Having spent the first eleven years of his life as an only child, the printer and inventor Linn Boyd Benton had hoped when he married his wife Jessie that they would have a large family. But the birth of their son Morris Fuller on 30 November 1872 nearly cost Jessie her life, and so the two of them decided not to have any more children.
Morris Fuller Benton, circa 1915 (Image: ATF)
Morris Fuller Benton’s exceptional talent as a draughtsman predestined him to study mechanical engineering and, in 1896, secured him a job as an assistant to his father at the New York headquarters of the American Type Founders Company (ATF). ATF had come into being four years previously as a merger of 23 American type foundries. Benton was appointed as chief type designer at ATF in 1900. In the years that followed he designed a multitude of typefaces, including Parisian, Broadway, Cheltenham, Poster Bodoni, Balloon Light, News Gothic and, in 1903, Franklin Gothic
. The latter later enjoyed a similar status in the USA to that of Helvetica or Univers in Europe.
Franklin Gothic is the corporate font of the Museum of Modern Art in New York
ATF was hit hard by the Great Depression of the interwar years. Morris Fuller Benton left the company in 1937 because of ill health, and died of a pulmonary embolism in 1948.