Kansas City poster for TWA
David Klein (1918–2005) designed and illustrated numerous posters for Howard Hughes’ Trans World Airlines and their “Fly TWA” campaign. The other day, I had posted one for Las Vegas, featuring West Banjo.
This poster advertising air trips to Kansas City uses handdrawn letters. It still qualifies for Fonts In Use, as Klein seems to have patterned the multiline caps on a design from Photo-Lettering, Inc.: it’s lettering derived from a typeface, or a font in indirect use.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, several geometric sans serifs drawn with multiple parallel lines emerged. Among them are Mexico Olympic (Lance Wyman, 1968), Churchward Design Lines (Joseph Churchward, 1970), or Aki Lines (Akihiko Seki, 1973). Some exhibit a rhythmized pattern, with strokes of uneven weight. These include Filmsense (Chwast/Glaser, 1967), Michel (Michel Waxmann, 1969), and Black Line (Wolf Magin, 1973).
The typeface that provided the basis for Klein’s lettering probably is Bauhaus Prisma. Released in 1970 as an extension of Ed Benguiat’s Bauhaus Geometric, it’s one of only a few such multiline designs with round tops in letters like A or N. It was produced in 16 all-caps variants. The poster lettering is closest to Bauhaus Prisma J (#8154) or K (#8155), see below.
The pattern is not identical, though, and the bar in A sits lower. The letter S is more akin to Prisma Graphic, which is a stylistic variant of the same design, with Futura-like letterforms. The only other typeface that can be considered as the model is Dick Isbell’s Prismania (Headliners, 1969), which came in 14 variants. It’s lighter in weight and has a different construction for K, though. Neither PLINC’s Prismas nor Prismania have an S with horizontal terminals – Klein took a little artistic license there.
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