface on Webtype free of charge for 30 days. For more details, see the Custer RE webfont page.
The text of the main specimen is taken from “The House Beautiful” by William Channing Gannett in the 1897 edition designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the architecture book Berlow based his design on.