Manly 1910s-1920s typeface

jonathanhughes's picture

I'm working on a book about my grandfather, who was a badass US Marine in the 1920s (first, he lied about his age to join the US Navy, and served in WWI, and then when he got out, he joined the Marines and served in South America). I'm looking for typeface suggestions for both headlines and body copy — something that would've been used in America around that time, that would also be appropriate for a guy who, with his bare hands, saved a woman from a sword-wielding criminal in Nicaragua.

Franklin Gothic is the only thing that comes to mind.

Would a Clarendon work? I know it's origins are in England, but it seems like it could work.


Té Rowan's picture

How about a Cheltenham?

charles ellertson's picture

Century -- esp. if you can find a good Century Expanded.

J. Tillman's picture

The sponsored font here is Bullen. The website says it's about "a certain freewheeling eclecticism found in ATF faces from the turn of the 20th century".

It's not an old font, but worth a look.

Nick Shinn's picture

The notion of manliness is problematic, because many of the gentlemanly qualities that were appropriate to real men in the 1920s would now be considered effete. Russel Crowe did not play Robin Hood in tights, as Errol Flynn did.

Perhaps a graphic quality like an adventure book from the 1920s would be good to aim for, as you grandfather's story seems to have been one of romantic adventure.

Rockwell Kent, although not a navy man, was a sailor and adventurer, his NbyNE comes to mind (scroll down the thread for images):

JamesM's picture

> Perhaps a graphic quality like an adventure book from the 1920s

You might be able to find some ideas at this site which posts images from vintage comics and books. (They have a search box that can be used to search for specific names or keywords.)

jonathanhughes's picture

Thanks for all the input. This is good stuff! I hand't thought about the "romantic adventure" aspect of what he did. I guess because most of the documents of his I have involve swords and explosions and things like that. The adventure novel idea certainly has some potential (too bad I'm not an illustrator).

I probably should've been clearer about what it is I'm working on. It's just a personal/family project to be printed through It'll be heavy on pictures and scans of documents, and fairly minimal in the text department, but some of the adventure novel stuff could certainly be woven in.


JamesM's picture

> just a personal/family project...
> It'll be heavy on pictures and scans of documents

Then maybe just go for the look of a vintage diary or photo album (you can find examples via Google), with some period-appropriate fonts. Maybe do captions in a handwriting font if they aren't too long.

And at if you search for phrases like "photo album vintage" you can find inexpensive stock art that might be useful (backgrounds that simulate old paper, old photo corner mounts, etc.).

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