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Paul Renner & Morris Fuller Benton


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“We ask of a type disti nctness, clarity and the omitting of all superfluo us elements.

Thus we reach the

demand of a geometrica

l form struc ture.�

Paul Renner

Between the 19th Century transitioning into the 20th Century, there was a need to go to a new direction in design and typography. Technology were advancing and decorative typography weren’t interesting anymore. Two modern typographers became an influence to their country and then to the world with their contributions but lived on separate side of the world.

Paul Renner, a German typographer, graphic designer, painter, and teacher who lived in Germany. He made his mark in typography with his typeface, Futura. Futura is a geometric sans-serif typeface released in 1927. It became a cornerstone of the New Typography in the 1920’s and 30’s. Many geometrically constructed sansserif typefaces were being designed in the 20th Century but Futura stood out in Germany.

Morris Fuller Benton,Morris an American designer Fuller Benton, antype American typeface who revolutionize the type industry with his contribution of over 200 typefaces. He designed original typefaces such as Franklin Gothic and Bank Gothic. He also revived historic typefaces such as Bodoni and Cheltenham. He grew up in print and typography because of his father and that helped me become a well-rounded typograper. Both typographer lived and did their work around the same time period but in different places. Their typefaces are still loved a century later and continue to be used today.


abcdefg hijklnop qrstuvw xyz123 456789 Inspired by the theories of the Bauhaus, Futura’s letter form is based on geometric shapes and agree with the idea of form over function. Renner wanted balance between lowercase and capital letters.


Paul Renner lived during the time of war. Germany was involve with World War II and the Nazi party was reigning over the country. Germany under went but this did not discourage Renner. Renner began his career as a commissioned artist. He painted landscapes for various organizations. He was trained as an artist but he realized his desire to bring industry and art together to become a creative and visually appealing product. This product were things that served a particular role to ease someone’s task. In the time of the early 20th Century, the time of machinery where manufacturing is what matters the most. Renner joined the Deutscher Werkbund(German Work Federation) in 1910. At Deutscher Werkbund, Renner created a new set of guidelines for good book design. Renner befriended a German typographer named Jan Tschicold who was a key participant in the heated ideological and artistic debates during the industrialization of Germany.

They believed there is more to typography than


. Deu

tscher W erkbund




. New



During the 1920’s and 1930’s, Renner was not involve with any specific movements but Renner’s ideology and theories toward art and design were coincidentally similar to the ideas and thoughts of the Bauhaus school and the New Typography movement. They believed there is more to typography than symmetrical columns and very orderly serif layouts. Renner’s typeface Futura is what connected him to the Bauhaus school and New Typography movement.

symmetrical columns

Renner released Futura in 1927, which became popular for text and large display compositions. Futura was well adored because it had a sense of elegance and commanding visual power.


very orderly type layouts. 9

Benton wanted to take American typography out of the Victorian era and shift to something more serious where readability matters. That is what motivated him to create Franklin Gothic and an variant for Century.

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Franklin Gothic might as we

ll be called

the head of

thics. moder n American go

Destined To Work In Type The Benton family originated from Milwaukee, Lake Michigan area where Linn Boyd Benton owned his type foundry before relocating to New York. Morris Fuller Benton was raised in the print and type industry. Benton was an only child and Boyd would show Benton his printing press. Boyd learned how to set type at the age of eleven with the help of his father, so Benton spent some of the years of his youth working at his own printing press in the family home in Milwaukee.

By the age of eleven, Morris designed and printed admission tickets for children’s music classes, tickets for neighborhood shows, receipts for work he did for his father, and booklets. In 1892, Morris entered and attend Cornell University in New York. During the same year, twenty-three A few months after Benton’s graduation, he became his father assistant at the American Type Founders, where he learned about typefaces. Morris did not intend to follow his father’s footstep and work in the type foundry business. In 1900, Benton became the American Type Founders Chief

American type foundries, which included Moriss’s father foundry, combined and form the American Type Founders or ATF in New York. Benton graduated in 1896 from Cornell University with a degree in mechanical engineering. He studied and pursue a degree in mechanical engineering because he felt he wasn’t suited for it.

type designer.


