Filmotype Specimen Pages on Flickr

  • Fonts in Use
Fonts in Use | Yves Peters | July 3, 2013

As a logical extension of my previous post, here is some authentic vintage font porn from James Pucket. This self-professed “craftsman of typefaces in the American tradition” is founder of Dunwich Type Founders and responsible for Daily Type Specimen, a Tumblr whose name is pretty self-explanatory. James recently scanned over thirty Filmotype specimen pages at glorious 8 megapixels and uploaded them to Flickr.


Stuart Sandler’s Filmotype machine. Photo © Michelle Perham

Introduced by its founders Allan and Beatrice Friedman, Filmotype initially manufactured a simple manual phototype machine utilizing display typeface designs on 2-inch filmstrips (the iMac of the 1950s). Additional films were sold to start-up typesetting companies in order to increase their product selection. With over 500 display alphabets to choose from, the user could set headlines on photo paper or film. Filmotype eventually went on to become Alphatype until the Mac came along in 1984 and made photo typesetting go the way of the dodo.

Seven years ago the leading retro typography design firm Font Diner acquired this amazing photo film alphabet collection. With the help from type designers like fellow Typophile and friend Mark Simonson, script master Alejandro Paul, Canada Type’s Patrick Griffin, Charles Gibbons, and others, Stuart Sandler set out to release the Filmotype library in OpenType format to fully realise the original designs with a dynamic feature set including alternate glyph forms and automatic substitution of ligatures.

In his 2006 press release Stuart Sandler clarified:

We are pleased and proud to reintroduce this unique font collection to an entirely new generation of graphic designers. I have seen a disturbing trend in our typeface design industry as more fonts are being poorly digitized from vintage specimen showings. I believe it is important to protect and preserve the future of this historically important collection, numbering well over 500 unique designs.

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