Condensed Roman (Ultra-condensed)
Somewhat rare, this alphabet received limited but steady usage between the late 1940s and the 1990s. In the mid-1990s, a bolder version of the alphabet was created as a plastic stencil press alphabet by the PMD Company for their Cutrite line, and a poorly digitized version was included in the Monu-Cad software, which appears to have been based on the plastic alphabet or on hand-cut letters, and not on the original metal alphabet. Most notably, this alphabet was used on the Barre, Vermont Italian-American Stonecutters Memorial, dedicated to artist Carlo Abate, and designed by Elmo Peduzzi. The text on the monument reads “In honor of all Italian-Americans whose achievements have enriched the social, cultural and civic vitality of this city, region and state”. The alphabet—as its name would suggest—was designed primarily for use when space is an issue, including inside of panels. The alphabet has also tended to be used on civic monuments and war memorials, and other well-designed memorials due to its fairly consistent letter width, allowing it to be more easily justified for a clean look.
History and Designer
The designer and exact date of creation of the alphabet is unknown, but it was created by at least 1950, and likely in the mid-to-late 1940s.
The ultra-condensed width of the alphabet immediately sets it apart from all other alphabets designed for the monument industry. ‘U’ and ‘J’ contain spurs at the base. ‘M’ and ‘N’ did not contain serifs on the top half of the letter as is typical for Roman lettering. The top stroke of the numeral 5 contains an upward spur.
The MLC is not aware of the alphabet containing any punctuation other than an ampersand and dash. The MLC created all other punctuation to match the style of the letters. Two versions of ‘W’ were included in the alphabet—one constructed by overlapping two ‘V’s, and a second with a central apex. Additionally, the Monument Lettering Center created alternates for ‘J’, ‘U’ with the spurs removed; and ‘N’, and ‘M’ with serifs added to the top of the letters where they would typically exist. These alternate characters are available as an alternate when using software that supports OpenType features.