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License Plate Fonts of the United States, Canada, and Mexico [Ward Nicholson]

Ward Nicholson of Leeward Productions in Wichita, KS, explains many license plate fonts. He also gives a quick rundown of available license plate fonts, as of 2008:

  • First USA (Mid-1990s): Brand Design Co./House Industries, discontinued, included for historical interest.
  • Garage Gothic (1992, Font Bureau): Tobias Frere-Jones, commercial. Three weights. Based on parking garage ticket lettering but very reminiscent of license plate characters.
  • Keystone State (1999): Anuthin Wongsunkakon, commercial. One of two fonts in this list based on Pennsylvania's license plate font (see also “Pennsylvania” a littler further below). Keystone State “Relative” (shown immediately below) is a cleaned-up version of the typeface, while the original “Native” style is rougher and more idiosyncratic to realistically replicate the actual plate lettering.
  • License Plate (2005): Dave Hansen, free. Replica of Washington state's font, and also similar to font designs of other U.S. states and Canadian provinces that exhibit more “boxy” curves as opposed to oval-shaped ones.
  • Misproject (2001): Eduardo Recife, free. Grunge font made from scans of an assortment of license plate characters.
  • Motorway (2004): Vic Fieger, free. Semi-grunge font with built-in relief shadow to simulate embossing.
  • Penitentiary Gothic (2001): Andrew Leman and Richard Lucas, commercial. Replica of California's font. Five styles including three-dimensional embossing effects. Plain “Fill” weight shown here (embossing effects reproduce well only at larger sizes).
  • Pennsylvania (2000): Christian Schwartz, commercial. Based on Pennsylvania's license plate font. Four weights including lowercase plus corresponding small-caps styles, and suitable for use in both text and display. Regular weight shown.
  • Plate.fsh (1999): John Arnstrom (aka Zacadeb), free. For use with the Need for Speed: High Stakes auto racing video game for Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Windows.
  • SAA Series “A” (1980): designer unknown, digitized by URW staff, commercial. Very similar in design to the various fonts based on oval-shaped curves used by many U.S. states and Canadian provinces. Seven weights, “Series A” shown. Buy it here.
  • SNV Extra Condensed (1972): designed by Verein Schweizer Straßenfachmänner foundry, distributed by URW, commercial. Similar to fonts of U.S. states that use straight strokes for the left and right sides of characters that would otherwise be curved, as used by various U.S. and Canadian states. Three weights, Extra Condensed shown.
  • Zurich Extra Condensed (1990): Bitstream staff, commercial. A slightly modified clone of Adrian Frutiger's well-known Univers from 1956, utilized by 3M corporation as the basis for the default fonts for its digital license plate system sold to U.S. prisons. Two weights as used by 3M, Extra Condensed shown here.

EXTERNAL LINKS
License Plate Fonts of the United States, Canada, and Mexico
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INTERNAL LINKS
Map/Travel dingbats ⦿ Type scene in Kansas ⦿








file name: Richard Lucas Andrew Leman Penitentiary Gothic 2003


file name: Richard Lucas Andrew Leman Penitentiary Gothic 2003b


file name: Richard Lucas Andrew Leman Penitentiary Gothic Fill 2001


file name: Tobias Frere Jones Garage Gothic Black 1992


file name: Tobias Frere Jones Garage Gothic Bold 1992


file name: Tobias Frere Jones Garage Gothic 1992


file name: Tobias Frere Jones Garage Gothic Black 1992c


file name: Dave Hansen License Plate 2005


file name: Brand Design Co First U S A 1990s


file name: Christian Schwartz Pennsylvania 2000


file name: Anuthin Wongsunkakon Keystone State Relative 1999


file name: Vic Fieger Motorway 2005


file name: U R W S N V Becker 1994


file name: S N V U R W







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