(x) Like Optima but Not - VGC Stettler, Baker Sans {Mark S}

bwhetsell's picture

I've tried and tried, but I can't figure this one out. It looks somewhat like Optima, but not exactly. It appeared on a mid-1970s book cover (Robert Adams, The New West) and a mid-1980s book cover (Jennifer Bartlett, Rhapsody).

bwhetsell's picture

Adding image of "Rhapsody" and link to much larger version on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/brewbooks/1228669750/sizes/o/

bwhetsell's picture

Adding sample of Optima for comparison

bowfinpw's picture

1970's is pre-digital (and I agree it's not Optima), so I have been trying to look in Photo-Lettering catalogs and books showing film types. So far I have not found a good match. This is one that Mark Simonson might know, since he has some more of the older books.

- Mike Yanega

bowfinpw's picture

Radiant from Red Rooster is similar but a bit condensed. If you graphically flattened/widened Radiant you might be close. It even has an alternate R that looks like the album typeface.

- Mike Yanega

Mark Simonson's picture

It's an old VGC face called Stettler. I think that was the only weight that was done. It's the only weight I've ever seen, anyway. Don't know if there is a digital version.

Here's what the whole font looks like:

Mark Simonson's picture

Now that I look at this again, I think the type on the second book is some other typeface. The first one's definitely Stettler, though.

Mark Simonson's picture

I think the other one is Baker Sans Display. This was also a VGC face.

This is the best sample I have of that, which unfortunately doesn't show the whole font:

It's more or less a thick and thin version of Helvetica. There were other weights, too.

Mark Simonson's picture

More Baker Sans stuff... There were three styles: Fineline, Display and Monoline. Notice that the Monoline is practically identical to Helvetica. The other two differ in the amount of stroke contrast. It's an interesting concept, but I've rarely seen any of them in use. Not too common in type specimen catalogs, either. At least the ones I have. I think the designer may have been Ray Baker. Probably not Arthur Baker, but I really don't know. I don't think any of them have been digitized.

bowfinpw's picture

I knew you would be the one to answer this Mark. Nice work, and thanks for posting samples.

- Mike Yanega

bwhetsell's picture

Thanks very much , Mark - and you're absolutely right, the fonts are different

Mark Simonson's picture

It would be interesting to see what Optima "mono" would look like...

bwhetsell's picture

Arial? - - -

Oh the horror!

Mark Simonson's picture

Actually, I think it would look more like Gill Sans.

peter_bain's picture

@Mark S (and anyone else)

The VGC Baker Sans Series was designed by Arthur Baker, with an introduction from Frank Romano on the copy I have. It's a great precursor of Noordzij's ideas, there's a matrix of 12 variations: "His eye sees a fineline and a mono as poles apart;..."

Mark Simonson's picture

Peter, thanks for the info. What's the "copy" you're referring to? A brochure? Any idea when it was released?

peter_bain's picture

@Mark S

There were some promotional specimen sheets (undated, unfortunately) issued by VGC for their new releases and I was able to make photocopies when I ran across them. But didn't find what looked like a complete set.

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