Morris Fuller BENTON, a master of precision Type Design by Nicholas Fabian.
A master of precision type design
Morris Fuller Benton, Type Designer

by Nicholas Fabian

Morris Fuller Benton was born November 30, 1872 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Even as a youngster, he had a strong mechanical aptitude and was also by nature, an excellent draftsman. Incredibly, at age 11 he was already designing and printing small jobs such as admittance tickets, work receipts, and booklets of riddles for the neighbourhood on his own press in his parents' home. He graduated in 1896 as a Mechanical Engineer from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. A few months later he joined American Type Founders in New York City as his father's assistant, and became immersed in type design, type manufacturing, and engineering for the graphic arts. His father, Linn Boyd Benton, was by this time famous in the printing trade for his invention of the Benton punch cutting machine, patented in 1885, and because of his inventive genius, became the technical director of the newly formed company, ATF. (In 1892, twenty-three American type foundries, including the Benton, Waldo & Co., amalgamated into the American Type Founders Company (ATF)).

HOBO, type sample 1
Text sample of "HOBO," designed by Benton in 1910. The design shows
a strong art Nouveau movement influence.

In 1900, Morris Fuller Benton became American Type Founders' chief type designer, where he spent his entire working life and retired in 1937 from the trade at age 65. He died on June 30, 1948 in Morristown, N.J. Benton's professional life was the pinnacle of extensive subject research combined with functional typographic creativity, supported by precision engineering.

Parisian, type sample 2
Text sample of "Parisian," designed by Benton in 1928.
An elegant departure from the mundane commercial typefaces.

Some of the typefaces Morris Fuller Benton designed are:

Century Expanded (1900), was a complete redraw of Century Roman which was designed in 1894 by his father, Linn Boyd Benton, for Theodore Low DeVinne, the publisher of Century Magazine, Cloister Old Style (1897), Linotext (1901) was first released by American Type Founders as "Wedding Text", Whitin Black [Bold Antique] (1904), Linoscript (1905), originally at ATF it was named "Typo Upright", News Gothic (1908), Century Oldstyle (1908-1909), Clearface Gothic (1907-1910), Hobo (1910), strongly influenced by the Art Nouveau movement, Franklin Gothic (-1912), this design was based on Benton's original Franklin Gothic family designed in 1902, Bodoni (1908-1915), was based on the late 18th century designs of Giambattista Bodoni of Parma, Italy, Century Schoolbook (1918-1921), Goudy Extra Bold (1927), Parisian (1928), Bulmer (1928), this was a revival of William Martin's typeface from 1792, Bank Gothic (-), Chic (1928), Broadway (1928-29), Goudy Catalogue (-), Modernique (1928), Novel Gothic (1928), Louvaine (1929), Garamond-3 (1930-) was co-designed with Thomas Maitland Cleland, Stymie (1931), Agency Gothic (1933), Tower (1934), Whitehall (1934), Phenix (1935) and Clipper (1951).

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