Ink traps on a poster

Once riding through old Schanzenviertel, heart filled with glee, I came across the below sign for some coffee related beverages. I only noticed when I was past the sign but the impression was huge enough for me to actually walk back and take a snapshot. The font used for this sign – Bell Centennial – is very uncommon. The first thing you notice are the huge ink traps. Ink traps are exaggerated corners in fonts that are supposed to suck in superflous ink. Without ink traps, ink tends to gather in the corners, making them round and – with decreasing font size – the letters illegible. So type designers include ink traps in typefaces to collect the ink and reduce or avoid this effect.

Bell Centennial was designed with telephone directories in mind: these books have to cover much information. With a wide font they tend to get very large and expensive to print. So the idea was to create a font that is narrow, readable in tiny font sizes and still have a range of weights. What definately was not in the mind of the type designers are posters: Letters this large clearly do not need ink traps. Taking the bad font choice for the rest of the poster into account I guess this is just a random font selection by a typography-illiterate shop clerk. But still interesting somehow.

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