Depression Era Typefaces

Nick F.'s picture

I'm a typeface amateur and looking for some helpful advice. I'm looking for suggestions for Depression era typefaces (late 1920s to mid 1930s) that I can use for a website. I've read that Futura and Gotham were commonly used during the Depression. But I'm probably missing out on some other great original or revival typefaces from that era. Thanks so much for your help!

Nick

riccard0's picture

I've read that [...] Gotham [was] commonly used during the Depression

What?

Té Rowan's picture

Looking up "Art Deco" might help, too. Possibly try out a Cheltenham for body copy?

charles ellertson's picture

I've read that Futura and Gotham were commonly used during the Depression.

Better read more accurate sources.

If you want to discover what was *common* in an era -- well, beginning of the 20th Century & later -- look at the magazines of the time. Before that, newspapers. Available in most libraries. IIRC, Life used Bodoni for text...

Martin Silvertant's picture

Isn't Gotham a brand new design anyway?

JamesM's picture

> Isn't Gotham a brand new design anyway?

It was created in 2000, although the designer said it was inspired by lettering on old buildings in New York City, so Futura may have been one of the inspirations.

Martin Silvertant's picture

> It was created in 2000, although the designer said it was inspired by lettering on old
> buildings in New York City, so Futura may have been one of the inspirations.
I know. I'm just puzzled why anyone would think Gotham was used during the depression. Futura looks "retro modern" while Gotham looks genuinely modern.

eliason's picture

It was created in 2000, although the designer said it was inspired by lettering on old buildings in New York City, so Futura may have been one of the inspirations.

Not geometrics like Futura, but rather vernacular gothics in American signage. These (including the Port Authority Bus Terminal signs that were the most direct inspiration) were often all in caps. To my eyes the lowercase letters added to make Gotham look quite contemporary. So I'd say it's legit to use Gotham if trying to evoke the Depression, but it would be more persuasively done in all-cap settings.

It's like saying Bembo was used in the Renaissance: completely wrong, but not completely unhelpful.

Nick Shinn's picture

There was a distinction between display lettering often used for headlines and type used for body text.
To capture the quality of display lettering will evoke the era best.
That is what Neville Brody did in his custom type for Public Enemies: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1152836/

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