Quest to create new typeface unearths incredible story

In an increasingly online world it's easy to forget the craftsmanship that goes into things like design, and even the shape of the letters we type.

Not many new fonts are still created today, but thanks to a now-defunct antique store and a series of old handwritten letters, Carolyn Porter was able to piece together a brand new, award winning typeface--even going so far as to write a book about it. 

As a graphic designer some 16 years ago, Porter had been on the lookout for a script that might help her develop a new font, scrounging around various shops in downtown Stillwater, Minn., to see what was available when she noticed a stack of letters written in French.

"I was just out enjoying the day, looking to see what was in the stores," she said. "[When I saw] this fantastic blend of restraint and flourish--I really loved that letter M."

The writing helped her create a font--but she didn't stop there, eventually translating the letters once curiosity got the best of her. 

They were mailed by a man serving time at a labor camp in Berlin during World War II to his daughters in France.

"As I had each letter translated, I had to know more," Porter said. "I had to know more about him, I had to know what happened, and I had to know who returned home."

The man's name was Marcel Heuze, now the namesake of Porter's font. "Marcel" was finished in 2014, with an accompanying book called "Marcel's Letters" published last summer telling the entire story.