Thursday 16 October 2008
This week's crush
This week I've been doing some typeface detective work (with some help from other interested parties). The typeface in question was used for the catalogue that accompanied the Centennial Exhibition of International and New Zealand Art, which opened at the National Art Gallery in Wellington on 10 November 1939.
Printed by Wright & Carman Ltd (177 Vivian Street) the catalogue is a lovely little thing, and the font is what made it for me - the long bars on the capital G, the low-slung em dash, and in particular the quirky vertical tail on the Q.
First up was some fruitless but fun sleuthing on Identifont, where you can try to ID your font through a gradual narrowing process, making calls about bars, spurs, slants and x-heights. Identifont told me that the typeface was Neuzeit Grotesk, an attractive sans serif from 1928, designed by Wilhelm Pischner.
But no! The M is right, but the bar on the G is too short and it lacks the defining characteristic, the vertical tail on the Q. So I went old-school, and typed 'typeface Q vertical tail' into Google. Et voila - the first result was a post on Typophile titled "Geometric text sans w/low x-height and vertical tail on Q - Vogue".
The above sample of text had been uploaded as a mystery image, and people on the forum quickly identified it as Vogue - a typeface designed for the eponymous magazine in 1930, and later released for general use. There doesn't appear to be a digital version of the font out there; but it's part of the 1920s/30s rage for geometric sans serif fonts that gave birth to Kabel and Futura (both close to Vogue, but alas, lacking that vital Q tail.)
So there you go; the tyranny of distance wasn't so terrible that in under 10 years a typeface cut for a fashion mag couldn't end up gracing the catalogue of a (frankly, at that time) provincial gallery on a far-flung island in the Pacific.