most used fonts of the last century

Rafael Dietzsch's picture

hi everybody.

i am a member since 2002, but this is the first time i post.

i am doing a research and i was wondering if you can help me, answering a question:

"in your opinion, what are the 10 most popular fonts of the last century?"

please, understand 'popular' as you wish.

thanks
rafael dietzsch

Si_Daniels's picture

Here you go and in order too... Times New Roman, Times Roman, Courier, Arial, Helvetica, Univers, Gill Sans, Verdana, Franklin Gothic, Comic Sans

Tim Ahrens's picture

This may not be exactly what you are looking for but still interesting:

http://www.tdc.org/reviews/typelist.html

http://www.typophile.com/node/8546

Once I heard that Courier was the most frequently used font of the 20th century because it was used on so many typewriters. Can't recall the source, though.

Si_Daniels's picture

>Once I heard that Courier was the most frequently used font of the 20th century

Possible, but it's reign of terror was relatively short... 1955 onwards, hence my placement of Times before it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Courier_%28typeface%29

blank's picture

Does anyone have a list of the most used fonts that doesn't include those used in interoffice and person-to-person communication, ie. Arial, Comic Sans, Courier?

thierry blancpain's picture

Does anyone have a list of the most used fonts that doesn’t include those used in interoffice and person-to-person communication, ie. Arial, Comic Sans, Courier?

i'd say that heavily depends on the region/country you're looking at. i rarely see gotham around here for example, but helvetica is everywhere.
my brother, who has nothing to do with typography except through me, even started to say "oh, thats helvetica, right?" when i tell him about some signage, just because in 99% of the cases, its correct.

ben_archer's picture

This may also be not exactly what you're looking for but interesting anyway...

from Appendix C, "Typeface popularity" in Methods of Book Design by Hugh Williamson, second edn., pub. Oxford University Press, 1966. This was two lists of the twelve typefaces most frequently appearing in the National Book League's Annual Exhibition (of just over 800 books per exhibition) in the postwar years in England.

From 1945-55, in ranking order; Bembo, Baskerville, Times, Fournier, Imprint, Perpetua, Walbaum, Garamond, Bell, Plantin, Poliphilus, Caslon.

From 1956-63, in ranking order; Bembo, Baskerville, Plantin, Times, Fournier, Poliphilus, Garamond, Bell, Ehrhardt, Imprint, Walbaum, Caslon.

The author goes on to say that the top two of these accounted for more than one third of the books exhibited, Bembo being used for over 50% more books than Baskerville, and Baskerville in turn, being used for over 50% more books than Times, it's nearest rival over the whole period.

For my part, please note that Arial, Comic Sans, Courier, Franklin Gothic, Gill Sans, Helvetica, Univers, Verdana etc. appear nowhere here. But then these lists are really just about pre-digital British book typography.

Si_Daniels's picture

>pre-digital British book typography.

Hence all the Monotype faces?

William Berkson's picture

I heard at the Museum of Printing that 70% of printing in the world into the 1960's was done on Linotype machines. As Larry Oppenberg put it to me, they were the 'Microsoft' of its day, dominating the market. Monotype actually had a small portion of the market, mainly a portion of the book market. Hence world wide a different list of Latin faces would be relevant. Also if you just look at sheer volume of print, probably newspaper typefaces from Linotype would dominate.

Dan Gayle's picture

Once I heard that Courier was the most frequently used font of the 20th century because it was used on so many typewriters.

One word: email

(Combine that with the fact that it might be the most accidentally used font of the digital age. Think of all the postscript errors that come out of your printer. I'm tempted to set a whole news page in Courier just to make the prepress guys at my newspaper have a heart attack trying to figure out what's wrong with the RIP.)

ben_archer's picture

(I’m tempted to set a whole news page in Courier just... to figure out what’s wrong with the RIP.)

