Antique Olive by Roger Excoffon

Antique Olive: a unique and characterful sans serif by Roger Excoffon

Antique Olive
Antique Olive™ is one of the most famous fonts from French designer Roger Excoffon. The sans serif font Antique Olive challenges conventional design patterns with its atypical letter forms. For this reason, it is very popular among designers and has earned a permanent place as a logo and headline font over the years.


About the typeface:

Antique Olive has its roots in the early design experiments with stylistically exaggerated letters in the 1950s. Even if the experimental character was toned down, its traces are still clearly visible in the first public appearance of the font in the early 1960s as the logotype for Air France. The first two styles of the font, expanded to a complete alphabet, appeared a short time later, still under the name “Nord”. More styles were added gradually until the font family was complete in the early 1970s. By the way, the name comes from the French word for sans serif (antique) and the name of the foundry, Fonderie Olive.

 Antique Olive

Apart from the extreme x-height, the very thin connections and the associated contrast in weight stand out. The distribution of weight in the line is in some cases unusual and striking. This is very much evident in the letter “o”, which is thicker at the top than on the baseline. Along with the shape, which tapers downwards, the character looks as if it would stand on its head. The same applies for the “s”.

 Antique Olive

The sharply cut line ends give Antique Olive a somewhat hard, but also delicate character that is toned down a little again by the oval points. In contrast, the angular points of the Light style are different again and lend the font a slightly modified character.

 Antique Olive

While narrow styles of Antique Olive can definitely be used in body text, the family is clearly designed as a headline font with an emphasis on the bold and wide styles. Bold Condensed, Compact, and the Nord styles set the tone with their powerful forms and cut a fine figure, particularly in the larger font sizes.

 Antique Olive

Individual letter forms lend Antique Olive a high degree of recognition value and set the font apart from the majority of sans serif families. Its characterful design is nonetheless adequately restrained and neutral, so that the font doesn’t overemphasize itself or wear off too quickly. Use Antique Olive for logos, headlines or printing jobs.

 Antique Olive

 Roger Excoffon

About the designer:

Roger Excoffon was born in Marseille, France in 1910. After studying law, he went to Paris, where he worked as an apprentice in a printing house and studied painting. He eventually founded his own advertising agency in 1947 and became the design director of the small font foundry Fonderie Olive in Marseille. One of his biggest clients was Air France; he began working as an art director for them in 1956. In addition, Excoffon was responsible for the symbols for the Winter Olympics in Grenoble in 1968. In addition to the above-described Antique Olive, the dynamic script font Mistral® and the brush font Choc® are among his other best-known fonts. Roger Excoffon died in Paris in 1983.

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