Spartan, produced in the late 1930s, was Mergenthaler Linotype and ATF’s knockoff of the extremely popular Futura (Bauer). If you see Futura in a magazine or newspaper published in mid-century America, there’s a good chance it’s actually Spartan (or the other followers: Twentieth Century, Tempo, or Vogue).

“Although it is claimed to have been derived from several similar European typefaces, the differences between it and Futura are so slight that for most practical purposes they are almost interchangeable.” — Mac McGrew in American Metal Typefaces of the Twentieth Century

Still, like many imitations, Spartan offered some things the original did not: such as a double-story alternate ‘a’ (shown in the Linotype specimen), special “Advertising Figures”, and unique “Classified” cuts (released later) for very small type. The originality of the Classified fonts could explain why they are the only styles available in digital form. For a digitization of Spartan that emulates a rough printed impression, check out Mark Simonson’s Metallophile.

The images above are excerpts from the complete specimens found in The Silver Buckle Press Collection at the University of Wisconsin. Direct links: ATF specimen, Linotype specimen.

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