Jan van Krimpen was a modern designer of typefaces for books and postage stamps.
Van Krimpen received an art education at the academy of art at The Hague. An early interest in poetry led him in 1917 to publish the poetic works of his friends in a series for which he designed the format. He received a commission from the Dutch post office to draw the lettering for a special commemorative stamp to be printed by the prominent firm of Enschedé in 1923. The success of the design led Enschedé to invite him to design a new typeface for the firm. The typeface he produced, Lutetia (the Roman name for Paris), was the official lettering for an exhibition of Dutch art in Paris in 1927, and its reception led to his lifelong association with the firm.
Van Krimpen's type designs are elegant book typefaces, originally made for manual printing and the monotype machine. Although a good few have been digitised (Romulus, Haarlemmer, Spectrum), the typefaces are only rarely used in publications.
Of special note is the Romulus 'superfamily', consisting of a seriffed font, a cursive, a chancery italic (Cancelleresca Bastarda), a sans-serif, and a Greek in a range of weights. Such an extensive family would have been a first, comparable to today's Scala family. The outbreak of the Second World War disrupted the project before completion. After the war, Van Krimpen was not interested in resuming it.