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50 Examples of Vintage Typography

Design, Inspiration, Typography | Jul 17, 2009

Vintage art reminds us of a time when we were dependent less on technology and more on skill and technique.

But we cannot compare the typography of 100 years ago to that of today, with the arrival of so many new typefaces, new ways to create fonts as well as new ways to get our artwork out into the world.

Even though the application of typography has evolved so much from a century ago until now, the most common use of typography continues to be for ads, store signs, and logos.

Below, you will find 50 typographic examples that exhibit a range of artistic styles from the last 100 years or so.

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What are your thoughts on vintage typography? Please share your comments with us, we’d love to hear from you…


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  • http://gabediaz.com Gabe Diaz

    Wow, this is a huge and great collection. Really enjoyed the poster for Bert & Bud’s Vintage Coffins.

  • http://simon.vansintjan.org Simon Vansintjan

    This is an amazing collection. I’ve really been into vintage things lately, and this has brought some great inspiration along with it.

  • http://www.adventcreative.com Adam Smith

    Perfect set for some inspiration. Well done, guys.

  • Harm J. Schelhaas

    No examples to be seen, I’m afraid. Only several advertisements so busy with keeping themselves in view that apparently they prevent the real content from showing.

    A missed chance. And a failed webdesign. I won’t be back here in a hurry.

    • Russ

      Maybe mentioning your web browser would further help the designer to correct that little problem. Oh but wait – you are not interested in helping are you? Just being plain pessimistic! As Del Boy Trotter would say – “you twonk!”

    • Ken

      Be sure to close the door on your way out. KTHXBYE

  • http://www.abundanthealthpublishing.com Editor

    Nice collection. I love typography and advertising. A modern use of the “olde style” is on every tin of Altoids. Love their presentation.

  • http://www.tulsa-signs.com Tulsa Signs designed

    Many of these great examples were done by hand by a signwriter.
    Especially the movie poster and a lot of the poster ads.

    I have always felt that if if was type set by a machine, then it is typography.
    If is was hand painted, it is a letter style.

    Also each individual signpainter/showcard writer would normally have his own
    unique way of rendering a letter style.

    What you call “Typograpy” I would call letter styles.

    Not a big thing, just trying to keep the dying art of sign painting alive a little while longer.

    • http://sideradesign.com paul

      actually here in Brazil, there are still a lot of sign painters, I should take some photos and post them

  • http://www.didingsoegama.com/ diding soegama

    Nice!…really like the Bert & Bud’s Vintage Coffins poster.

  • MattS

    A while back I bumped into this site that has a huge collection of vintage fonts. They’re not free but not overly expensive either.

  • http://www.traxor-designs.com/ Luke Jones

    I’m seeing more and more that companies are reverting to old packaging, or more vintage styles of typography, take a look at Heinz Mayonnaise for example, they’ve changed all of their packets to make them look more traditional.

  • http://www.aledesign.it aledesign.it

    Fantastic collection..is my dream…I love it!! Thanks for sharing!!!

  • http://www.gbwebdesign.nl GBWebdesign

    Very nice collection! I loved the Coffee one.

  • http://www.edgarleijs.nl Edgar Leijs

    Casablanca poster is a classic!

  • http://www.branditsolutions.com website design

    this is really nice. i love the designs. i even bookmarked your site.

  • http://circleboxtextures.com/ Callum Chapman

    Great round-up. I love the colours and typography used in the vintage posters and signs!

  • http://www.texturelovers.com Max Stanworth

    I still love vintage design, Great collection

  • Marta

    I love “Bert & Bud’s Vintage Coffins: Mellow”. So gold, so hot like a coffee foam. Tasty. :)

  • http://ww.metrodesk.com.bd clipping path service

    inspiration! inspiration!! inspiration!!! All are nice. thanks for your sharing.

  • http://www.breitlingreplicawatches.net vendi

    Thanks for this sharing, and let me konw so much about typography.

  • http://espresso-online.info theamoeba

    haha. cocaine toothache drops … instant cure :D

    very nice collection.

  • Spence

    Great collection, I love old display typefaces. I’m a little puzzled over the comment (in bold, no less) “the most common use of typography continues to be for ads, store signs, and logos.” No, the most common use of typography is in text for articles and books. I think you might be referring to “display type” is most commonly used in ads, store signs, and logos.

    @Tulsa Signs designed: You obviously haven’t studied typography. Please stop assigning your own definitions to words that already have a specific meaning. Seriously, you’ll sound a lot more professional.

    Apparently the author of this article and people like “Tulsa Signs designed” need to get some typography books.

    • http://www.tulsa-signs.com Tulsa Signs

      I agree with about the most common use of typography would be for books and text articles.
      Of course, these would be rendered by machines of some sort.

      I was mainly trying to point out that many of these old designs were hand rendered,(which is a skill I have) and not trying to start any debate on the use of the word.
      I guess I wasn’t thinking far enough back in time.

      Fair enough. Please explain where “typography” comes from.

