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Santa Fe: A Public Transportation Study

Contributed by Florian Hardwig on Feb 17th, 2022. Artwork published in .
Santa Fe: A Public Transportation Study
Source: Rachel Cole. License: All Rights Reserved.

This cover features two interesting typefaces. The pen script for “Santa Fe” is not one of them – that’s lettering, with slightly saggy shapes, but lots of energy, and meticulously executed shading.

“A Public Transportation Study” is in Azteca. I haven’t found out yet where this top-heavy design originated. It’s shown in Special Effects and Topical Alphabets from 1978, one of the many alphabet source books that Dan X. Solo put together for Dover Publications. Solo (1928–2012) was primarily a compiler: he collected antique types since he was a kid, and turned this passion into a business in 1962 when he started Solotype, a display typesetting service in California, specializing in “Hard-to-Find Headline Types”. Later in his life, Solo digitized many of the faces he previously offered for phototype. I don’t know if he designed any original typefaces himself. Azteca was offered in two widths. The Condensed was digitized by Solo sometime before 2001. Character made a digitization of the regular width in 2011.

On this cover, the all-caps Azteca is set around a rounded corner, echoing the illustration of Pueblo architecture below. The small print at the bottom uses caps from Theme. This serifless roman sits somewhere between Optima and a hypothetical Times Roman Sans. It was designed exclusively for the IBM Selectric Composer.

The study was published by the New Mexico State Highway Department in cooperation with U.S. Department of Transportation, Urban Mass Transportation Administration.

Via Rachel Cole, librarian at Northwestern University’s Transportation Library.


  • Azteca
  • Theme




Artwork location

4 Comments on “Santa Fe: A Public Transportation Study

  1. Wow, those letters in “Santa Fe” must have been a lot of work to draw with all that hatching. Reminds me of Magnificat. If the artist didn’t make it into a typeface they were really missing a trick. (I do wonder if this could have been type from some obscure vendor…the as seem very similar, no?)

  2. To me, they show all the signs of custom-drawn letters. The two repeating letters are different (apart from their width, it’s best visible in the curvature of the top and of the tail), but not different enough for a typographic alternate. They work OK in the context of these words, but would cause spacing problems in others – I’m looking at the t in particular. Also, the letterforms strike me as not refined enough for this to be a typeface. While there are many crude designs that made it to phototype, this rather reminds me of the results I saw in beginner’s calligraphy classes: stems have inconsistent angles and widths and are partly left-leaning, e is too wide, and both the top and bottom terminals of t are awkward. Finally, the design is quite detailed, with very thin lines – too detailed for phototype: this would only work in extremely large sizes like on this cover.

  3. I’ve managed to find a looser digitization of Azteca; it’s called Yorgi, and is based on this font’s usage on the album of Yorgi on the Old Inca Trail:…

  4. Thank you, Bryson. Yorgi now has an entry.

    Allegedly released in 1972, Yorgi on the Old Inca Trail is in fact a fictional album devised by parody label Clubbo Records in the 2000s.

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