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National Old Style and Nabisco [Frederic William Goudy]

Two Goudy fonts, from 1916 and 1921, respectively. Goudy wrote about them, as reported in A Half-Century of Type Design and Typography: 1895-1945, Typophiles Chap Books XIV, 1946 at pages 99 and 110:

  • National Old Style (1916). Clarence Marder asked me later that same year whether I could use the lettering I had done for the National Biscuit Company in 1901 or 1902 and make a type approximating it in character. I called his attention to the fact that the lettering he referred to consisted of capitals only, and while it would be easy enough to make a type of those, it would be more difficult to make a lower-case which would not be rather freakish to go with them. However, I went ahead with the design, adding a lower-case in harmony with the capitals, and it is shown in the specimens of the company. I see it occasionally in printing; one use of it, I recall, is on the cover and title page of _Graphic Arts_ issued by the _Encyclopaedia Britannica_ for a selection of articles from its 14th edition. It has also been used for captions for movies, owing to its strong but even color. As a display letter it probably compares favorably with many others we could do without.
  • Nabisco (1921). In Chicago, in 1901 or 1902, I had hand-lettered the words "National Biscuit Company" for that concern. The commission came through their advertising executive, James Fraser, who did not tell me that twenty-five or more designers also had been given the same commission at the same time. A few days after I had delivered my drawing to Fraser, I received a telephone message from him requesting my presence at his office. On arriving there I was shown some forty other drawings of the same words I had drawn, and was then told that mine had won the competition. If I had known it was a competitive affair I might not have accepted the order at all, although _all_ the drawings were to be paid for. One nice thing occurred when I presented my reasonable bill: Fraser surprised me by tearing it up in my presence, and asked me to make out another for double the amount. Practically twenty years later, the New York advertising representatives of the company asked me to make a type for the National Biscuit Company, using letters of the character of those drawn so long before. I didn't like to tell them that I was not sure those letters were the sort that would make a good type to use for their announcements, booklets and advertisements; or that, since I had already made a type for the American Type Founders Company along the same lines, I feared any new attempt might prove too reminiscent of that type. However, I made drawings and had several sizes engraved by Wiebking. The Company named it "Nabisco" and used it frequently for booklets and small advertisements. Of late years I have not seen it so often, but I imagine it still is in occasional use. In 1912 one day while seated at my desk on Madison Avenue, a man came in with a package under his arm. He said he was a lithographer, and had an order to reproduce a drawing which by constant use over a period of years was in pretty bad shape for satisfactory reproduction ; he wondered if I could make a good copy of it for him. On opening the package I was amazed to find it was the original drawing I had made in Chicago in 1901 for the National Biscuit Company!

Mac McGrew: National Oldstyle was designed by Frederic W. Goudy for ATF in 1916. It is based on lettering he had done about fifteen years earlier for National Biscuit Company, hence the name. It was moderately popular for a while for publication and advertising display work, and for titles for silent motion pictures. Compare Nabisco.

Mac McGrew on Nabisco: Nabisco was designed by Frederic W. Goudy in 1921 as a private type for National Biscuit Company, based on hand-lettering of the company name he had done about twenty years earlier. As he had in the meantime drawn National Oldstyle (q.v.) for ATF, based on the same lettering, this typeface is consciously different although retaining the same general characteristics. Several sizes were cut by Robert Wiebking. The baking company was pleased. and used it frequently for several years.

For a revival of National Oldtsyle, see National Oldstyle NF (2014, Nick Curtis).

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Typography ⦿ History of type ⦿ Silent movie fonts ⦿ Frederic William Goudy ⦿ Nick Curtis ⦿








file name: Frederic Goudy Nabisco 1921


file name: Frederic Goudy Nabisco 1921


file name: Frederic Goudy National Old Style 1916


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file name: Frederic W Goudy National Oldstyle 1916g







Luc Devroye ⦿ School of Computer Science ⦿ McGill University Montreal, Canada H3A 2K6 ⦿ lucdevroye@gmail.com ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org/fonts.html