Terrible (=really great!) Street Lettering

This photo was published today in The New York Times, in an obituary for Paul Van Doren, the co-founder of Vans shoes. There was no date on the photo, though the car (which I can’t identify with certainty—Camaro? Dart?) would place it around 1969/1970.


  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,535
    edited May 2021
    Ford Maverick, produced from 1969-77. Looks like an earlier model to me.
  • Thank you, Mark. I’d forgotten about the Maverick—it was the beginning of a bad, bad, bad era for American cars. 

    More on topic: I was fascinated by the promiscuousness of the lettering. Note how the the letters on the “Open Now” signs are entirely different from each other; and how “Vans/Van’s” are different on the transom and the lower window. But the thing that got my attention was the word “flying,” which reminded me of Berthold Wolpe’s Tempest type, though I admit that might be wishful thinking.

  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,535
    Yeah. Nearly all of that would be made from fonts today.
  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,911
    People probably thought it was an eyesore at the time. But people today would probably be excited if the current tenant took down whatever plastic signage is up and replaced it with a jumble of wild painted lettering. I remember going to the far end of Brooklyn with Paul Shaw to look for stuff like this.
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