Beatles fans (like me) can hardly fail to be grabbed by Simon Garfield’s book Just My Type: A Book About Fonts, and the chapter “The Serif of Liverpool” – and in particular its discussion of “the font used to display the band’s name … thick black letters, small spiky serifs, the large boastful B at the start, that long T that extends below the baseline of the other capitals.”
“It wasn’t a typeface … I think I drew it when I was at school,” Paul McCartney explains. “I used to sit around endlessly with notebooks, drawing Elvis, drawing guitars, drawing logos, drawing my signature…” Yet McCartney admits he isn’t altogether sure of the logo’s origins, and Ivor Arbiter, the owner of a London drum shop, claims he designed it for £5. “Whoever was responsible,” says Garfield, “it seems likely that the main subconscious influence on the look of the letters came from Goudy Old Style – which would place the nameplate of the most famous English pop group of all time firmly in the heritage of early 20th-century America.”
Garfield is based in London and is not a familiar name in the incestuous world of either design journalism and commentary or the type conference circuit; but that is one reason this collection of essays is so enjoyable.