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The Sound of Harlem album art

Contributed by Florian Hardwig on Nov 1st, 2020. Artwork published in .
    The Sound of Harlem album art 1
    Source: jpdubs / J’etudie la com’. License: All Rights Reserved.

    The Sound Of Harlem is the third and final volume of a series titled Jazz Odyssey. Released by Columbia Records in 1963/1964, each box set comprises three LPs and a booklet with extensive liner notes, photos, and credits.

    All covers were designed by Milton Glaser. This one has the most interesting type. The title represents the earliest in-use example of Halloween that I’ve come across so far. This all-caps face is shown in the section of “pop type” inspired by the 1920s in the second volume of Photo-Lettering’s Alphabet Thesaurus from 1965. The designer is unknown. In the One Line Manual of Styles, it’s listed as “original handlettered design”. The relatively low catalog number 1694–4 suggests a design date that’s considerably earlier (1950s?) – by 1965, Photo-Lettering’s count was already in the 5000s. As far as I know, Halloween hasn’t been digitized yet. The rights to the Photo-Lettering assets lie with House Industries.

    Halloween as shown in Photo-Lettering’s One Line catalog (1971).
    Photo: Florian Hardwig. License: CC BY-NC-SA.

    Halloween as shown in Photo-Lettering’s One Line catalog (1971).

    Glaser’s Baby Teeth is similar in style, see especially the S made from two semicircles. He designed it around this time, in 1964 or 1966, depending on which source one trusts. Baby Teeth is inspired by a hand painted sign spotted in Mexico City. I’d like to believe that Glaser’s familiarity with Halloween was a minor influence, too.

    The series name is set in caps from a light, low-contrast Clarendon. It’s probably Consort Light, a style that originated in metal at Stephenson Blake. Photo-Lettering carried an adaptation. The logo for Columbia’s Jazz Archive Series uses Futura Black.

    [More info on Discogs]


    • Halloween
    • Consort
    • Futura Black




    Artwork location

    2 Comments on “The Sound of Harlem album art”

    1. Thanks to Nick for confirming that Halloween was listed already in the first volume of Photo-Lettering’s Alphabet Thesaurus from 1960! This supports my assumption that the face was drawn in the 1950s.

    2. For a similar style of illustration, see also the work of Sandy Hoffman.

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