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Metra tickets, 1990–1991

Every month, Chicago’s commuter rail system releases a new ticket design. We examine the typographic diversity found in this batch of early 1990s ephemera from the collection of Nick Rougeux.

Contributed by Florian Hardwig on Sep 17th, 2023. Artwork published in
circa 1990
.
January 1990, ft. an unidentified rounded sans
Source: www.c82.net C82 / Nicholas Rougeux. License: All Rights Reserved.

January 1990, ft. an unidentified rounded sans

February 1990 ft.  Bold
Source: www.c82.net C82 / Nicholas Rougeux. License: All Rights Reserved.

February 1990 ft. Italia Bold

C82 is the website of Nicholas Rougeux, a Chicago-based designer and data artist. One of the many great things one can find on C82 is his collection of train tickets sold by Metra. Every month, the commuter rail system in the Chicago metropolitan area releases a new ticket design. In 2004, Nick started collecting. Over the years, and with the help from other ephemera enthusiasts as well as of Metra, the archive considerably grew in size. At the time of writing, it includes an impressive 1,395 tickets, spanning more than fifty years of commuter history.

This post highlights the monthly tickets from 1990 and 1991. In a recent blog update, Nick comments:

In the early 90s, ticket designs varied significantly with new typography and visual styles appearing each month. I can’t say these are some of my favorites but I recognize that this may have been in an effort to curb counterfeiting. However, I do enjoy some of the typography from the 1990s tickets. I owe a big thanks to fellow collector John for these and others.

Each of the tickets features a different typeface. Many of the chosen fonts stem from the libraries of ITC (Korinna, Quorum, Serif Gothic, Zapf Chancery, …) and Letraset (Caxton, Italia, Romic, …). There are also classics that go back to the era of foundry type, like Beton, City, or Optima, and Monotype originals like Albertus and Plantin. The typographic smorgasbord is completed by designs as diverse as Moderne Schwabacher, a turn-of-the-century blackletter; Salut, an upright script first cast by Gebr. Klingspor in the 1930s; and Checkmate, a futuristic sans with chamfered corners, dreamt up at Schaedler in the 1970s – all of which were either used still as phototype, or in the form of early digitizations.

For the year 1990, all abbreviated month names are shown in vertically stretched letterforms. The source of the stacked numerals (“90”) was identified by Quinn as City Bold, see comments. The bitmap caps (“D/A”) are likely custom. While the spelled-out month names and the ticket numbers are similar to OCR-B, the specific font appears to be a proprietary design with some differences, probably from a specialized printing machine.

The Metra logo seen on the depicted train as well as on some of the tickets is Crillee. See also the dedicated post about it.

March 1990 ft.
Source: www.c82.net C82 / Nicholas Rougeux. License: All Rights Reserved.

March 1990 ft. Macbeth

April 1990 ft.  Bold
Source: www.c82.net C82 / Nicholas Rougeux. License: All Rights Reserved.

April 1990 ft. City Bold

May 1990 ft.
Source: www.c82.net C82 / Nicholas Rougeux. License: All Rights Reserved.

May 1990 ft. Checkmate

June 1990 ft.
Source: www.c82.net C82 / Nicholas Rougeux. License: All Rights Reserved.

June 1990 ft. Roberta

July 1990 ft. what appears to be a version of Filmotype Amber (or a similar face)
Source: www.c82.net C82 / Nicholas Rougeux. License: All Rights Reserved.

July 1990 ft. what appears to be a version of Filmotype Amber (or a similar face)

August 1990 ft.
Source: www.c82.net C82 / Nicholas Rougeux. License: All Rights Reserved.

August 1990 ft. Salut

September 1990 ft.  a.k.a. Chalet Text
Source: www.c82.net C82 / Nicholas Rougeux. License: All Rights Reserved.

September 1990 ft. Moderne Schwabacher a.k.a. Chalet Text

October 1990 ft.  Condensed
Source: www.c82.net C82 / Nicholas Rougeux. License: All Rights Reserved.