Heh. My one time client-from-hell actually insisted that a magazine ad campaign headline be set in Courier. I offered detailed explanations and many alternatives, but to no avail. Everyone thought the prepress department had loused up, and it stayed that way for months.

As for Hence all the Monotype faces? well sure, I said those lists were specific to a time and place; William and Thierry make the same point. Rafael's question appears designed to generate alternate responses.

ill sans's picture

Some of the most common typefaces that seem to pop up everywhere (in my opinion) are Copperplate & DIN. I'm also seeing a lot of Brush Scripts & Staccato's (both 555 & 222).
Not really my favourite fonts (except maybe for DIN), but that's what I've been seeing a lot.

Bert Vanderveen's picture

Linotype and Monotype, being competitors, used to have very similar catalogues, eg each had its Bembo, Baskerville, etc. (BTW what has changed nowadays? — they really overlap now…). So I guess that list goes a long way for most of the western world.

Si_Daniels's picture

>Does anyone have a list of the most used fonts that doesn’t include those used in interoffice and person-to-person communication,

Such a list would reflect the bias of a tiny proportion of elite middle-aged white book, magazine and newspaper designers? That's stretching the definition of "popular" don't you think?

William Berkson's picture

>each had its Bembo, Baskerville, etc.

McGrew's 'American Metal Typefaces of the 20th Century" does not list any Bembo for Linotype, and does not mention an equivalent. It did have a Baskerville. By the way, I suspect that Ben's list was first edition hard back books. If you looked at paperbacks in that period--which probably sold more--I think Times New Roman would be much higher on the British list.

cromy's picture

I don't know if someone is interested in Eastern Europe, but for Romania the list can be made by looking at the text faces used in books, most of them before the digital era. The top looks like this, with the most used in the first positions:

1. Excelsior
2. Lateinisch
3. Stempel Garamond
4. Caledonia
5. Monotype Oldstyle 2
6. Ronaldson Oldstyle
7. Didot
8. Plantin
9. Typoart Garamond
10. Candida

Bleisetzer's picture

“in your opinion, what are the 10 most popular fonts of the last century?”

I guess within the 20. century not the digital fonts dominated but the letterpress fonts. And of course a list of most common fonts depends on a question 'Where, in which country?'.

To answer it for Germany, I'ld say:

Helvetica (D.Stempel)
Folio (Bauersche Giesserei)
Garamond (D.Stempel)
Palatino (D.Stempel)
Bodoni (Bauersche Giesserei)
Akzidenz-Grotesk (H.Berthold)
Futura (Bauersche Giesserei)
Super-Grotesk (after 1945 TypoArt)
Garamond (TypoArt)
Lithographia (Bauersche Giesserei)

90 percent of all typesetting departments of letterpress companies we buy, hold above listed fonts. Not all of them but mostly one Grotesk and one Antiqua.

Georg

Preußisches Bleisatz-Magazin

Emiliano Amadei's picture

For Brazil i gotta say:
Arial
Times New Roman
Courier
Comic Sans
Helvetica
Brush Script
Futura
Garamond
AvantGarde
and Bodoni

Emiliano Amadei

Rafael Dietzsch's picture

thanks everybody. this is not very serious yet, but helped a lot.

the link to typo.cz was the kind of result i was expecting.

i've also send this question to mailing list. one thing i could notice (in general) is that many answers mentions only the last 2 decades of the last century (i'd say from 1985 to 2005).

as some people wrote, it also depends where you're at.

regards
dietzsch

Emiliano Amadei's picture

Before 1990, in brazil, at least where i live, there where very few typographers and typesetters, and in a census done by the college i went, the top three results were:
Garamond
Palatino
and a obscure version of Akzidenz-Grotesk
Sorry for the two posts, but i just got this information

Emiliano Amadei

hrant's picture

Rafael, I just saw this old post of yours, and although it would probably no longer be useful to you, I figured to post something somewhat pertinent that might be useful to others:
http://typophile.com/node/13420#comment-77923

hhp

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