Wood Type


Wood Type - Ballon | International Printing Museumby Jim Thompson, IPM Board of Trustees

The wood-type for May is called Balloon. It was designed in metal in 1939 by Max R. Kaufmann for the American Type Founders (ATF) for use in the dialog balloons of comic strips; hence the name Balloon. It was intended as competition for a typeface named Cartoon designed by Howard Trafton in 1936 for the Bauer Foundry for the same application. Max R. Kaufmann is shown working on his typeface in the photo below. The Balloon typeface was designed in three Italic versions: light, bold, and extra bold. All three versions provide capital letters only, and have a plain yet casual appearance consistent with its intended use. Balloon also found use in display and signage applications, and within a few years it was copied into wood-type. Our sample “COMICS” is a 10 line extra bold version from an unidentified manufacturer. The Balloon extra bold version found some fame from 1984 to 2007 when it was used in the logos of Nickelodeon (the children’s daytime cable channel) and Nick at Nite (the companion evening channel). Both logos are shown below.