Struggling Choosing Fonts for a Book re: Early 20th C American Motorcycles

zacksimons's picture

Hi All,
Long time listener, first time caller here. I am struggling choosing typefaces for a coffee table book that I am redesigning. The book is about Indian Motorcycles, the first American Motorcycle brand. The majority of the "story" or information takes place in 1900-1960 America.

I'm trying to put together a typographic palette that has a somewhat mechanical/industrial feel that suites the general Americana theme but that has a bit more contemporary flavor. Originally I was toying around with the idea of Franklin/News Gothic or perhaps Rockwell for titling and something along the lines of Benton Sans for body.

Where I'm really struggling is coming up with a pairing (titling/body) that is not overly expected or stale. Any suggestions or ideas are welcome, I'd really appreciate it.

Thank you.

Nick Shinn's picture

Metro as sans, Excelsior for text.

Those are authentic faces from the era, but lesser used than the ones you mentioned.

For a present day interpretation, consider my Brown (sans) with Eames (serif) — these styles have a subtle finish informed by the letterpress media of that time.

For a newer look in a retro vein, Brandon Grotesque (sans) is gorgeous, but in a modernist layout with just the one face, otherwise the small x-height may be too quaint.


Trevor Baum's picture

Trade Gothic, especially bold condensed, is beautiful for titling. Maybe a slab serif like Eames or Sentinel would be nice for the body.

zacksimons's picture

Thank you both for your responses and suggestions.

Nick, the idea of Brown and Eames is quite interesting as is Brandon Grotesque. I will investigate those all further.

Trevor, I had the same idea earlier w/ Trade but eventually decided against it because it is so commonly used, sentinel was one I had not considered though, so thank you.

Would something along the lines of Bureau Grotesque or Knockout be relevant to this application, perhaps paired with one of the aforementioned slabs for body—Eames or Sentinel?

Thanks again for the feedback. Much appreciated.

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