Typeface Review

ITC Franklin

Reviewed by Carolina de Bartolo on April 6, 2009

When I was in design school, we were only allowed to use Univers until we were seniors.

Well, at least that’s the story I always tell my students. The fact is that I really can’t remember when we were allowed to use typefaces other than Univers, but I’m sure we were not restricted to that one face quite that long. In any case, the point I want to drive home with my exaggerated tale is that you don’t need a wide array of typefaces in order to learn quite a lot about typography. Even one great classic sans face can suffice, provided its family of weights and widths is ample and its forms are well-constructed.

That’s why I love this latest reissue of ITC Franklin Gothic, called simply ITC Franklin. David Berlow at the Font Bureau has regularized a total of 48 styles for a smooth, matching gradation of weights and widths that had never been a part of Benton’s original design or Victor Caruso’s 1979 expansion. While, as a professional, I admire Cyrus Highsmith’s stunning Benton Sans and its family of 128 styles, the 48 styles in the new ITC Franklin family is a more manageable proposition for fledgling typophiles and it exposes them to Morris Fuller Benton’s work just a bit more directly.

Carolina de Bartolo teaches typography and design history at Academy of Art University in San Francisco. She promises to tell her students the whole truth and nothing but the truth from this day forward.

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