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Help solve the 1950s Coca-Cola Vending Machine Serif Font Mystery!

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runofkings

Greetings font wizards, 

I'm hoping you can help me to identify a font used by Coca-Cola in nearly all of its 1950s-era Vendo vending machines that dispensed Coke bottles in exchange for 10 cents.  I'm not talking about the famous Coca-Cola logo script, but instead what appears to be a serif transitional font that combines elements of Adobe Caslon, Georgia Pro, Times New Roman, and Perpetua (among others).  Attached are a couple examples of the font used on the side of Vendo vending machines in the 1950s.  These machines are now being restored to their former glory, and so it would be a great help if you could identify the font so that new decals can be created once again.  If you feel strongly that this isn't a real font (and that perhaps Coca-Cola commissioned these decals from hand painters) please let me know.  I'm looking for both the font name and the font itself, if possible.  Commercial fonts are fine.

Note the following unique characteristics of this font:  

  • Rounded serifs
  • Condensed 'H' 
  • The top serif of the upper-case 'C' is angled left
  • The high ascender on the lowercase 'k' together with
  • the right leg of the lower-case 'k' has a single right-pointing lower serif or foot

 

Thank you in advance for helping me to solve this serif mystery!

 

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MissNobody

If I can side-step the problem a bit. Wouldn't it be easier to transfer existing text as-is to a stencil, and then use said stencil to restore the text on damaged vending machines in return?

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runofkings
1 hour ago, MissNobody said:

If I can side-step the problem a bit. Wouldn't it be easier to transfer existing text as-is to a stencil, and then use said stencil to restore the text on damaged vending machines in return?

Yes.  However, what led me to this forum was the enigma presented by a seemingly traditional serif font that was used on a piece of Americana that doesn't seem to fall into any existing serif font definition.  I didn't come here to solve the more practical problem of how to reproduce the decal for a restoration today, because that problem was solved long ago as machines have now been restored for years using many different methods.  I've seen problems with the stencil technique, including detail degradation over time leading to inconsistent outcomes, especially given what rough shape some of these machines are in after 70+ years (see attached pic of one of my recent machine restorations, before and after).  

 

In any event, finding out what this font is has continued to vex me, and so I thought I'd turn to the group to help me solve this mystery!  Thanks again, everyone.

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IMG_0685.png

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Ralf Herrmann

At that time, fonts were used to print on paper. Everything else, was something else, usually hand-drawn “lettering”. The pictures shown above fit that. There is no specific “font” in use that has a name, so no identification is possible. It’s just custom versions of serif letterforms that some unnamed graphic designer or lettering artist drew for those specific jobs. 

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runofkings
8 hours ago, Ralf Herrmann said:

At that time, fonts were used to print on paper. Everything else, was something else, usually hand-drawn “lettering”. The pictures shown above fit that. There is no specific “font” in use that has a name, so no identification is possible. It’s just custom versions of serif letterforms that some unnamed graphic designer or lettering artist drew for those specific jobs. 

Thank you, Ralf!  You confirmed my suspicion, and your answer seems consistent with other experts who have opined in other contexts.  I think what makes this one more of a challenge than others of its time is because of how closely it does resemble a traditional, old style serif font.  I've spent quite a bit of time on different font identification sites, and there always seem to be just a couple of differences that disqualify one font from being the "right" one.  At the end of the day, it's a great reminder of how versatile fonts can be, even one as seemingly straightforward as a simple serif.

Thanks again!

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