In a previous post [see here] I illustrated printer’s flowers. These are delightful individual slugs of type that can skilfully be assembled into magnificent borders. This illustration is from Newdigate’s Book Production Notes, which I have also previously blogged about.
These illustrations are from a wonderful book called Lettering for Advertising, by Mortimer Leach, 1956. In those days (think Mad Men) advertising drawings were done by hand. I’ll have more to show from this book in future posts.
Sufficient to show the example from his example of how to draw Futura by hand.
I live near a town that retains a number of buildings erected in the 1960s/1970s. This signage is so reminiscent of that period, and though I label it ‘sad’, actually there is a nostalgic charm about it, and others.
An article in the Penrose Annual of 1937 by Robert Harling – Necessities and Novelties – led me to the Monotype Type Catalogue, via a quick internet search, to discover more about a type he had designed and commercially produced in 1936 called Kayo.
Harling writes: “Back to novelties, we find that Eric Gill has again adventured into the display world with two new types, one of which, Jubilee, is almost ecclesiastical in its dignity, stability and general decorum, and the other, Kayo, so fantastic as to take us immediately back to the dark ages of so much of the nineteenth-century display typography. Kayo is a dismal type. ..The type was originally named Double Elefans, which had a very pleasant touch of the lampoon about it. The new name, Kayo, is too horribly truthful. ..Typographical historians of 2000AD (which isn’t, after all, so very far away) will find this odd outburst in Mr Gill’s career, and will spend much time in attempting to track down this sad psychological state of his during 1936.”
Well – will we?
What do you think about this ‘lampoon’?
With thanks to Cast of Characters, 1998, and Marian Edmunds (kiss, kiss). Note: The heart was drawn by marian on an iPad using an app.
Another ad from the Library of Advertising. (If you missed the first see here)
UHU Glue is one of the most distinctive brands around, simple use of black on yellow, strong typeface that underscores the strength of the product. Futura dates back to 1927, designed by German printer Paul Renner during a period when designers were looking at ways to create a geometric sans-serif. It may owe its genesis to work by Edward Johnston and his famous alphabet for London Underground
On launch Futura was criticised as being ‘block letters for block heads’ but over 80 years later it still looks good. According to Alexander Lawson, author of Anatomy of a Typeface (Hamish Hamilton, 1990), for whom I am indebted for the basis of this article, ‘the type became enormously successful and instigated a sans-serif renaissance that quickly spread from Europe to the US’.
It inspired other designers, among them Rudolf Koch who designed Kabel, made public also in 1927. Lawson notes that in the lowercase the ‘e reaches back to the VEnetian period in its retention of the slanted crossbar’ while in the uppercase ‘several letters are unique in having slanted stroke endings’.
As an end note Gill Sans was launched in 1928 by Monotype in the UK but, writes Lawson, ‘the American Monotype firm refused to offer the Gill type for the American market’, which is how Futura became so widely used there.