      I know you can’t always trust Wikipedia, however:

      The definition: Typography,
      is the art and technique of arranging type, type design, and modifying type glyphs.
      (I guess that could be done by hand or by machine.)

      Etymology: Typography (from the Greek words τύπος typos = “to strike” “That by which something is symbolized or figured …” and γραφία graphia = to write).

      Typography traces its origins to the first punches and dies used to make seals and currency in ancient times. The first known movable type printing artifact is probably the Phaistos Disc, though its real purpose remains disputed. The item dates between 1850 BC and 1600 BC, back to Minoan age and is now on display at the archaeological museum of Heraklion in Crete, Greece.

      Typography with movable type was separately invented in 11th-century China. Modular metal type was first invented in Korea during the Goryeo Dynasty around 1230. It was independently developed in mid-15th century Europe with the development of specialised techniques for casting and combining cheap copies of letterpunches in the vast quantities required to print multiple copies of texts.

      Of course, this by no means settles the discussion.
      Still my point was, hand rendered vs. machine rendered or “typeset”.
      And, the common use of the word “Typography” among the people who are able to make letters by hand.

      Mark

  • Russ

    I really like the sleepers ad, something about that whole design that really grabs me. Maybe it’s my recent encounter with Bioshock!!!! Love it.

    Great post!

  • http://feerbook.com yaugle

    Nice!

  • Kate Madigan

    This is going straight into my bookmarks. As an illustrator and a portraitist I specially love the adverts for domestic products with all the 1940s and 50s hairstyles! Oh, and the type’s pretty cool too…

  • horse

    awesome collection and resources. thank you for posting and sharing.

    also worth noting is http://www.pilo.me – it is a typography forum for people interested in type and lettering. i know it is a private community, but if you can get in, it has a wide collection of these fonts and current fonts. wider than i have seen anywhere. i know alejandro paul, font shop and house industries count themselves as members. it is an underground forum, but awesome.

  • http://www.magmag.biz Brant

    Good compilation of ads. I am digging the Amana ad.

  • http://www.crearedesign.co.uk Adam

    I absolutely love retro typefaces, I often try and incorporate them into new logo and web designs. But you have to get it exactly right else it just looks outdated. Some great examples and inspiration right here!!

  • http://www.designtank.ws Chris Raymond

    The Balthazar Bakery is my favorite. Clean, elegant, draws on vintage typography while making it contemporary.

  • RoaldA

    Awsome! <:

  • http://www.mattinglydesign.net Chris Mattingly

    Great stuff in here! But what is up with the “say so long in your Plymouth” ad? It’s like you have all these great, old ads (and a few faux-vintage designs) in the collection, and you slipped in some college kid’s comp homework.

  • http://vintagesoul.org Cheri

    Man, these are sooooo cool. :D Also makes me wish even more that I lived in the ’20s-’50s. :D

  • http://www.rossgardt.de Benedikt R.

    Very nice! I like the coffee ad ^^

  • http://www.sametomorrow.com/blog Adam

    Nice collection!

  • http://glennvanbogaert.wordpress.com Glenn Van Bogaert

    All those ads are so great. I love them all. They’re so great created.

  • http://www.embed-design.com/ Oliver

    cocaine toothache drops :D

    Nice list anyway, very interesting

  • http://www.livingforart.com Jasmin Halkić

    Wow, awesome works… Like them all.

  • http://www.chrispacheco.com Chris Pacheco

    Great post, I love the vintage feel of design and typography :D

  • http://www.sweetpixels.co.uk web design hastings

    I think we can enjoy seeing these types in web/print design in 2010 having read a few design trend podcasts!

  • BebopDesigner

    Excellent collection! thanks for posting!

  • http://www.primediart.com Design

    Nice collection! Worthy of praise!

  • http://www.cheapwebhostingseller.com Hosting boy

    woooowww……….Very nice collection.

  • http://jamalahmadsthoughts.blogspot.com/ Jamal Ahmad

    No matter how old they are, theirs something so cool about some of these Ads! I particularly like the ones with the three frogs you could easily replace the words “White Star Coffee” with “Bud – Wise – Eaar!”

  • http://www.blog.aceinfowayindia.com Ajay

    Very Nice collection! Old is Gold!

  • http://www.tutoriallounge.com tutorialslounge

    really awesome listing here.

  • http://www.twitter.com/divinefusion divinefusion

    Pure awesomeness.

  • http://www.pixel-kingdom.com Webdesigner

    These were the times where typography was a real art and science. Not like today where you can grab all kind of ugly typefaces to “design” your ad…

  • http://www.ma007.com MarketAgent 007

    Excellent post! Please keep up the good work!

  • http://www.emigre.com/Tshirt.php John Downer

    That JAZZ PARIS poster is supposed to be from 1970? Odd. The font used to set PARIS is Adobe’s Lithos Regular, but the letters have been squeezed to look narrower. It was designed by Carol Twombly about twenty years *after* the jazz festival being advertised.

  • http://www.hybridlava.com/ Alan

    amazing post……keep up the good work

  • http://bloggadget.ru/ Nicco

    Very nice!