Newspaper Headline Typeface, 1971 - Tempo {Mark S}


This is the headline typeface used in the St. Louis Globe Democrat newspaper dated June 22, 1971. It kinda jumped out at me when I was looking through my grandma’s old photos and stuff, and I haven’t been able to figure it out.

Your help is appreciated.


By far the most common Newspaper sans of the pre-digital era was Spartan. What you have here is an exceptionally poor cut of it, with the two-storey ‘a’ standing out as particularly badly done (I’m not sure which alternates were available, but Jaspert has just the one-storey). It will be hard to track down exactly which manufacturer was responsible for this butchery, but perhaps your curiosity doesn’t extend quite that far.

I dig those cursive caps!

Thanks Mark and everyone else!

Tempo was a name that was bouncing around in my head. I wasn’t sure why, as I’d only really seen it in the bold condensed like you mentioned.

A couple weeks ago I went to the City Museum (basically a building full of neat would-be garbage). The walls near all the elevators are covered with old printing plates and empty type cases. And I snapped this picture:


So I guess that explains why I thought Tempo.

And perhaps there’s a chance they snatched this up from the Globe-Democrat, which no longer exists.

I’m still curious as to what’s so wrong with that ‘a’.

I think it looks wrong to some people because since the font is so close to Futura, their brains expect a single storey a. It’s just kind of jarring to read.

- Lex

Spartan had an alternate two-storey a as well, at least in the lighter weights. I don’t know if it was used much, but in the old Linotype specimen books it looks surprisingly natural. I actually prefer it. It’s a bit better-thought-out than the one in Tempo—not so wide.

Ouch, that “a” really hurts the eye…

If you are going for the same look and are not too picky about the details, how about Journal Sans

Maybe I need to see some pre-digital samples of Spartan, because I’m having trouble seeing it. But then again, I don’t really know what I’m talking about/looking at most of the time.

Spartan’s a Futura knockoff, but this looks like a much more faithful knockoff, and maybe someone got bored and decided to mess with it a little more? I don’t know if things like that happen much.

That two-story ‘a’ is what caught my eye especially. Otherwise I probably would have just assumed it was Futura. Is your “particularly bad” subjective or is there some specific crappiness I’m not noticing?

The ‘g’ I notice though.

I’ve got some more samples, if they’re of any help:


Thanks some more.

Journal Sans is a lot closer I think. I’m not really looking for the typeface for any specific use… just curiosity and wanting to learn more about this stuff in general.

From’s Journal sans page:

“The typeface was designed at the Polygraphmash type design bureau in 1940-56 (project headed by Anatoly Shchukin) based on Erbar-Grotesk typeface of Ludwig & Mayer company, 1929 by Jakob Erbar, and on Metro typeface of Mergenthaler Linotype, 1929 by William A. Dwiggins. A sans serif of geometric style. For use for text and display typography.”

Now the question is; does anyone here have links to any specimens on Erbar-Grotesk (1929) ?
Dwiggins’ Metro #2 is familiar, but how does the #1 look like?

The face in question is the old Ludlow metal face Tempo. The weights in the samples above are Tempo Bold and Tempo Bold Italic.

The only survivors of the Tempo family in digital form that I know of are Tempo Bold Condensed and Tempo Bold Condensed Italic. The rest of the family has never made it to digital (although there was a guy in the UK a couple of years ago who apparently got the rights to the Ludlow name and library who had a few new weights of Tempo for sale, but he and the site seem to have disappeared). I don’t recall that it was ever even available in phototype.

There seems to be also a Tempo Medium Grunged available.

A bit more about Tempo:

It was very popular headline face for newspapers before “cold type” took over in the 1970s. As Raph points out, it looks similar to Spartan. Both were modeled on Futura—Spartan to a greater degree and Tempo to a lesser degree.

Tempo, like some other contemporary geometric sans, had alternate characters so you could make it look like Kabel, Erbar, Vogue, or Futura (with a one-storey a). The reason for this was undoubtably pragmatic. Most of their customers (newspapers) used other manufacturers’ equipment (Linotype mainly) for setting text. Ludlow was used for headlines. By offering these alternate characters, they could offer reasonably close matches to the smaller faces set with the other equipment.


The Light Italic and Medium Italic were very unusual in that they had tails on some of the lowercase characters (m, n, i, u) and other somewhat calligraphic features—even a set of swash caps. The closest I’ve seen to this is Neutraface Italic. Tempo Italic was definitely in the back of my mind when I dreamed up Coquette.


Red Rooster (Steve Jackaman) had rights to at least some of the Ludlow collection. The font Jan pointed out was one of the digitizations Steve did on typefaces from the Ludlow type, and there were a number of others, including Radiant, Bodoni Campanile, Ultra Modern, Railroad Gothic, Florentine Cursive, Coronet, Ludlow Garamond (including swash italics) and Hauser Script.

Thanks for the background and samples on Tempo, Mark.