Font ID
May 8, 2012 11:28 AM   Subscribe

Please identify the font(s) in use in this image.

Context: This is from mid-20th century, American-made industrial equipment, which might help narrow some ambiguities.

I think there are at least two fonts in here with the other one starting with the "ABOVE SPEEDS..." section.

I tried some guided font identification tools and they didn't work so well. I need to design a similar item to replace a missing one that contained different info.
posted by DU to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You won't be able to find a typeface match as such because this kind of work was done with stock lettering different from the printing lettering that we now think of as typefaces.

You might try a DIN font as having similar properties.
posted by zadcat at 11:57 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's unlikely you'll find the specific typeface(s) but you should have some luck with the following similar-looking options:

Brandon Grotesque Bold
Zeppelin Bold
Sackers Gothic Heavy
posted by muirne81 at 12:08 PM on May 8, 2012

Arial Rounded MT Bold is kinda close, the capital D is a little more squared off than the rounded D in the image but it might be close enough.
posted by blacktshirtandjeans at 12:15 PM on May 8, 2012

I too was going to suggest Arial Rounded...or maybe a Swiss Round
posted by Eicats at 12:32 PM on May 8, 2012

Engravers Gothic and FHWA Highway Gothic/Interstate are some similar 20th-century utilitarian faces, but zadcat is correct that this is likely not a true "typeface." Also, the rounded effect is more the result of being stamped in metal than a feature of the type design.
posted by stopgap at 1:05 PM on May 8, 2012

Except for being sans-serif and therefore in the same broad category of lettering, any variant of Arial is not even a little bit close and anyone for whom that was the first thought probably ought to reconsider answering questions about typeface matching in the future.

There are probably three fonts. The wide sans, the regular sans at the bottom, and then a different face used for the majority of the numerals on the sign. "1", "2", and "3" under "CONE PULLEY STEP" are in the same wide sans as most of the lettering, but the rest of the numerals are in a different, narrower style with a much more legible "1".

The wide sans and the regular sans aren't from the same family. Note the legs on the "R"s.

You're unlikely to find an exact match, but for that old-school American industrial feel you'd be looking for something from ATF, or inspired by it. Engravers' Gothic is a good match for the feel of the wider sans, but the details on the R, G, and 1 aren't quite right. I tend to like Biondi Sans as a general Engravers' substitute.

Benton Sans would not a terrible fit used in different weights across the whole sign.

Akzidenz Grotesk is way too German, but AG Old Face is actually remarkably close on the letters. Not so much on any of the numerals.
posted by zjacreman at 2:11 PM on May 8, 2012

I suspect that sign was etched, not stamped. Mine is definitely going to be etched and in brass, not aluminum(?).

A lot of good suggestions in here, thanks.
posted by DU at 2:27 PM on May 8, 2012

Ah yes, I see the 3 fonts now. I don't think I'm going to be as dogmatic as all that. Plus having to buy that many fonts. I think I'm going with the FHWA Series F for the wide and maybe a narrower one for the narrow because it's pretty close and free.
posted by DU at 5:42 AM on May 9, 2012

Oh, in case anyone wants to know. You can get the FHWA fonts (and a bunch of other public fonts from around the world) here:
posted by DU at 5:46 AM on May 9, 2012

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