Font-choice for a typewriter museum

ganesh's picture

Working on a refresh of the museum’s CI focusing on type. The museum architecture is modern, the exhibits obviously are not. I am looking for a flexible, contemporary type family that can carry some of that historic/vintage flavor without looking old fashioned. A contemporary and fresh look with some subtle reference to type/letters/history of writing. Not an easy task. Your ideas are most welcome.

sevag's picture

Lucas de Groot's Thesis comes to the mind. It is quite overused, though.

Renko's picture has a special category dedicated to old typewriters (with a contemporary feel).

ganesh's picture

Thanks for the hints so far. I had discarded Officina and descendants… as they represent the evolution of typewriting and office communication after the typewriter. I am looking for a text-face that breeds some history and brings up the flair of old machines… somewhat along the lines of
but in a contemporary take. A robust serif or slab serif…
Maybe that is asking to much and I will have to settle with a combination of two contrasting fonts for headlines and body type. Sorry for my clumsy description. Not a nativ english speaker.
Please keep the suggestions coming.

hrant's picture

An interesting challenge.

My first thought is that you should choose a super-family with a suitable monospaced component, so you're not stuck with a mono (or having to choose a jarring companion) in case things get complicated.

My second thought is:


Nick Shinn's picture

ITC American Typewriter follows the classic typewriter letter forms, but is cleaned up and proportionally spaced. It has a massive range of weights and styles.

Nick Cooke's picture

I always liked the very underused Aminta for an unusual typewriter type appearance.

Cuboctaedro's picture

You could take a look at some old Emigre typefaces like Base. They are not typewritter typefaces but they may work. Base has a nice monospace version too.

ganesh's picture

Thanks for all comments. Just to make it more clear, I am not looking for any typewriter letter forms.

Igor Freiberger's picture

FB Williams Caslon seems a possible option.
Espinosa Nova also could fit your need.

Nick Shinn's picture

Why *not* typewriter letter forms?
The words “TYPEWRITER MUSEUM” in anything other than typewriter letter forms would be self-contradictory.
Would one title a book on serifed types in a sans?
Surely the point is to brand an identity in the most accessible way, to communicate with the public in the most incontrovertible manner what the nature of the enterprise is.

donshottype's picture

Nick says "Why not typewriter letter forms?"
Well it could look like this:

From one of my unpublished fonts.
But other font makers also have good designs.

Té Rowan's picture

Hmm... an exhibit focusing on type rather than typewriters... And the Myriad/Minion kind of thing won't work?

/me scratches head to blood without finding ideas.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

What about a somewhat proportional typewriter face?

Nick Shinn's picture

I could have sworn there was mention that it was a typewriter museum in the OP!
Oh well…

jidoe's picture

How about Adelle? It comes in a sans version too.

JamesM's picture

I agree with Nick's comments, it seems odd not to use typewriter fonts for a typewriter museum.

And rather than using a typeset simulation I would use actual typewriter type from an old typewriter enlarged, at least for headlines (maybe text in a contrasting typeset font), giving it much more character with the subtle variations in weight, slight imperfections, monospacing, etc. For a more contemporary feel you could use graphic techniques like reversing it out of a background, colors, etc.

donshottype's picture

Hi James, I like your idea. There is a web world of typewriter aficionados who hunt down old typewriters -- google "typosphere" -- and publish the results of their typing on them -- google "typecast."
A fascinating alternative to using modern fonts would be to contact some of these people and ask if they would type text for the museum on their vintage machines. It could then be scanned and the result -- complete with variations in darkness, alignment etc. -- would be a true homage to the typewriter. I suspect that most of these people would be prepared to work for almost nothing or even for free. Extreme dedication to promoting public awareness and appreciation of typewriters is their vocation.

JamesM's picture

I never heard of "typosphere" before, but I'll Google it as you suggest.

I've got several old typewriters in my attic that belonged to my father and grandfather, two of them dating back to the 1930s or 1940s, I think. I'll have to get them out one of these days.

ganesh's picture

Sorry… I come back somewhat late.
Thanks for all the suggestions which I greatly appreciate.
Agree with your thoughts, Nick. I forgot to mention however, that logo and lettering for the museum are already given and cannot be altered.
For body text, folders, exhibition panels, and other communication needs, including web, I can’t see typewriter letterforms to work.
@jidoe Yes, Adelle could be an option or Vitesse by H&FJ
@Té Rowan »an exhibit focusing on type rather than typewriters« Misunderstanding. My fault. The focus on type refers to my approach — not the museum’s. Typewriters (and the type they produce) are the core content of the museum. Pictures, including details and closeups of both old typewriters and their output (scans as suggested) are already used profusely in all the advertising materials. What I am looking for now is a consistent form of presentation (print, screen, web) in which type (descriptions, articles, basically all types of editorial stuff) will have a prominent role.
Apologies again for my poor english.

quadibloc's picture

I could suggest Century Schoolbook, because IBM's monospaced Bookface Academic looked like it, if one is looking for a non-typewriter face that sort of suggests typewriting.

So I'm badly confused here.

Also, I know that someone digitized a personal-use face from one of IBM's proportionally-spaced Executive typewriter typestyles, but that seems to be the opposite of what you want. I'm thinking of the F25 font by Volker Busse.

Té Rowan's picture

Vernon Adams's Cutive is similar, listed as based on IBM Executive "and the older 'Smith-Premier'."

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