Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Benguiat style

Elaine and I dug the signage in this next-to-last episode of Route 66:

[From the Route 66 episode “Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way: Part 1,” March 6, 1964.]

And more recently, we dug the titles in the 1960s educational film You Be the Judge:

I was ready to issue a call to help, but I think I’ve answered my question: the designer behind this kind of lettering, though not necessarily these letters, would appear to be Ed Benguiat. The key word: interlock. House Industries’s Ed Benguiat Font Collection has an Interlock font (with nearly 1,400 ligatures) that pays homage to Benguiat’s work. Here is One minute ’til three in Ed Interlock:

I now realize that Benguiat’s interlocking letters are a trace element in Frank Holmes’s cover design for the Beach Boys’ album SMiLE. And now I’m trying to figure out where else I’ve seen interlocked lettering. Other album covers? Cereal boxes? I am in search of lost type.

Where have you seen interlocked lettering?


11:07 a.m.: There’s something similar in a poster for A Hard Day’s Night.

Related reading, sort of
All Route 66 posts (Pinboard)

[You Be the Judge, produced by Crisco, stars a young Bonnie Franklin. She and a girlfriend engage in a cook-off with a couple of goofy boys. The girls use Crisco and measure carefully, while the boys make a catastrophe of their dishes. And then the girls throw the contest. Some education. The film is available in the educational-film compilation How to Be a Woman (Kino). This DVD and the companion How to Be a Man include several films from Centron Corporation, whose employees created the great 1962 film Carnival of Souls.]

comments: 7

Sean said...

I don't know if this qualifies, but my first thought went to what was meant to be a 3-hour tour:


Anonymous said...

The font reminds me of "Gilligan's Island." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilligan's_Island
Too much of a stretch?

Paul said...

I am big fan of Ed Benguiat Interlock typeface/font and he and HI did a great job with those ligatures.

I too have seen this everywhere. Most recently in an old Smith-Corona ad (not sure where I saw it though). But if memory serves, I believe one version of the opening credits of "Lost In Space" used this style as well. Also... I think the cereal Quisp used it in its early designs.It was definitely popular between 1965 and 1968.

A lot of typefaces were influenced by this and Benguiat's other typefaces (and certainly other designers) which played with angle and weights of letters. I think the titles for The Brady Bunch, Gilligan's Island (as mentioned), and I Dream of Jeannie (and I am sure others) shared these influences.

I would love to know the evolution of these types of fonts.. I call them the "jumbled fonts". Saul Bass's hand lettered fonts were definitely known for imperfect angles... and from his early work (mid-1950) through the early 1970s, you have all of these typefaces/fonts (both serif and sans serif) which incorporate this. Some of the fonts I can think of first hand which have this "jumbled" look (and maybe a slight bit of interlocking too) are Beatsville, Bachelor Pad, Andersen Stingray.. But there are countless others.

Michael Leddy said...

Paul, thanks for your well-informed comments. Those titles and fonts (I found them all) are very much in the same spirit. Thanks especially for Quisp.

Michael Leddy said...

And thanks, Sean and Anon. I don’t know why I forgot to say that.

misterbagman said...

Hi, Michael. I found my way here through your Roger Bradfield post this morning.

Without having known of Benguiat's interlocking letters by that terminology until this morning, I have nevertheless enjoyed the loopy Sixties retro vibe of Spongebob Squarepants title cards. They sometimes employ similar typographical stunts. See, e.g.:



I truly love reading your blog and discovering new things to celebrate and explore. I can no longer spot a pocket notebook without thinking of your benign obsession with them.

Michael Leddy said...

Thanks for those words, sir.

And thanks for sharing the Spongebob images. It’s great when those touches click.