50s & 60s Typefaces

tomjhume's picture

Hello all,

Please don't eat me.

Any recommendations for 50s/60s typefaces? I've been using the modern DIN, so something quite rigid & taut. I've been searching, but I imagine your expertise will trump most.

Any sort of help would be brilliant,


oldnick's picture

Stateside, the U.S. Government had a flirtation with Clarendon at the time, but I doubt that this affection carried across the pond…

dezcom's picture

AG was big then,even at the Royal College.

hrant's picture

Since that's pre-digital, geography is key.
So for example if it's France, it's all Excoffon.
Are you looking for Brit stuff?


dezcom's picture

What is the subject matter and audience?

tomjhume's picture

American! Is there an equivalent to grotesque? Or even something sans-serif?

Thanks for the replies so far.

tomjhume's picture

Dezcom, it's a student project for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. I was hoping the type would mirror what would be used in that sort of institution (a hospital), or of a similar epoch.

Indra Kupferschmid's picture

Cheltenham, Bodoni, Excelsior, Ionic or Futura, Metro, Franklin Gothic, Alternate Gothic, Standard, Stymie …

dezcom's picture

"...type would mirror what would be used in that sort of institution (a hospital), or of a similar epoch."

Franklin Gothic, Stymie, Clarendon. Probably all caps. Institutions would be a bit behind the curve so their signage would have looked post war American rather than hip for that time Modernist.

Also, Cuckoos's nest was staged in a NOT private hospital where the patients were probably poor or blue-collar at best. Think along the lines of Trenton NJ instead of upper East-side Manhattan. This was a dismal State Mental Institution with a low budget. Signs should be worn-looking and degraded. That being said, Leroy Lettering would also be a strong candidate.

kentlew's picture

For institutional, I’d take Trade Gothic over Franklin Gothic. Less overt personality.

The Trade Gothic series was relatively new in the 50s & 60s, riding a resurgence of interest in American Gothics after decades of European Geometrics in the mainstream, and would possibly have been more widely used than Franklin Gothic at that time.

dezcom's picture

Kent, I don't think a State mental hospital then would have been likely to ride the "new". Perhaps more Government institutional looking would have been likely?

tomjhume's picture

Thanks to all of you, I will try out both Trade & Franklin, especially. Because the idea is to spark a renewed interest in the novel, Trade might work well.

kentlew's picture

I don’t know that it would have been a matter of “riding the new” as a matter of availability.

Franklin Gothic was primarily a handset face, from ATF. Monotype did have a version of Franklin Gothic for their machine, I believe, but I don’t think it was widely used in that format (could be wrong about that).

Linotype never adapted Franklin Gothic, that I know of. Instead, Trade Gothic was Linotype’s response to this general style and would have been widely stocked in most Lino shops at that time.

So, it becomes partly a matter of what technology was likely to have been used for setting printed matter for a state mental hospital of that era. I’m betting against handsetting or Monotype.

Now, if one is talking signage, then all bets are off, since that would not likely have been type.

dezcom's picture

I was thinking signage, Kent.

Birdseeding's picture

A lot of old hospital signage here in Sweden use machine engraving of various kinds.

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