Beer history design

Yet more vintage beer mats

Here are four British beer mats from the sixties (or early seventies?).

Two make dubious health claims for their product — Mann’s does you a power of good, while Mackeson’s looks good, tastes good and does good. The retro equivalent of “contains friendly bacteria”, maybe?

And these two are just beautiful. Helvetica ahoy on the Worthington mat? And the Watney’s design is pure Festival of Britain.

11 replies on “Yet more vintage beer mats”

A pedant writes: I think that’s actually News Gothic on the Worthington mat. Although it could be Helvetica distorted a bit by the screen printing.

Gosh, i’m dull.

Had an inkling it might not be Helvetica. There are so many similar fonts about and I’m not quite at the expert stage where I can spot the difference from details. I’m working on it, though! In this case, something a bit wrong about the lower case g?

It’s definitely not News Gothic. News Gothic has a two-storey g. It’s Helvetica, or a competing foundry’s version of it. Back in the day every foundry had its own knock-off of popular typefaces. It is set very tight because the then latest technology, phototypesetting, made that possible for the first time, so everyone was doing it.

The Watneys’ certainly stands out, though the triangle beer mat I don’t see all that often either (at least dealing with present day mats).

Dave — you’re lucky to see beer mats of any shape these days. (Certainly rare in London, although a bit more popular down here in Cornwall.)

Ron — and even playing away, you’ve managed to correct me: as you quietly point out, we are talking typefaces (design of the letters) rather than fonts (a set of letters from a typeface at a specific size), at least in pre-desktop publishing terminology.

Thought it might be Akzidenz Grotesk but, no, pretty sure it’s Helvetica or an exact clone. The lower case ‘e’ has a bit of distortion but (with the real mat here in front of me to peer at) I can see that it definitely *is* distortion.

The tails of the lower case g and t are possibly a bit more angular, otherwise it’s a straightforward Helvetica clone. I re-set the type to show just how exactly it matches:

I knew a guy who was such a traditionalist he’d write fount instead of font, even when talking about digital type.

Thanks, Barm. I wonder if the differences you point out are just a result of a modern digital tidy up of the letter forms? Which version did you use?

Barm — where I used to work I once found a cupboard full of type identification manuals from the sixties and seventies. Beautiful in themselves, with covers set (of course) in Helvetica. Wish I’d had the nerve to nick one.

Have you seen this? A great typeface but also a good case study of modern digital tidying of an old font.

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