Souvenir (typeface)

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Souvenir typeface example.png
Category Serif
Designer(s) Morris Fuller Benton
Foundry American Type Founders
Date released September 1914

Souvenir is an old style serif typeface, designed in 1914 by Morris Fuller Benton for American Type Founders. It was loosely based on Schelter-Antiqua and Schelter-Kursiv, a 1905 Art Nouveau type issued by the J.G. Schelter & Giesecke foundry in Leipzig.[1] It has a much softer look than other old style faces, with a generally light look, rounded serifs, and very little contrast between thick and thin strokes.[2] At the time of its issue it achieved only a moderate popularity and was known as "the printer's friend" because of its forgiving qualities on press.

Cold Type Copies[edit]

In 1967 Ed Benguiat licensed the design from ATF and re-drew the face for the Photo-Lettering Corporation. When the International Typeface Corporation (ITC) was formed in 1971 it not only issued this design as ITC Souvenir but hired Benguiat to draw additional weights. It was the bold and demi-bold weights that subsequently achieved a ubiquitous popularity leading to it being made available for photocomposition by all the leading producers under the name Souvenir by Alphatype, Berthold, Compugraphic, Dymo, Harris, Star/Photon, Mergenthaler, Monotype, Varityper, while it was called Sovran by Graphic Systems Inc.[3]

Hot Metal Copies[edit]

The sudden popularity of this face in the 1970s led to the creation of Linotype matrices in two weights by Matrotype. This is perhaps the only time when a phototype was subsequently cut into metal.[4]

Digital Copies[edit]

Digital copies are widely available from Linotype, Adobe, Monotype, and many other vendors.


Due to its enormous popularity in the 1970s, Souvenir has become associated with the typographical excesses of that era and subsequent generations of typographers have come to loathe it. Simon Garfield lists it as the "seventh worst typeface in the world."[5][6] Others on record as detesting the type include Frank Romano (who said "There's nothing wrong with Souvenir that a complete redesign wouldn't cure"),[7] Peter Guy, and Mark Batty (who called it "A terrible typeface. A sort of 'Saturday Night Fever' typeface wearing tight white flared pants.").[8]


  1. ^ "Souvenir Origins". Retrieved February 2, 2013. 
  2. ^ Cost, Patricia A., The Bentons: How an American Father and Son Changed the Printing Industry, RIT Cary Graphic Arts Press, Rochester, New York, 2011, ISBN 978-1-933360-42-3, p. 220-223.
  3. ^ Lawson, Alexander, Archie Provan, and Frank Romano, Primer Metal Typeface Identification, National Composition Association, Arlington, Virginia, 1976, pp. 34 - 35.
  4. ^ MacGrew, Mac, American Metal Typefaces of the Twentieth Century, Oak Knoll Books, New Castle Delaware, 1993, ISBN 0-938768-34-4, p. 285.
  5. ^ Garfield, Simon, Just My Type: a book about fonts, Gotham Books,, New York Cir, 2010, ISBN 978-1-59240-652-4, pp. 301–302.
  6. ^ "The 8 Worst Fonts In The World", October 28, 2011, excerpt from book
  7. ^ Cost, p. 222.
  8. ^ Garfield, p. 302.

External links[edit]