M. Sasek - This is Cape Canaveral

I got a question through one of my other sites This is M. Sasek, asking what type face or font is used in Sasek's This is books. Can anyone identify it from the picture above (full size)? This picture is from This is Cape Canaveral scanned in by Ward Jenkins for his great Retro Kid flickr group. There are a few more Sasek's in there plus some other gems so it's well worth a look.

For anyone thinking "Who?" M. Sasek was an artist and illustrator of children's books, the most famous being the This is series of travel books. Born 1916 in Prague he left in 1948 and settled in Munich working for a spell at Radio Free Europe. He died in 1980. There are 18 titles in the This is series, each one describing a city or country, published between 1959 and 1974. He has a remarkable style, evocative of its time but somehow timeless and although the locations have changed over the years the books don't date. I did a page about him when I like started, and when it got a lot of interest decided to move it to a separate site. 3 years on it steadily attracts interest, not in huge quantities but generally from really cool people - lots of illustrators, animators and designers. I neglected it a bit last year but am trying to get back to it now. If you'd like an introduction there is a little slideshow. Some of the books have been reissued - details on This is M. Sasek. You'll like them, you really will.

That typeface is Gill Sans. I've just dashed upstairs to check the typeface in our reissued 'This is London', and that's in Univers.

The one in your sample is Gill Sans - no doubt about it.

It looks as though the type has been set in hot metal (you can tell by the kerning - the spacing between individual letters) - and then that typesetting would have been 'pasted up' onto board artwork to be combined photographically with the illustration. The printing of the book itself is almost certainly offset lithography.

Jane - that was quick! Thanks. I'm surprised Rizzoli changed the font for the reprints. I haven't got one handy to compare - is there much difference?

davidthedesigner - thank you for explaining kerning. I wondered what that was. It's amazing you can see things like that. I looked really closely and couldn't tell. Must be that Design Disease everyone's talking about.

Since I'm obviously among experts here, another question - is there a difference between a font and a type face?

like davidthedesigner I think it's the "gill sans"
in some of the books a special g is used ("this is london") and I have a german version of "this is rome" where an italic gill sans is used througout the book

Well, to explain kerning (or letter spacing) look at words 4 and 5 - Cape's press. There is a lot of space between the apostrophe and both the e and s on Cape's, and between the r and e in press. This is because when type was cast as individual letters in metal there couldn't be any overlap of the vertical space between the characters. If you look at similar words or characters in modern setting you'll see that those particular letters would be closer together.

The 'ideal' space between characters in a word was explained by Eric Gill (appropriately enough in this context) as imaging the white space between letters being filled with water, and that you should have an equal amount of water between every letter.

It sounds rather complicated - but then that's the design disease. When you've got it these things matter an awful lot.

As to font and typeface (one word, not two), I'll have to scratch my head on that. They both describe the same thing, but they may have different uses.

And gertie - sorry, but there's no think about it in my case. Take my work for it, it's Gill Sans.

That is definately Gill Sans.

To confuse things further, 'Font' is the Americanised version of the British type term 'Fount', which means the same thing but is pronounced "font".

Gill Sans is based on Johnston, the London Underground's corporate typeface. Eric Gill was taught by Edward Johnston at the Central School of art. Both typefaces are very similar, the most obvious difference is that Johnston used diamonds for the dots above the lower case letter 'I'.

I love moveable type. I did a year on a printing course, and a big chunk of that was compositing text by hand.

As well as being a superb sculptor and typographer, Eric Gill was a somewhat, um,'colourful'individual, having a sex life that would see him facing serious jail time now:

The reissues of 'This is Rome' and 'This is Hong Kong' should be in all good bookshops (i.e. 'GOSH! on London's Great Russell Street, on 30th of this month).


The difference between 'Typeface' and 'Font':

I always confused them till I read this letter in the guardian:

Conforming to type
It's always pleasant when a non-designer notices how a typeface affects the reading experience ("Letters patent", May 8). So I hope it isn't too mean to let you know that in typography the terms "font" and "typeface" are not interchangeable.

A typeface is the distinctive design of a family of characters; Times Roman, Garamond, Helvetica and so on.

A font is the collection of a number of characters from a typeface for a particular printing purpose. That is to say, the font for printing a maths textbook would require special mathematical symbols, lining and non-lining numerals and other characters, while the font needed for a telephone directory would use a different assortment of capitals, small caps, bullets etc.

Everyone encounters type on computers these days, so the confusion can be blamed on the person who designed the first Macintosh interface and decided to put "font" in the menu bar instead of "typeface", probably because it was shorter.
Woodrow Phoenix

So that's the first time I understood a 'font' to be the container and the 'typeface to be the content. In old school typography, anyway. Saying "Typefont" like lots of people do now is hedging our bets! And probably would still get us frowned at by the experts.

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