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Before Macintosh radically changed graphic design in the mid-1980s, most graphic artists used X-acto knives, spray adhesive, markers, and, for highly technical work, burnishers to transfer lettering, screens, and other forms to artwork.

Mecanorma was one such company, based in Versailles. I happen to have a copy of their January 1984 catalog, issued the same month Apple debuted the Macintosh computer during the Super Bowl. In its 350+ pages are featured 200 pages of typefaces (the table of contents alone is 11 pages), plus 11 other sections offering screens, films, dingbats, markers, frames, and almost everything else one would need to produce magazine-quality layouts and graphics.

Enjoy these photos, shot in my basement office, of what is now a lost art form. (That is… you can still buy transfer lettering. But firms like Letraset offering a multitude of fonts are long gone, and most designers use digital tools.) Mecanorma licensed numerous typefaces for this catalog. The original typefaces library has been licensed by International TypeFounders and can be found on various digital lettering storefronts.

Their simulated text, what we call placeholder or Lorem ipsum, can be found here, starting on line 324. Searching online for that text found numerous examples of Splendida porro still being used as a placeholder!

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Originally acquired by my brother, who needed to design a t-shirt for his high school. If memory serves, he used “Stop” by Nebiolo.
A sample page from the 200+ pages of typefaces! Essential for transfer lettering.
Section 2: technical letters and numerals  A short section, offering only ten options. Five in Helvetica; one each in Isonorm, Din, Univers, and Eurostile. (Isonorm is close to Leroy lettering, and more versatile since it was created by the ISO.)
Section 3  symbols and vignettes  All sorts of fun stuff in this section! Mecanorma would even make symbols to order!

Section 4  architectural symbols  These were for architects who needed generic graphics for site plans. Now? You can find apps that will let you design the interiors of your home in much the same way.
Section Five     adhesive and transfer screens    This is what many comics artists (and process junkies) remember! Four-color printing uses four colors, in various screens, to produce a full-color comic. Lots of tiny dots, fooling your eyes, just like a computer monitor does today.
For all those colorists, here are the color screens. Numerous black-and-white textures were available as well.
Section Six  art markers
Section Seven   normacolor self-adhesive films and colour papers.

Section Eight   graphic aids for overhead projection   Specially formulated for acetate. Hmm… which is worse… “Death by PowerPoint” or “I made a slide presentation”?
Section Nine   adhesive tapes for graphic line-work   Me…I’d want a generic UPC barcode tape!
Section Ten   tapes for lines, frames and borders for paste-up work   The coolest thing here? “Twin-face” registration marks. You sandwich the mark between the lower film and the upper film. When they align, you see a black square!
transfer lettering
Section Eleven   mounting, drawing and retouching products storage units   Spray adhesives, rubber cement, fixative, tools, rulers, storage units… all the stuff I’d gravitate towards when visiting office supply stores!

Section Twelve   letters, numerals and symbols for sign-writing   Vinyl lettering. Helvetica, in 15, 25, 50, 75, and 100 mm sizes
Section Thirteen   special prints   Corporate typefaces, logotypes, trademarks, cartography, title blocks, advertising, screens.
“Made-to-measure” design and production of plastic precision tools
I love these proto-emoticons at the end of alphabets!

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