1940s-style fonts

Written by alexander knoll
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1940s-style fonts
The 1940s brought an explosion of iconic font styles. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

The 1940s, arguably the most eventful decade of the 20th century, were quite stylish as well. The hand lettering on the door of a private detective's office, the ominous design of a war propaganda poster or the descending neon sign above a movie palace are all examples of 1940s font styles. While these fonts are no longer being produced in the same way, many are available in digital form.

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DK P.I.

One of the most enduring images of the 1940s is that of a hardened private investigator, perhaps reading a ransom note as he smokes a cigarette at his desk. That ransom note could have been typed in DK P.I., a font designed to resemble a worn-out typewriter. The font is so authentic that it even includes smudges and letters overlapping one another. It was created by David Kerkhoff in 2011, using a World War II-era typewriter.

Dusty Rose

Art Deco was an artistic and architectural style that emphasised linear symmetry. It was popular until the mid-1940s, but it is not forgotten. Dusty Rose, a classic Art Deco font, is for you femme fatales out there. Created by Nick Curtis in 2000, it is based on the logotype lettering used by the Dutch magazine Geillustreerd Schildersblad in 1940. This font would work well on a restaurant menu, preferably a place that serves hamburgers and cherry milkshakes.

Metallophile Sp 8

This distinctive font is modelled on an eight-point Sans Serif typeface set on a hot metal typesetting machine from the 1940s. Because it closely recreates hot metal type, it has a warmer quality than most other digital fonts. Metallophile Sp 8 is meant to be viewed at eight-point size to be at its most authentic. However, it is stylish at any size. The font would be most at home in a World War II-era academic textbook.

Fashion Brush

This font is a cross between a rough art brush and a smooth Sharpie. It is inspired by the wood-type lettering on the signs for Thalheimer's, a fashionable department store of the 1940s. Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond has historical examples of the original font on display. Since Fashion Brush was originally set in wood rather than metal, it resembles the vintage handwriting styles of the era. It would be an ideal font for a second-hand clothing or vinyl records shop.

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