Beer is best.

Here's a weird thing. Picture Post Magazine, 1951. An anonymous advertiser buys a quarter-page ad for beer. Not any particular beer, or any particular pub. Just the idea of having a beer on the way to wherever you're going. A beer. Not a bunch of beer. Forget idiot college bros who start out as jackasses and turn into willing felons after a few. A chap can have a beer and still be a "gent".

In a city like London, where you can get around without driving, it's not such a scary idea. It's more of a public service announcement. Please enjoy.

This ad makes a strange combination of two fonts. The first one is a simple sans-serif that's a lot like Two Cent MT (but not exactly), which is a favorite of mine. It's a classic Fifties font that you see a lot in pamphlets and informational materials from the era. "have a beer on the way" No capitalization or punctuation. Odd. The second font is Cooper Black, which, as it turns out, was released by Barnhart Brothers & Spindler type foundry in 1922. But Cooper Black is usually more associated with The Hated Seventies, as it was used heavily on everything from T-shirts to posters at the time.

Companies that developed fonts weren't calling themselves "foundries" as an affectation back then, like they do now. In the days of offset printing, the letters of a font were cast in steel and arranged by hand to spell out the text. So, if you were a font company, your product was designed in-house and distributed in the form of little steel letters, which were cast in your own foundry. So, the word "foundry" applies. Pretty cool.

There's a novel that uses a set of offset letters as a critical plot point, if you're into that sort of thing. Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Book Store sounds like a young adult genre novel, and I guess it kind of reads like one, too. I've read it, and it's fun and light. Just not great. It's definitely got interesting things in it. A secret society and a global puzzle with a fortune at stake. There's thing thing about a famous typeface called "Gerritzoon" being a precious, long-lost artifact that must be located. It's about technology and new media, and it uses the worn-out plot device of potential immortality, which is kind of lame. I won't spoil your disappointment by telling you what makes a person immortal. I'll let the book disappoint you. Hint: It's something an eighth-grader would have come up with, thinking it was savagely clever. It's not. Here's a review by the NYT  on the book.Bottom line, if you're a fontophile, go and read it. Or, just spend the money on a decent twelve-pack of something brewed in small batches.

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Steve Miller said...
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Steve Miller said...

I'd identify the first font as Gill Sans, THE prototypically British font, and the first font I ever consciously noticed -- way, way back when I was just knee-high to a type drawer. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gill_Sans

Yeah, that ad is weird in its generic-ness. But it does make me want a beer. Or a stout. Something from a tap, anyway.

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