Son of a P riest, P

Renner was a son of a st rict priest, so he grew up in with strict C hristian ethic. an environm ent This may have and intellectua influence his aesthetic of de l skills to help sign shape new lif forms. Renne e in both mat erial and spir r desired to itual influence cult ure by design teacher. Futur ing, writing, a was develo and ped in reacti on to the cult political, and ural, econom social instabili ic , ty.

He did not be lieve that Fut ura was sole expression of ly an his “particular artistic intent his era’s voic ,� but served e. Futura had no decoration or hand written letter s qualities to its characters . Instead, the harmonies of Roman capita ls are used to define the proportions of European min uscule letters.

Paul Renn er Futura sits in European trad itions with it uniformity qu harmonious, alities. Futur a follows the basic geomet proportions of ric no weight stre sses, no serifs long ascender , and features s and descen ders, which m ake it more elegant.

Futura formed on the charac ters that mar ked the origin European scri of pts and would serve to dimin of fonts requ ish the variet ired for prin y ting. The ge neral attitude toward Futur a as an artifa ct of Europea n design of th first half of th e e twentieth ce ntury.


Type design is in

his blood.

He follows his

father footstep into

the type industry.

Son of a Type Designer The advertising and publishing business were enormous, traditional printing shops with type foundries and letterpress were in demand. Much of the type used in advertising and publishing came from Europe. Since the advancement of typesetting, more and more American foundries gain business. He lived in the revolutionary age of type manufacturing where machine were mechanizing type. Benton took advantage of ATF library.

He would diligently research for new typeface ideas. He spent a lot of time in the library and it is in the library, Benton drew inspirations. He begin with studying the previous historic typefaces at American Type Founders typographical library. During his design process of a modern typeface, Benton would conduct extensive research. He firmly believed that through Benton studied original type

research and gathering all the background

founder’s specimen sheets and

information for a new typeface was essential

reads books that included the

to the designer’s job.

printed typefaces in a wide variety of ways. All of Benton resources would be located in the American Type Founders library and museum.


Fr om A rc hi ty pe to St ei le Architype Renner was another set of geom etric sans-serif typeface that included the experiment al alternated characters that were meant to be included with Futura and was the original concept for Futura.

The alternate characters were drawn for lowercase a, g, and r, some punctuation, and uppercase characters for German accents.

Renner did not want to go to the direction of grotesk typefaces while making Futura but later in 1930, Renner release Plak, a typeface with grotesk elements.

Renner is famous and known for Futura but his other typefaces such as Architype Renner, Plak, Ballade, Renner Antiqua, and Steile Futura.

Plak was produced as wooden letter forms, with type sizes from 72 point to 624 point. It was a poster type and was exclusively available in bold weights but in three variants. The widest variant bears some resemblance and similarities for the geometric forms of Futura but the condensed variants, the letters become to be more grotesk-like. Grotesk typefaces adapted best for large-size posters. Renner was always interested in gothic and roman typefaces but advocated more from sans serif until his dismissal from Mieisterschule, then his interest returned.


Of Renner’s su rviving

sketches and Renner’s gothic typeface, Ballade is inspired by the calligraphic

calligraphy, that

traditions, and express the rationalized letter forms of other 1930’s gothic typefaces. Renner roman typeface design, Renner Antiqua was based on his own formal writing. Both typefaces came from Renner desire to discover a middle-ground between gothic and roman type through an

dated after 1933

exploration of shared basis through writings with a broad pen.

Renner was always in gothic and roman typefaces but he

were over half goth ic work.

was a more of an advocate for sans-serif until his dismissal from the Meisterschule, then his interested returned.

