Type Research: Gill Sans

Eric Gill created Gill Sans (the “Helvetica of England”), drawing inspiration from Johnston Sans which was designed for the London Underground in 1913. Gill first experimented when he hand-painted lettering for a bookshop sign in his hometown, Bristol in 1926.

Stanley Morison, a Monotype advisor, noticed the alphabet for its commercial potential. Morison commissioned Gill to develop a complete font family to compete with the sans-serif designs. The font was released commercially by Monotype in 1928 as Gill Sans.

Many notable companies adopted Gill Sans as a corporate typeface by the mid-1900’s, including the BBC, British Railways, Penguin and Monotype themselves — making it Monotype’s 5th best seller of the twentieth century.

Gill Sans is still used widely in companies like BBC World News, eHarmony, United Colors of Benetton, Penguin Books, Tommy Hilfiger and Toy Story.