Vintage Fonts

Discussion in 'The Reading Room' started by Bombshell Becca, Oct 8, 2009.

  1. shindeco

    shindeco A-List Customer

    For period fonts that are not display fonts you can download the free fonts from here (the "Oldstyle" family is taken from a 30s linotype catalogue):

    http://www.cthulhulives.org/toybox/PROPDOCS/PropFonts.html

    Note that they sell a CD that has all the fonts but you can download a smaller set for free .

    I stumbled on this site several years ago; they do live action role playing games and use the fonts to produce authentic looking props! (They also have a bunch of free prop downloads, too -- the telegram is really well done!)
     
  2. Naphtali

    Naphtali Practically Family

    Messages:
    750
    Location:
    Seeley Lake, Montana
    Those of you who intend to use public domain/no cost fonts for commercial purpose, such as business cards or letterheads, please be aware. Most fonts, commercial and public domain/no cost, are not well shaped. They tend to have poor-to-no kerning pairs (space between consecutive characters), no font-generated small caps or special characters. TrueType fonts are, as a rule, unacceptable for quality printing. It used to be that photoimagesetters did not render, or print, TrueType fonts. Many shops would not accept jobs where this font format was used. I don't know if the situation has changed.

    When creating anything for offset print output that is remotely decorative in look, such as business cards, letterheads, print advertising art, etc., to not use a page layout or graphic application having precise control of kerning, tracking, baseline, etc. is a set-up for amateurish work at worst, mediocrity at best.

    An easy example of to what I refer: Look at business cards. Kerning pairs of periods, commas, hyphens, en dashes, and em dashes with characters on either side often have bizarre spacing - that is, software used the mathematical space surrounding characters rather than using optical space. The result is some characters are optically not centered in their virtual bound box; they are skewed to one side of it, which causes characters on either side to appear too close or too distant for optically pleasing esthetic look. Well-conceived fonts take this software flaw into account and create special space relationships between many characters. Warning: The special relationship changes with change in point size - that is, different point sizes require different spacing between kerning pairs.

    Sorry I took so much space to identify a potential problem. Seeing poor work, work achieved by using sophisticated applications in default mode, using inadequate software for intended result wanted - this offends me. It is easy to do the job correctly, or to hire someone to do it, again assuming the hiree understands typography. I cannot help myself. When I am given a business or calling card, when I receive correspondence, if the look and feel of the offering is amateurish, my hackles go up. The offerer is most likely amateurish at what he does - at least, that's what I instinctively feel.

    Just some thoughts I hope will help.
     
  3. shindeco

    shindeco A-List Customer

    Naphtali,

    Great post, thanks!

    Now you have me intrigued...what do you recommend instead?
     
  4. Maj.Nick Danger

    Maj.Nick Danger I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Behind the 8 ball,..
    I've never had any problems with any of the fonts I've downloaded from various sites. True Type or otherwise,....But I do my own printing of business cards and such on my Canon printer and with excellent results. [huh] Is it just a problem in transmitting print jobs to print shops then?
     
  5. Mario

    Mario I'll Lock Up

    It can be become a real problem if you want to work with a pro-level print shop as you need to stick to a set of real strict specifications. That's why I always prefered to work with video/compositing/3D animation software.
     
  6. Naphtali

    Naphtali Practically Family

    Messages:
    750
    Location:
    Seeley Lake, Montana
    Were you to want to do the job yourself rather than farm it out to a competent graphic designer - competent being the key word since you must be able to judge competence - step one is to identify the quality of the work you must have. Given their druthers, everyone wants a perfect job. Question is: What will you accept? If you are ouptputting work to home-office printer rather than offset printer, just enjoy what you accomplish.

    Let's assume you want a crackerjack job that you do yourself.

    1. There are several books on typography available. Read several to understand what you need to do. Fortunately typography ain't rocket science. It's about good taste and knowing what results you want when laying out art. Be thankful we're in the age of computers rather than when typography was a guild/union skill.

    2. Acquire a good page layout or illustration application, such as, QuarkXPress, InDesign, Illustrator, Freehand (Is this still made?). There are many others, most of which I have never used. What you're looking for includes: ability to manipulate characters in at least two dimensions within their mathematical space (kerning, tracking, baseline); ability to adjust character size severely and precisely (QXP can make adjustments in hundredths of an em space, hundredths of a point - you get the idea); ability to control graphic elements on your layout as precisely as characters; ability to control line (text) characteristics per previously described. Here's the deal: Acquire good software, and what you'll need and want in the way of control will be available. But you must learn how to make the software "sing." Most of the mediocre output I notice occurs when acceptable software is used in default mode. Default guarantees a not-so-pretty-good job.
    ***
    (I appreciate letterpress printing, but using computer-created layouts via letterpress is something we don't want to think about.)
    ***
    3. You'll need typefaces ("fonts" in computer-speak, a font being, in reality, a specific set of characters within a typeface - Times boldface being a font; Times being the typeface; and there are a bazillion Times typefaces. Watch yourself here.

    I own more than 1700 typefaces. Ninety-eight percent of my camera-ready art is done in perhaps 20 typefaces. Display fonts (we'll revert to computer-speak) are great to be able to show to prospective clients, but so long as you recognize that the essential purpose of type, of text, is to communicate ideas, you'll recognize that readable text is more important than its being glitzy or interesting.

