Here’s Rod McDonald’s thorough take on one of the many roots of mid-century sans serifs: the Monotype series. A very capable synthesis of the design themes that later became Akzidenz, Helvetica, and Univers, Classic Grotesque has that pared-down industrial sensibility of no-nonsense neutrality meant to get the point across and then get out of the way. Slightly condensed forms in the lowercase make for a full line that yet is uncrowded or tight; the projectors are long enough to register firmly, but not so long as to intrude on the even set of the type.
What must be remarked on is the sad history that Monotype has with modern sans: the dread Arial. In commissioning Classic Grotesque, Monotype has made some atonement for the Big A. Here, the tropes — the angled cuts of ‘C’, ‘G’, ‘J’, and ‘S’, the spurless ‘G’ — that make Arial different from its, uh, good twin are presented in a context that makes them work. They are sourced from other, much earlier Monotype designs (McDonald referenced Ideal, Venus, and Monotype Grots), and are so much livelier here. And blessedly, the sad ‘R’ is replaced with a sturdy Akzidenz straight leg.
Classic also has a high waist in its caps (and lowercase ‘e’) that cleanly contrasts its workaday overalls with a well-fitting jacket. With a pleasantly drawn italic (the ‘a’, ‘e’, ‘f’, and ‘l’ are unexpected but welcome), Classic is ready for the factory, workroom, boardroom, and studio.