Starter Fonts - What are your top picks?

Thanks to all the help I’ve gotten on this forum, I’m finally the happy owner of a new (old) Kelsey 5x8. I’ve been directed to boxcarpress for custom graphic plates, but I’ll also need some type.

I want to make stationary, invitations and cards (for myself only! I’m VERY aware of my ineptitude) and I was wondering what fonts would allow me enough design options without being overly ambitious.

Is there a perfect ratio? Like, 1 calligraphy: 2 sans serifs: 1 serif? Which fonts are your basic “must-have” picks?

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IMO, you can never have enough cases of varied faces. I think it’s good to have a large selection of at least a single face in a few sizes in both a serif and sans serif. Then again, my intention is to do more than name and address so your needs may vary ;)

It is such a loaded question that it is almost impossible to answer. What are your tastes/uses/etc.

The late Cliff Leonard said it best, “There are only two classes of type, the type you have and the type you don’t have. Those you don’t have are always better.”

In 32+ years of collecting and using type, I now have over 1,900 fonts of handset type in my shop. Do I have enough? My wife certainly thinks so, but……..

“There are only two classes of type, the type you have and the type you don’t have. Those you don’t have are always better.”

Exactly. I have got about 25 fonts, some are roman, mostly italics with no roman to go with, others are display and scripts. Even thought I have got these I think that the ones I don’t have are the most interesting ones …

Depending on what cards or whatever you are going to print, you should consider sizes. For cards small faces maybe adequate and you maybe could collect half a dozen fonts and then see how it goes.

About what fonts… I can’t say. I guess is more a matter of opportunity, because it not just buying the type, first you will have to find it, in a way that works for you. Cheers. André

Hi, a few of my favorites:
Copperplate Gothic 6pt - 4 sizes, a must for business cards.
Garamond Oldstyle - all purpose serif. 6-72pt
Spartan or Futura - all purpose sans serif 6-72pt
Garamond and Spartan are available in Italic and Bold, Spartan is additionally available in Condensed.
Cursives: Park Avenue, Coronet, Brush. 12-24pt. Park Avenue is a good announcement/invitation choice.
BTW: when using cursive or text fonts never use all caps. It is a mark of a tyro.

What you need to evaluate is how much printing am I going to be doing? You can spend a fortune on type so you should make yourself familiar with what is available in the marketplace today.

Get a copy of Mac McGrew’s “American Metal Typefaces of the 20th Century” available from Oak Knoll Books. Hard foundry type is the best overall buy, some of which is available at NA Graphics some on eBay. If you plan to print invitations you would want to concentrate on faces 24 point and under. Look for pretty cursives or perhaps quirky retro. If you wish to print posters you have to have large faces. It is possible to build a family of type (i.e. all sizes of a particular typeface) but it takes time and money.

There is a lot more available in Monotype and right now M&H Type in San Francisco has a getting aquainted deal - 2 complete fonts 12pt and 18pt of the same face for about 30% off the regular price. Monotype will not take much abuse because it is softer than foundry type but it is a bit cheaper and you can buy additional upper or lowercase fonts as you need them.

You need to do your research or you’ll end up like me… dragging type cabinets across the country full of type that I acquired cleaply but have never used.

Four fonts in various sizes that I keep going back to are :

Gill Sans (sans serif)
Plantin (serif)
Palace Script (italic script)
Light English Text (blackletter)

I now have an expanding collection of 60 to 120pt Wooden type of various mixed fonts, which is great for more experimental multi-colour work.

look at what skyler shippley currently has available.

You guys are amazing - thanks for all the help and suggestions.

I really thought I knew what I wanted when I showed up at Don Black’s door in Toronto looking for type…and then he took me into his warehouse and I realized what the Cliff Leonard quote really meant. Wow. I don’t think I’ve ever been more aware of what I didn’t have - or how much itty bitty chips of lead cost!