Turkey: Ataturk - the Font
Helvetica, Caslon, Times New Roman, Ataturk. Yes, to the list of the fonts found on your computer, you can now add one named after Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, modern Turkey's secularizing founder, and inspired by his handwriting. Reports the Hurriyet Daily News:
An entrepreneur in the northwestern province of Bursa has developed a digital font for Microsoft Word documents that mimics Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s handwriting.
It is a deficiency for Turkey not to have a font in the style of Atatürk’s handwriting, when thousands of fonts exist, said Murat Özbalcı, entrepreneur. “I have answered more than 200 phone calls just today, and thousands of people have visited our website to download the font. I am not attempting to copyright the font, and am not demanding royalties. I just want to be remembered as the one who transformed Atatürk’s handwriting for use online,” Özbalcı told the Hürriyet Daily News today.
Ataturk's most famous piece of handwriting -- which may have served as an inspiration for the eponymous font -- is his distinctive signature, found on everything from statues and marble plaques to the tattooed forearms of young Kemalists and iPhone cases. Interestingly, it turns out that the signature doesn't actually belong to Turkey's founding father, but rather was the creation of an Armenian high school teacher who was asked to design a unique John Hancock for Ataturk in 1934. From another HDN report:
While few Turkish citizens would fail to recognize the leader’s signature, even fewer know that an Armenian Turk created the iconic signature – in just one night.
“It was early in the morning. Someone knocked on our door. Worried, my mother came back telling my father that police was asking for him,” Dikran Çerçiyan, the 90-year-old son of the signature’s creator, Hagop Vahram Çerçiyan, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review in recalling the day in 1934 when authorities came looking for a master signature maker.
Hagop Vahram Çerçiyan worked as a teacher for 55 years at Istanbul’s prestigious Robert College, overseeing the graduation of 25,000 students, including former Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit, former foreign ministers Selim Sarper and Turgut Menemencioğluları and former Cabinet minister Kasım Gülek.
Though teaching math and geography at Robert College at the time, Çerçiyan had also gone to the United States to learn the Palmer Method, a system of handwriting that became popular in the country. Upon his return to Turkey, Çerçiyan also taught the method at Robert College.
After the Turkish Republic was formed on Oct. 29, 1923, the country’s leaders set about trying to remake and modernize the country. As part of changes aimed at nation-building, the government decreed that all citizens should take a last name, which did not exist in Ottoman times.
Mustafa Kemal, duly, took the surname Atatürk, meaning father of the Turks.
With the 1934 adoption of the surname law, many of Çerçiyan’s former students-turned-parliamentarians, became convinced of the need for the Republic’s founder to develop a signature to accompany his new name.
“The students of my father who were then members of Parliament decided to present him with proposals for a signature. The decision was conveyed to my father by the police commissioner in Istanbul’s Bebek neighborhood,” said Dikran Çerçiyan, who still recalls the day.