Steile Futura once named Renner Grotesk Then came along Steile Futura, originally named Renner Grotesk. It was renamed, so it could be related to the Futura family. Steile spur from Renner’s attempt to design what he called a grotesk typeface. A type that was keen to nineteenth-centur y sans-serifs.

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Steile translate to upright or steep and there was a distinct vertical stress in Steile Futura’s narrow letters. The progress on this typeface was very slow due to Renner’s failing health which resulted in a heart attack in 1948. Renner recovered and released Steile in 1952. In Munich 1956, Renner passed away.


Franklin Gothic was one of Benton first project after he became head of the American Type Founders type design department.


Morris Fuller Benton contributed over 200 typefaces which were

original and other revivals of

historic typefa


The Changer of American Type Design An original typeface by Benton was Franklin Gothic. Franklin Gothic is a sans-serif typeface released in the early 20th Centur y. It came to be from research for typographic originality and this gothic typeface became one of the most popular gothic typefaces in American tpye design and refains an international reputation to this day. Franklin Gothic was one of Benton first project after he became head of the American Type Founders type design depar tment. Even though the foundry already had a variety of gothic typefaces, Benton continue to create his cut of a gothic typeface. He created the designs in 1902 and released the typeface in 1905. Franklin Gothic retained but refined features of 19th Century types such as slight overall narrowness. There is a reduction of line thickness at the junction of stems bowls, and at the head and foot of the circular letters. There are two bowls in the lowercase g It makes an excellent type for

which many 20th Century sans-serif have

children’s books to advertisement.

done way with. Franklin Gothic offered a wide

Franklin work wonders as a display

variants of weights such as italics, condensed,

face, offering many variant weights.

and extra condensed. It has a comfortable

In large scale, it creates strong graphic visuals with clarity and warm characteristic, which were missing

letterfit, which benefit, from increasing the tracking in their heavier weights and condensed fonts. Franklin Gothic has a large x-height

from some 20th Century sans-serifs.

compares to other serif typefaces. This give

Benton revived and added more to

Franklin Gothic good legibility in small sizes.

typefaces that were already designed. 25

abcdefghijkl nopqrstuvw xyz Century was a typeface designed by his father for Century magazine. Benton developed an additional 18 variants for Century. The most successful Century face was Century Schoolbook. It is highly adored because of its excellent readability. Schoolbook was a clean-cut and well-defined. It had no hairlines but was not too bold. It bears deep junctures, full descenders, large counters, and wide serifs. Schoolbook had this softness and clarity. Even against illustrations in children’s book, Schoolbook was readable.

Bank Gothic is a rectilinear geometric sans-serif released in 1930. The typeface is an exploration of geometric forms bearing some elements of latenineteenth engraving typefaces. This typeface was made almost a century ago and is still used today because of its modernist features. Many motion pictures used Bank Gothic for type in trailers and to use as their logotype. Benton is not recognized enough because he was a man who did not want to vocalize his work.

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Futura’s lack of stroke weight variation, had geometric proportio ns of

Roman capitals, and

tall ascende rs...

Challenging Type Design

During the early 20th Century, the printing and type foundry business were the biggest thing in technology. Renner sought technology to purify type design. Futura was a typeface reflecting the machine age and meant to be used for industry. Futura made an impact in printing. It was a new departure for the design of letters for printing.

Futura’s lack of stroke weight variation, had geometric proportions of Roman capitals, and tall ascenders which distinguish it from other contemporary typefaces. Futura’s ascenders in lower-case characters such as letter ‘h’ are taller that the upper-case letters. Since the capitals are smaller on the type body and x-height is related to capital height, the overall visual size of the typeface is reduced and additional white space introduced between the lines of type. Renner’s typeface effected the German Standard Baseline. He knew that moving Since there was no room below the

the standard baseline was unthinkable.

baseline, Renner suggested that the

This would make the German foundry

longer descenders common in old-

industry re-tool and force the printers

style typefaces could be maintained if

re-equip themselves with type.

the designers and foundries would not enlarge the letters to fill the space above the baseline. 29

Challenging Type Usage Benton lived in a world where type manufacturing revolutionize because of Linotye, Monotype composers, and punch-cutting machine. His father is the creator of the matrix-cutting machine and pantographic punch-cutting machine. Their machine revolutionized the production of typefaces.

