Since their initial release, the Trade Gothic® typefaces have been a staple of North American graphic design. For a time, the design was even seen as a formidable competitor to the Helvetica® family. Trade Gothic bridges the gap between the somewhat quirky grotesques of the late 19th century and the carefully modulated typefaces that began to emerge in the mid-20th century.
The first of the typefaces that were to eventually make up the Trade Gothic family were released in the late 1940s. Developed by Jackson Burke, who was the director of typographic development at Mergenthaler Linotype at the time, the faces went by the simple name of “Gothic,” with a numeric suffix (Gothic No. 17 through Gothic No. 20). These were condensed sans serif designs that proved to be very popular for what was then called “jobbing” or “trade” work. It wasn’t until several years later that designs of regular proportions were drawn and the group of faces was given the name “Trade Gothic.”
In 2009, Akira Kobayashi, type director at Monotype Imaging’s Linotype subsidiary, took the design of Trade Gothic and updated it to modern digital standards in Trade Gothic Next.
The Trade Gothic family can be used in a wide variety of projects, and the condensed versions are excellent for headlines and other instances where space is at a premium. This also makes Trade Gothic a good choice for typography with Web fonts.