Ditchling Museum is indeed very beautifully laid out – one of the best looks of any museum I’ve ever been to, in fact, of any size. But with all due respect to Mr. Baines, I don’t think he’s quite the first to do this.
I’ve seen in a variety of places in the UK Gill Sans printed on signs – often on metal signs or plastic signs used by estate agents - that have been made in the last 10–20 years but that clearly haven’t used the conventional digital versions of Gill Sans sold by Monotype. Here’s an example, on a sign dated June 1999. You can see the discarded 'a’ (which often turned up on Pelican paperback covers for some reason) and a 'p’ and 'd’ with stroke terminals.
Where have these fonts come from? I don’t know. My guess is some sign manufacturer Monotype licensed the font to years ago drew it from the metal type diagrams, similarly to how Berthold had oddball redrawn versions of quite a lot of Monotype fonts for phototypesetting (although this one isn’t from Berthold, at least not from Berthold sources I’ve seen). Further information welcomed.
Firstly, thanks Phil and Natalie for doing this and showing how such a tradition can be kept alive and responsive if not actually incorporated into the official revival that was Gill Sans Nova…
Secondly, Blythwood (sorry don’t know your real name) that detail is fascinating and highly likely. If you have more examples I think the Gill Sans research community would appreciate seeing them.
FWIW, here is an item from the Monotype archive that was on display at the Gill Sans Nova launch in November 2015;
Thanks for the reply! I found your article on the history of Gill Sans really interesting and it taught me a lot about how to assess how fonts work.
I’ll see about getting example photos sent over to you if I can find some. I’ve seen Gill Sans versions with the original 'a’ in the UK on things like in vinyl on the side of a trader’s van, the painted sign of a wine shop, an enamel opening hours sign on a post office, so clearly at least one business has a custom version. Googling signage companies hasn’t turned up the source.
(Also, if we’re talking oddball Gill Sans redraws, there are a few other custom versions of Gill Sans that seem to come from Germany and turn up on some of the knock-off free font CDs, but those don’t have the original 'a’. Chantilly Serial is one of them.)
Contributed by Phil Baines