Bradbury Thompson

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Bradbury Thompson (1911–November 1, 1995) was an American graphic designer and art director of the twentieth century.

Life and work[edit]

Communication Arts, "When it came to the blending of photography, typography and color, nobody did it better than Bradbury Thompson.... In his own quiet way, he expanded the boundaries of the printed page and influenced the design of a generation of art directors."[1]

Thompson was born in Topeka, Kansas. He attended Washburn College and graduated in 1934.[2] A facility called the Bradbury Thompson Alumni Center now stands at Washburn University. In 1937, Thompson designed the college's mascot, The Ichabod."

Thompson was art director of Mademoiselle magazine for fifteen years beginning in 1945. In c. 1948, Thompson designed the book Painting toward architecture for the Miller Company Collection of Abstract Art, which accompanied their multi-year art and architecture exhibition, also by this name, in over 25 venues across the United States.[3]

A signature design from Thompson was his Washburn College Bible.[4] This book was one of the first to use the Sabon typeface, designed by Jan Tschichold and released in 1967.

Thompson was also an important designer of US postage stamps throughout the middle decades of the 20th century.

Thompson served on the faculty of Yale University. He received the AIGA Gold Medal in 1975.[5] He received the Type Director's Club Medal in 1986.

Alphabet 26[edit]

Thompson developed in 1958 a font called Alphabet 26 or a "monoalphabet," an alphabet whose uppercase and lowercase forms of each letter were identical, and case was expressed through letter size only. (In the conventional Latin alphabet, it is already the case for letters like "o" and "O" or "s" and "S" but not for a/A, r/R, etc.) His monoalphabet was a transitional serif (modelled after Baskerville) with lowercase a, e, m, and n mixed with uppercase B, D, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, P, Q, R, T, U, and Y. (The forms of C/c, O/o, S/s, V/v, W/w, X/x and Z/z are essentially the same in uppercase and lowercase letters to begin with). The simplification was intended to make the letters of the alphabet more logical and intuitive, making the alphabet easier to learn and use.[6] Thompson first published the alphabet in a Westvaco Inspirations for Printers.[1]

The set of letters for Alphabet 26 is:

a B c D e F G H I J K L m n o P Q R s T U v w x Y z

The above example uses the CSS rule font-variant-caps: unicase, which is not supported by many browsers as of July 2017. A closer approximation that works in most current browsers (but suffers from slight variations in weight & height) is the following:

a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Example: BRaDBURY THomPson DesIGneD aLPHaBeT 26. (Alternate approximation: Bradbury Thompson designed alphabet 26.)


  • The Art of Graphic Design, Yale University Press, 1980. (ISBN 978-0300043013)

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Bradbury Thompson". Archived from the original on 2007-07-12. Retrieved 2011-09-06. at Communication Arts, originally published March/April 1999
  2. ^ Bradbury Thompson Alumni Center - About the center Archived June 1, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Housley, Kathleen L. (2001). Emily Hall Tremaine: Collector on the Cusp, (p. 98). Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation: Meriden, CT.
  4. ^ Thompson, Bradbury (1980). Holy Bible. Oxford Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-502786-8.
  5. ^ AIGA Medalists
  6. ^ Website dedicated to Alphabet 26 Archived September 11, 2007, at the Wayback Machine., giving a brief overview