    Well-recognized brand names tend to have acceptable fonts in their libraries. I prefer: fonts having special characters and font subsets, such as small caps, titling caps, fractions creators, ornaments, etc.; multiple master fonts can useful (for me). My fonts are PostScript Type 1 and Unicode. I am no expert with Unicode fonts, so I use PS unless one of my Unicode fonts is specified.

    A quick and dirty way to check for quality is to use a [true] 1200 dpi printer to print large point size sample of fonts you are considering - say 48 points. If output looks irregular or ragged, it is.

    Most better fonts incorporate kerning pairs into the package in the 10-14 point range. How many pairs? It varies significantly, but no non-custom created font will have enough. It's too expensive. That's where your application's precision adjustments pay off. If you do layout for a living, you can create kerning/tracking sets in many applications and save the set for use in that application anytime. Otherwise, just do your one off in its specific job and don't worry about it.

    Now for something encouraging. Many print shops will furnish fonts that can be used by your software to create camera-ready art at no cost. You do the creative work, take the art to the shop, and they'll print it. You need not invest hundred/thousands of dollars in fonts.
    ********
    If your job is not too complex/time consuming, induce a friend who knows what he's doing to do the work, and say thank you. This works most of the time because business cards and letterheads, for example, are not a big deal. Mediocre vendors maintain templates (in default mode, of course); others maintain templates plus kerning/tracking subsets that allow quick and dirty to be a clean job.
    ***
    I know I've been didactic, probably insultingly so. I apologize. A Supreme Court justice has been quoted regarding pornography: I know it when I see it. I feel the same way about what we have been discussing.

    If you need more focused information or advice, PM or E-mail me.

    Hope this has helped.
     
  7. Eyemo

    Eyemo Practically Family

    Messages:
    766
    Location:
    Wales
    Period fonts..

    Not sure where to put this..but here goes...

    Looking for a 30's 40's Deco style font for our museum....I like the standard type deco font's, but just wonderd if any of you have or seen fonts that are a little different...

    Must be clear and easy to read.....

    Thanks..
    Seimon
     
  8. MissHannah

    MissHannah One Too Many

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    London
  9. skyvue

    skyvue Call Me a Cab

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  10. HepKitty

    HepKitty One Too Many

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    ooh, thanks for this thread and the info!
     
  11. Land-O-LakesGal

    Land-O-LakesGal Practically Family

    Messages:
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    St Paul, Minnesota
  12. Viola

    Viola Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
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    Location:
    NSW, AUS
    I like Betty Noir from Blambot.com, which is free, which is always nice. I also like Thirteen O' Clock, also from Blambot, but it's earlier-style.
     
  13. TheModernLife

    TheModernLife New in Town

    Messages:
    43
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    Eyemo, picking an authentic vintage font can be tricky. I think with all the effort put into your museum, you need the logo to look authentic, not a modern interpretation of what a 40s font would have looked like. A lot of the more decorative fonts, like "Betty Noir," existed, but they were not very widely used and don't generally and honestly represent the period.

    I agree that "Market Deco" (what my avatar logo is set in) is a great vintage font that gets all the details just about right. Other basic modern fonts commonly used (that are still widely available today) are Futura, Century Gothic, or other similar geometric, sans-serif fonts (like Market Deco).

    Look at a bunch of signage or lettering from the period, and post some pics with what you like. I'm sure the graphic designers here can give you more solid advice to font choices if you give more specific examples.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2010
  14. Vintage typewriter fonts are excellent for creating Telegrams on yellow stock
     
  15. CharlieB

    CharlieB A-List Customer

    Messages:
    368
    Location:
    Carlisle, Pennsylvania
    For a typewriter font, I found "1942 Report". Looks just like a slightly-off manual type (the kid I learned on back in the stone age).

    http://www.dafont.com/1942-report.font
     
  16. scottyrocks

    scottyrocks I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
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    Location:
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    I just attempted to download one of these. It came up as a zipped file. Where do I extract it to if I want to use it in MS Word?
     
  17. J.J. Gittes

    J.J. Gittes A-List Customer

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  18. Maj.Nick Danger

    Maj.Nick Danger I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    4,469
    Location:
    Behind the 8 ball,..
    Simply extract it to any place where you can find it readily. I use my desktop. You then have to install it into the system fonts folder. With Windows 7 I simply right click on the extracted font, and click "install" on the menu, and in it goes.
    If you don't have that option with your OS, you have to drag and drop (or copy and paste) the fonts into the fonts folder located in the control panel of all Windows operating systems.
    They are then available to all applications that use fonts such as Photoshop, Office, Corel, etc. and they will be in the drop down list of fonts found in any of these programs.
    Hope this helps.
     
  19. Smithy

    Smithy I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    5,137
    Location:
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    You can't go past P22 Johnston for a great archetypal Golden Era font.
     
  20. Unlucky Berman

    Unlucky Berman One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    180
    Location:
    Germany
    Thank you for this thread and the links. Now I just need some ideas where to use them.

    It's a pitty that it is not usual to use some more interesting fonts for the daily business. Arial and Times NR are really boring.
     

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