FontShop, the digital fonts reseller, has long been within spontaneous combustion distance of the typographic sun. So when it published its catalog of the 100 Best Typefaces of All Time it was worth noting.
The criteria for their assessment were:
Sales figures: 40%
Historical significance: 30%
Aesthetic quality: 30%
The jury they assembled to make subjective judgements was impressive:
Roger Black (Danilo Black, Inc., USA)
Stephen Coles (Typographica, USA)
Jan Middendorp (Publizist, Berlin)
Veronika Elsner (Elsner + Flake, Berlin)
Bertram Schmidt-Friderichs (TDC, Mainz)
Ralf Herrmann (TypoForum, Weimar)
Claudia Guminski (FontShop, Marketing, Berlin)
You should know too that their rankings “…Did not include free fonts or components from operating systems or software (Arial, Verdana, etc.), but focused exclusively on licensable printers’ typefaces. Types which, over the centuries, have been interpreted individually by several different foundries (Bodoni, Garamond, Futura and so on) were judged collectively and included as a single entry.”
I like this list a lot—to me, it provides a clear vision of where we’ve been and sense of where we’re going. Be certain to click the names—each listing has in in depth article associated with it.