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The Wonderful World of Text and Images on the Queen Mary in Long Beach–The Downfall of the Fonts

Queen Mary is filled with text styles of the 1930s

The font is facing a death of unknown proportions. Back in its heyday, the typesetters worked furiously to create clean-cut type for modern times. No where is the typeface in the era between World War I and II (Between the Wars) more authentic than that found on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA.

This is the fifth in a series of articles about text and image on the ship/hotel Queen Mary docked permanently in Long Beach, CA.

The Queen Mary–beautiful, stately, elegant, formal, deco. More words can describe this ship-hotel than you can imagine when you consider text and images. If your into graphics and art and want a good look at text styles of the Between the War years in the United States, travel to Long Beach and stay a night on the Queen Mary. Don’t forget to bring your camera!

Today they’re called fonts; the letters with which non-verbally communicate just about everything we think with letter styles that were unknown to anyone but graphic designers working on a typesetter. Today the masses know and use fonts.

Who would ever have thought thirty years ago that the entire world would change from vocal language to typewritten language with with such a wide choice of type (fonts).

In the late 20th century, typefaces became a thrill when the first Apple made it to market at a time when the PC was king. Children and adults alike marveled at the number of styles with which they could choose to use in the new Microsoft Word document (or Claris Works if you remember that).

It was as if you were in a grocery store when you went to choose one for a for a special project that at one time only complex typesetting equipment run by a graphics designer could produce. Back then people were exhilarated with the new type, making cards, scrapbooks, posters and advertisements.

During the time Golden Age of the Typeface (as I’d like to call it) the Between the Wars showed everyone that they were now modern. No more organic letter, just minimal clean-looking type.

On the Queen Mary, you’ll run into a magnificent array of typefaces from the ship’s  safety rules to directions for using the exercise equipment to the ubiquitous bow-to-stern layout guides posted by the staircase of every deck.

Fast forward to the late-twentieth century and those fonts were now available to everyone who had a computer. The Between the Wars days led to fonts for everyone.

Suddenly that has come to a halt. It’s 2013, a time of where the use of fonts is diminishing as fast as jobs were lost during the Great Recession. Electronic devices, technology that makes little use of typefaces, has brought down the font party.

To be sure, they’ll still be around as nostalgia, but their use will be nothing like it once was.


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