One of the first projects we are doing in my typography class is a type specimen poster based on an assigned typeface. We had to research the history of the typeface and designer and incorporate that information in the upcoming poster. Part of the assignment involves posting our finding to our blogs for critique.Very educational researching this and I honestly wish I had the time (or more assignments like it) to research all the “classic” typefaces. Here’s the copy for my poster and a sample of the typeface for reference:

Franklin Gothic is an extra bold sans serif typeface that is built upon traditional roman letter features. Classified as a “Grotesque” (or “Grotesk”) typeface, a category of early sans serif designs that originated in the nineteenth century. At one point, “Gothic” was defined as “non classical”–meaning not greek or roman. Early American type designers adapted this term to refer to sans serif (non classical) typefaces as “Gothic”. Nowadays, gothic, grotesque and sans serif are frequently used synonymously.

One of the distinguishing characteristics of Franklin Gothic is the thinning of the stroke where the bold stems join the rounds (see the shoulder stroke of the “n”). Like most grotesque typefaces, it features a slight degree of contrast between thick and thin strokes in the letterforms, and the lowercase utilizes the double-story roman “g” and “a”.

Franklin Gothic was designed by American typeface designer, Morris Fuller Benton in 1902. During Benton’s thirty plus years as head of the design department for American Type Founders (ATF), he designed in excess of 200 typefaces, including Broadway, Bank Gothic and ATF Bodoni (the first American revival of the typeface in 1909).

The typeface was named in honor of Benjamin Franklin, who was a typesetter and printer by trade before he became a noted author, scientist, inventor and statesman. Though named in his honor, the Franklin Gothic has no relationship to his handwriting or any typefaces he may have used during his thirty year printing career.

Originally cut in a single-weight, extra bold, International Typeface Corporation (ITC) currently offers 20 different typestyles of Franklin Gothic.


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