The ITC Franklin Gothic™ typeface family retains the personality and character of the original ATF Franklin Gothic, with only a slight increase in x-height and character width to distinguish it from the earlier version. ITC Franklin Gothic also retains the strength and vitality that is typical of late 19th century American sans serif typefaces.
The original Franklin Gothic™ typeface was the third in a series of sans serif faces designed after American Type Founders was founded. In the early 1900s, ATF’s head of typeface development, Morris Fuller Benton, began to create the type designs that would influence American type design for more than 40 years. The Globe Gothic™ face was his first sans serif design, which was followed shortly thereafter by Alternate Gothic. Around 1902, Franklin Gothic was cut, although it was not released as a font of metal type until 1905.
As he designed Franklin Gothic, Benton was likely influenced by the earlier sans serif designs released in Germany. Berthold had issued the Akzidenz Grotesk® series of typefaces (later known to American printers as “Standard”) in 1898. Akzidenz Grotesk inspired the cutting of Reform Grotesk by the Stempel foundry of Frankfurt in 1903, and the Venus™ series of typefaces by the Bauer foundry, also of Frankfurt, in 1907.
Many years later (in 1980), International Typeface Corporation under license from ATF, commissioned Victor Caruso to create four new weights of Franklin Gothic in roman and italic: book, medium, demi and heavy. This series was followed in 1991 by a suite of 12 condensed and compressed designs drawn by David Berlow.
The capitals are wide (typographers would call them “square”). Lowercase letters share the proportions and letter shapes of serif typefaces, and character stroke weights have a far more obvious thick and thin contrast than most modern sans serif designs. Although somewhat more subtle, weight stress within individual letters also echoes the serif-styled counterparts. For example, the left side of the A is lighter than the right, and the first stroke of the M is lighter than the other three.
Best used as a display face, ITC Franklin Gothic is considered a standard in the newspaper and advertising fields. With its conservative design traits and economy of space, ITC Franklin Gothic is a typeface that has, and will continue to stand the test of time.
In the world of fine art, ITC Franklin Gothic is the official typeface of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, and it is often the font of choice for many of Lawrence Weiner’s art works. In films, ITC Franklin Gothic was used for the title of "Rocky," in addition to subtitles for the "Star Wars" franchise, as well as promotional material for "The Dark Knight." ITC Franklin Gothic is also used widely in television programs, including "The Electric Company", "The Nickelodeon Show" and as logos for TNT, ESPN, Showtime and CBS Sports. ITC Franklin Gothic is also found on the cover of music albums from as disparate performers as Lady Gaga and Van Morrison.