B The matrix, fixed in a type mold, was then used to cast individual types, again wrong-reading so that they would appear right-reading when printed. As the 20th Century began, increasing numbers of typefaces appeared that were drawn by type designers but produced by separate punch cutters. This trend continued through several technological developments. His typefaces became very valuable in print and advertisement. He would do a extensive research on what’s the best typeface for books and what display face would look good in large scale.


Futura and Franklin Gothic ces today remain being popular typefa

Everlasting Type Designs Renner and Benton, lived in two different sides of the world were making an impact in print and industry desiring typefaces that will never go out of date. Renner wanted to find a common ground between type classifications. Benton had all the types he needed but continue to create his own. Futura provided the precise tool need for professional designer and it became a popular choice of type for text and display composition. To this day, it is continued to Futura is an innovator of its time and

be used by advertising typographers, they

the most successful commercial

would use combinations of Futura Light

German type design from it era.

or Book with Futura Extra Bold because

Futura was a typeface that provoke

it benefit the composition elegances and

modern ideas rather than detonating the revival of previous designs.

provide visual power.. Benton revolutionized type design of the twentieth century in

Futura is an prime example of

America. In the beginning of working at

its time and certainly the most

American Type Foundry, people had little

commercial successful German

faith of his compatibility. But he used

typeface of its era.

knowledge from technology in mechanical

Benton’s typefaces are used in every

engineering and infused it with type for

sort of industries. He showed much

design. Renner could be remembered

care to the typefaces through his

because of the Bauhaus or the New

research and the way he worked.

Typography but stands in his own category

Early 20th Century American and

for his revolution in type design. Benton did

European typography had two

not have a degree or studied typography at

typographers who still have a great

the university but his hard work to learn the

reputation today in the 21th Century.

historic of typefaces did not go unnoticed

Futura and Franklin Gothic remain

because all of his typefaces still remain.

popular typefaces today. 33

Citations Photo Credits Page 1 Page 4 Flickr Nick Sherman Page 8 Flickr, Unkē E Page 10 Flickr, Brendan Dawes Page 12 Photographer, ATF Page 14 Flickr, Photojordi Page 16 Photographer, Scott Lowe Page 18 - 21 Christopher Burke book Page 22 Letter Preservation Page 20 to 22 Ebay Page 24 Page 26 - 29

Christopher Burke, Paul Renner: The Art of Typography, 1998, Princeton Architectural Press, Print Charles Leonard, Paul Renner and Futura The Effects of Culture, Technology, and Social Continuity on the Design of Type for Printing, 2008, VDM Publishing, Print Dodd, Robin. From Gutenberg to Opentype: An Illustrated History of Type From the Earliest Letterforms to the Latest Digital Fonts. 2006, Vancouver: Hartley & Marks. Print Patricia A. Cost, “Linn Boyd Benton, Morris Fuller Benton, and Typemaking at ATF.” Scribd. 2011, Web. William Berkson,, 2005, Nov 06, 2012, Web The Font Bureau Inc., Morris Fuller Benton, N/A Year, Nov 6, 2012. Web

Page 30 Flickr, Kyle Van Horn Page 32 Page 33 N/A Page 36


Type Used Futurar Book, Medium, Bold, Heavy. Steile Futura. Plak. ITC Century Light, Book, Ultra. ITC Franklin Gothic Book, Medium, Demi, Heavy. Bank Gothic. Cheltenham News Gothic Name: Raksa Yin Course: Typography III Faculty: Francheska Guerrero


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Benton and Renner Typographer Book  

A book doing a comparison and similarity of Morris Fuller Benton and Paul Renner.

Benton and Renner Typographer Book  

A book doing a comparison and similarity of Morris Fuller Benton and Paul Renner.