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1964 Barry Goldwater campaign handbill

Contributed by Blythwood on Oct 26th, 2021. Artwork published in .
    Side with text
    Source: bostonraremaps.com Boston Rare Maps/R. Ridgway. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Side with text

    This handout was produced in summer/autumn 1964 to promote the United States presidential campaign of Barry Goldwater, arguing that Goldwater could combat communism and listing countries which had become communist dictatorships in the previous quarter-century. I’m not clear whether the organisation which prepared this image, “Minnesota Citizens for Goldwater-Miller”, was part of the official Goldwater campaign. The map is credited to Robert G. Ridgway of Minneapolis, and an R. D. Ridgway at a residential address is the contact for reprints. According to directories Mr. Ridgway seems to have owned a local construction firm.

    I believe this document was prepared using a Varityper, a proportional typewriter used for professional documents. A 1967 specimen is on the Internet Archive (I’m deeply grateful to its uploader “MacSimski” for making it available) and both text faces use match Varityper faces in distinctive ways. Varityper also had a phototypesetting system for headlines (“you compose by simply dialling”), developed by the brother of Kennedy and Johnson’s Secretary of Labor, funnily enough.

    The sans-serif is Eton Sans, a copy of Gill Sans. Some details, like the very narrow O Q W, seem likely to be the result of some restrictive character-width system of the kind Adrian Frutiger later complained about on IBM Composers. The wide a suggests the designer might have had News Gothic or Trade Gothic on their mind. A sort of proto-Whitney, then? I’m not aware of other typewriter versions of Gill Sans or widely available American releases of it in any other format; IBM’s Selectric Composer manuals show nothing similar at all. (Really cheap choice of name, I feel.)

    The serif is Tribune News, a rational serif in the style of Linotype’s Legibility Group and the Century family. Even more here several distinctive, odd character widths in the italic suggest a constrained spacing system, especially the very narrow h n u. The roman is much better.

    Incidentally, an odd characteristic of the Varityper specimen is large headings which often seem very different to the body text, more crisply printed, better spaced and almost different typefaces altogether. These were presumably printed using their headline-setting phototypesetting system, given that the specimen claims that “all type in this book was composed on VariTyper equipment.” I don’t have a specimen of these faces. Futura Bold or a copy is also used for the largest heading. Varityper did have a clone on their typewriting system but it’s much more condensed, so could this have been phototype, or metal type? The specimen’s heading does look the same as Futura Bold. Ralf Hermann has a video showing the very similar Berthold ‹diatype› machine if you want to get the general idea of how these first-generation phototypesetting machines worked. It looks like the headine repertoire was different to the typewriter face list, because for some faces the heading doesn’t match the text face or just defaults to Times New Roman.

    Richard Polt quotes a very knowledgeable message from a former employee: “One of VariTyper’s favorite selling points was their interchangeable type. You could have two fonts in the anvil at a time and could rapidly change a font if you chose.” A striking thing about the document is how it switches from serif to sans for emphasis frequently; the sans is often only used in all-caps in these sections. Two weights of the sans-serif are used for the table. Polt’s correspondent also writes that Varityper’s system was overtaken rapidly by the better-known IBM Composer in the late 1960s and notes the spacing characteristics.

    Here’s a description of Varityper’s later system. (With contributions in the comment section from two fairly well-known authors, Derek Lowe and Charlie Stross-man, the early blogosphere seems to have been a small world.)

    Other side, showing map by Robert G. Ridgway
    Source: bostonraremaps.com Boston Rare Maps/Robert Ridgway. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Other side, showing map by Robert G. Ridgway

    Crop showing type more clearly. All this text seems to have capitals too low relative to the lower-case.
    Source: bostonraremaps.com Boston Rare Maps/Robert Ridgway. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Crop showing type more clearly. All this text seems to have capitals too low relative to the lower-case.

    A specimen of Eton Sans regular.
    Source: archive.org Varityper/MacSimski. License: All Rights Reserved.

    A specimen of Eton Sans regular.

    Varityper’s Tribune News. Some unusual character widths suggest a constrained spacing system. The top line “Tribune News Italic” is totally different, presumably phototypeset.
    Source: archive.org Varityper/Macsimski. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Varityper’s Tribune News. Some unusual character widths suggest a constrained spacing system. The top line “Tribune News Italic” is totally different, presumably phototypeset.

    Varityper’s text-size “Sans Serif Bold”, a Futura knockoff, doesn’t match the document. Again, the top line looks like true Futura Bold, and presumably was made on their headline phototypesetting system.
    Source: archive.org Varityper/Macsimski. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Varityper’s text-size “Sans Serif Bold”, a Futura knockoff, doesn’t match the document. Again, the top line looks like true Futura Bold, and presumably was made on their headline phototypesetting system.

    Typefaces

    • Eton Sans
    • Tribune News
    • Futura

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