October 1990 ft. Clarendon Condensed

November 1990 ft.  Bold Condensed
Source: www.c82.net C82 / Nicholas Rougeux. License: All Rights Reserved.

November 1990 ft. Beton Bold Condensed

January 1991 ft.  Bold
Source: www.c82.net C82 / Nicholas Rougeux. License: All Rights Reserved.

January 1991 ft. ITC Quorum Bold

February 1991 ft.  Ultra
Source: www.c82.net C82 / Nicholas Rougeux. License: All Rights Reserved.

February 1991 ft. ITC Kabel Ultra

March 1991 ft.  Heavy with the pointed forms for M and A that were omitted from the digital version. “March 1991” uses  and .
Source: www.c82.net C82 / Nicholas Rougeux. License: All Rights Reserved.

March 1991 ft. ITC Serif Gothic Heavy with the pointed forms for M and A that were omitted from the digital version. “March 1991” uses ITC Korinna and Times New Roman.

April 1991 ft. a bold variant of
Source: www.c82.net C82 / Nicholas Rougeux. License: All Rights Reserved.

April 1991 ft. a bold variant of Plantin

May 1991 ft. a bold variant of
Source: www.c82.net C82 / Nicholas Rougeux. License: All Rights Reserved.

May 1991 ft. a bold variant of Albertus

June 1991 ft.  Bold
Source: www.c82.net C82 / Nicholas Rougeux. License: All Rights Reserved.

June 1991 ft. Caxton Bold

July 1991 ft.  Bold
Source: www.c82.net C82 / Nicholas Rougeux. License: All Rights Reserved.

July 1991 ft. Optima Bold

August ft.  Bold
Source: www.c82.net C82 / Nicholas Rougeux. License: All Rights Reserved.

August ft. ITC Cheltenham Bold

September 1991 ft.  Bold with the alternate swash caps
Source: www.c82.net C82 / Nicholas Rougeux. License: All Rights Reserved.

September 1991 ft. ITC Zapf Chancery Bold with the alternate swash caps

October 1991 ft. a bold variant of
Source: www.c82.net C82 / Nicholas Rougeux. License: All Rights Reserved.

October 1991 ft. a bold variant of Century Oldstyle

November 1991 ft.  Bold
Source: www.c82.net C82 / Nicholas Rougeux. License: All Rights Reserved.

November 1991 ft. Romic Bold

December 1991 ft.
Source: www.c82.net C82 / Nicholas Rougeux. License: All Rights Reserved.

December 1991 ft. ITC Berkeley Oldstyle

Typefaces

  • Crillee
  • Italia
  • Macbeth
  • City
  • Checkmate
  • Roberta
  • Filmotype  April / Amber / Arab
  • Salut
  • Moderne Schwabacher
  • Clarendon
  • Beton
  • ITC Quorum
  • ITC Kabel
  • ITC Serif Gothic
  • ITC Korinna
  • Times New Roman
  • Plantin
  • Albertus
  • Caxton
  • Optima
  • ITC Cheltenham
  • ITC Zapf Chancery
  • Century Oldstyle
  • Romic
  • ITC Berkeley Oldstyle
  • Helvetica
  • Helvetica Condensed
  • unidentified typeface

Formats

Topics

Designers/Agencies

Artwork location

4 Comments on “Metra tickets, 1990–1991”

  1. I believe the stacked 90 is also city bold

  2. Didn’t occur to me, but yes, that could be it. Thanks!

  3. Wow, imagine being served a monthly typographic surprise on your morning commute. What a treat!

    Have some more:

    August 1989 ft. Herkules, with a mid-word color change. That funky “89”?

    December 1989 ft. Sintex, with a bouncing baseline and a color change as well
    October 1993 ft. stacked Rockwell
    April 1994 ft. (stretched?) ITC Benguiat Gothic

  4. Thanks for these additions, p-k! Those shiny metallic numerals for “89” are taken from Eightball. I also want to point out the non-standard Metra logo on the 1993 ticket – in bold italic Friz Quadrata instead of Crillee.

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