Font identified as Letraset Quicksilver or Quantum.
Font identified as Quicksilver.
[Edit: name was wrong] Dean Morris (Letraset)
Case marked solved.
***THE STORY OF LETRASET’S QUICKSILVER TYPEFACE***
I’m Dean Morris, the designer of the typeface “Quicksilver” that came out in 1976 as part of Letraset’s Letragraphica range of rub-down fonts, the stylishly aggeressive ones in the yellow pages of the catalog. I named the typeface “Quicksliver” because it looked like bent thermometers — quicksilver being a nickname for mercury (I never meant it to suggest neon), and because “Quicksilver” had some of the cooler letters such as Q, K, E, and R. The name was my second choice, however. Letraset Englishly felt that my first choice, “Polished Sausage”, would be “rather unpopular iln foreign markets”. I designed it as a 16 year-old kid in John Glenn High School in Bay City, Michigan, and sent Letraset a xerox of a tight sketch of 3" letters kerned with the heavy outlines slightly overlapping as I originally intended. I drew only the skinny S without an alternate and submitted no punctuation (what did I know?). Letraset must have wanted it real fast (fifties nostalgia and disco were WHITE HOT then, remember), because they did the finished art themselves at 5" high (they can’t have known my age, maybe they had no confidence in my technical talent), starting with the E as did I in the design stage. And what a gorgeous rendering job they did in the pre-Mac days of ruling pens, straightedges, and handdrawn curves (those aren’t compass curves)! Letraset stayed very close to my tight sketch, designed the punctuation, and suggested an alternate but wierd wide S, which I approved, figuring there was probably no other decent way to design it. I imagined the punctuation would match the stroke width of the letters but they drew them narrower and slightly oddly, but I figured what the hell. If you wondered, “What was I thinking?” when you looked at the A, B, E, F, K, N, Q, R, and Y, I’ll tell you. I was simply trying to describe part of the letter being drawn in the wrong direction. I thought I was so clever. For instance the E cross-stroke goes from right to left rather than from left to right like, oh, any other Roman cap E in history. R and Q diagonals came from waaaaaaaay on the other side, N goes waaaaaaay around the wrong way before starting the diagonal. “Chrome” letters can branch but these “glass tube” letters don’t! Alas, digitization came along eventually and fontographer technology followed. Crash went sales of rub-down type, and control of artwork was pirated without my knowledge and beyond my control, which I don’t condone but I totally understand. The first album cover I saw with Quicksilver was Men At Work’s first smash LP, then punk pioneer Stiff Records' logo appeared on 45 rpm labels with a clearly Quicksliver-inspired F. For about ten years I, family, and friends collected food packages, posters, took photos of signs, etc. with Quicksliver from around the world. I think it’s about the easiest typeface to mishandle ever. Eventually I stopped trying to keep track of it. Maybe I’m overestimating its popularity now after 30 years (I totally forgot about it for about a decade), but to me seeing it around at all is itself a rave. I can’t remember why I Googled “Quicksilver Letraset” a few days ago and what I found was a whole community of sites for font identification and original name lists (where they bothered to accurately credit me as designer which gets me RIGHT HERE). It makes me feel less forgotten even though I don’t see royalties. BTW, I never did, nor did Letraset ask me to, design a lower case version. Feel free to pass along this modest piece of graphic microhistory to any Letraheads.
Dean Morris, May 2007, New York City.'
Thank you kindly, Dean Morris...that was an awesome tale. All the better because it was true and from the original designer. ♥
Thanks again, Dean Morris, for the history. It is an awesome journey back in modern typedesign.
thanks to responders. i missed returning some emails. one day i should scan and post my collection of found examples. some funny stuff. email me anything you see.
Just a quick mention of the “Japan” chapter of John Stewart’s book “America”. There’s Quicksilver in a modern publication ripped out of the black hole of analog history.
"The mid to late 1970s: an age of disco and more disco. In its day, disco was a relentless onslaught to at least three senses. 30 years later, all is forgiven. Pretend to celebrate those wretched days with a vintage disco t-shirt font derived from old, screwed up samples of the Helvetica of disco: Quicksilver."
the helvetica of disco, lol I like that.
I don’t understand how Ray Larabie would get credit for Dean Morris' Quicksilver.
Dean Morris -- if you are reading -- I hope you get a fair amount of change for this one!'
thanks lazyvampire and heron2001 for this. designwise this version is marvelously perverse. royaltlywise i can’t control or profit from these things anymore so i cringe at the bad stuff and smile at the good stuff--like what i did when people bought rub-down sheets. the only suggestion i have for ray larabie’s “tight” is to offer several misaligned versions of each character so words can set-up slightly wrong. (and maybe mention me???) :2<)>
Maybe you can collaborate with Larabie -- and of course get your credit where credit is due!
Or maybe it is time for you to digitize your own Quicksilver (hey, he didn’t steal the name) with many alternates (have you heard of “PRO” fonts yet?) and really come out with a truly, wonderful (instead of perverse) disco font!
I’m sure myfonts.com would have no problem signing you on and selling it for you.
i’ve started to post quicksilver pariphanalia on flickr. i have a bunch of other examples saved over the years to scan and post.
Oh Dean - oh Memories!!!
I can’t wait to see if you create a font loaded down with alternatives....
Thank you :-)
Hey Letraheads! Thanks for your interest in this historic cultural oddity. Quicksilver, the Citroen Deux-cheval of typographic aesthetics, looks lame from any angle. I’ve put together examples that I and others have collected over the years.
Another Quicksilver update: For a more fleshed-out history than the above, select “more info...” at: http://www.myfonts.com/person/Dean_Morris/?view=list&sort= (Above I incorrectly said said no compasses were used. I was picturing only the hand-retouched end rounds and how they met straight lines and other curves, I forgot about the obvious circles of O, Q, C, etc.) The history has links to my Flickr Quicksilver Museum.