Lettering from the Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World

Lady Liberty holds a tablet engraved with:


This tablet was sculpted in 1883 by a team of builders in Paris based on a design developed between 1865 and 1875 by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi of Alsace. The lettering resembles a condensed version of Bank Gothic, which Morris Fuller Benton designed in 1930 for ATF, except that the angles of the terminals (e.g., C, J) are squared off rather than diagonal.

I spent part of today doing web searches for detailed information on the history of sans serif typefaces prior to Akzidenz Grotesk, looking for some hints, but I find instead everyone repeating the same history post-AG.

So . . .

Is the tablet's lettering original, or is it based on some contemporary, sans serif typeface?

And, where can I find a detailed history of sans serif typefaces prior to AG?

Sincerely yours,

Rick Marshall


Okay, moments after posting the above, I did find a good discussion of pre-AG sans serif typefaces, here on typophile of course!

Anatomy of a Typeface by Alexander Lawson has a reasonable discussion of sans serif history in his chapter "Franklin Gothic and the Twentieth-century Gothics," but he like most authors skims through the nineteenth-century sans serif types. The other typophile thread gives fuller information on them, but not enough to identify Lady Liberty's tablet lettering, alas.

Any ideas?

Agency Gothic is reasonably close.