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Fafhrd & The Gray Mouser book series by Fritz Leiber (Ace)

Contributed by Florian Hardwig on Oct 28th, 2020. Artwork published in
circa 1968
.
    Swords and Deviltry (#1), Ace 79170, 1970. The secondary typeface is .
    Source: https://www.abebooks.com John Thompson. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Swords and Deviltry (#1), Ace 79170, 1970. The secondary typeface is Alternate Gothic.

    The first edition of the Fafhrd & The Gray Mouser book series is the most prominent in-use example of Ringling Brothers that I’m aware of. Five volumes with collected stories by Fritz Leiber were published by Ace Books between 1968 and 1970, with cover art by Jeff Jones.

    Ringling Brothers originated at Photo-Lettering in New York. The face is shown in their Art Nouveau Xenotypes 1895–1905 from 1962 as Xenotype 3488. It’s a rounder and bolder rendition of an untitled “modern alphabet” shown by Chicago-based lettering artist J.M. Bergling in his Art Alphabets & Lettering from 1914. Photo-Lettering also had a direct adaptation of Bergling’s alphabet, under the name Xenotype 3487, aka Staudel Xenotype K.

    Staudel Xenotype N (aka Xenotype 3488) and Ringling Brothers as shown in Photo-Lettering’s One Line Manual of Styles (1971). The latter appears to have slightly larger gaps in letters like a or E.
    Photo: Florian Hardwig. License: CC BY-NC-SA.

    Staudel Xenotype N (aka Xenotype 3488) and Ringling Brothers as shown in Photo-Lettering’s One Line Manual of Styles (1971). The latter appears to have slightly larger gaps in letters like a or E.

    Their 1971 catalog features the bolder interpretation twice, as Staudel Xenotype N (with catalog number 3488) and as Ringling Brothers (4465). If there are any differences between the two, they are minute. The only obvious variation that I can detect in the limited one-line showings is that the gaps are smaller in 3488 and tend to fill in. My guess is that Ringling Brothers is a revision with slightly larger openings to counter this effect. It’s named after an American circus family active in the late 19th and early 20th century. No designer is credited for either version. The faces were likely drawn under the supervision of PLINC’s art director Ed Benguiat, or maybe even by himself.

    The five paperbacks covers feature Ringling Brothers exclusively in all caps. The phantasmagorial Art Nouveau face is paired with various condensed sans serifs.

    [More info on ISFDB]

    Swords Against Death (#2), Ace 79150, 1970. The small text on vols 2–4 is set in . This cut originated at Haas as .
    Source: https://raggedclaws.com Ragged Claws Network. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Swords Against Death (#2), Ace 79150, 1970. The small text on vols 2–4 is set in Helvetica schmalhalbfett. This cut originated at Haas as Commercial-Grotesk.

    Swords in the Mist (#3), Ace H-90, 1968.
    Source: https://www.flickr.com John. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Swords in the Mist (#3), Ace H-90, 1968.

    Swords Against Wizardry (#4), Ace H-73, 1968.
    Source: https://www.abebooks.com Bytown Bookery. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Swords Against Wizardry (#4), Ace H-73, 1968.

    The Swords of Lankhmar (#5), Ace H-38, 1968.  is used for the blurb.
    Source: https://www.abebooks.com Bytown Bookery. License: All Rights Reserved.

    The Swords of Lankhmar (#5), Ace H-38, 1968. Futura Condensed is used for the blurb.

    Typefaces

    • Ringling Brothers
    • Helvetica Condensed
    • Alternate Gothic
    • Futura Condensed

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    2 Comments on “Fafhrd & The Gray Mouser book series by Fritz Leiber (Ace)”

    1. Love it! Thanks Florian

    2. Thanks, Quentin! This era – mid 1960s to early 1970s – was a very productive and inventive one, even if some of the new faces had origins in previous times, like Ringling Brothers.

      Good idea about starting a Set for Science-Fiction/Fantasy paperbacks! I’m using the Advanced Search a lot for viewing this kind of segments, but Sets definitely are a great tool to refine the selection and make it easily accessible to others.

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