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Peugeot Jerseys

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SimpsonPeugeot300A Simple Design but lots of Variety

On the face of the design used by the Peugeot sponsored racing teams is minimalist to say the least. White body, black cuffs, 3 bands of b&w checkerboard pattern around the middle plus the sponsors name again in black. Simple.

But why then did the jersey on display look wrong? Where did the replica fail to meet my expectations? Well the checkboard bands were too high compared to the ones I remembered but there was something else. Then I realised it was the Peugeot name - or more precisely the typeface used for the name. It was too conventional - too modern - like one of the computer fonts that come as standard with a word processor. Surely before it was more distinctive, more “French”.

So started another one of my amateur researching sessions looking for the real typeface needed to make a more convincing replica.

I thought I knew what the typeface was like, having seen 100s of photos of Simpson, Merckx and the rest - all riding in the famous colours. But real life is not so clear-cut or straight-forward as I was soon to be reminded.

Firstly the design was used over many seasons and more than likely was made from scratch by the clothing company each time. Then over the years the Peugeot logo had most likely been changed to fit the latest fashion or product launch - and some designers do like “updating” their designs regularly. Plus the secondary sponsors also changed - as well as the materials used for the jerseys.

So first it was off to the reference archive of all things pro cycling -
Memoire du Cyclisme

Up to 1962 the Peugeot jerseys were blue and yellow with a very “old fashioned” typeface. It was not until the 1963 season that they switched to the familiar checkboard design and the new logo. They also switched from Dunlop to Englebert as the pro team’s co-sponsor (This dates the above photo at 1963-4). Then in 1965 Michelin came in and appeared on the jersey under the Peugeot logo. This design remained almost unchanged until 1975 when the word Cycles was added above Peugeot. Then BP was replaced by Esso on the sleeves in 1976. This stayed the design until 1981 when the “Cycles” line was removed and in 1982 Shell replaced Esso. The same design was still used until the 1985 season by riders such as Sean Yates, Robert Millar, Gilbert Duclos-Lasalle and Allan Peiper. By then the jerseys were being produced by SMS Santini. For 1986 Michelin remained the tyre supplier but vanished from the jersey and a small “Velo Talbot” logo appeared at the top (to the rider’s right). This was the last in the line - as Z-Peugeot was the new pro team’s name for 1987. And their design was far from modest or understated.
 
That had sorted the dates and sponsors - next it was the changes to the main logo.
 

PeugCompws

 
Hopefully you don’t need to be a specialist typographer to see the variations in these fonts. Look at the “O” - it’s wider than its height in the top version but much narrower than its height in the central version; seen on the Peugeot Michelin jerseys in the Tour de France during the late 1960s. And in between, during the 1980s, it had become a circle (see the blue training top). In human terms it aged from a young slim mountain climber to middle-aged office worker in profile - no personal comments please.

When trying to re-create an earlier style on a PC the simplest solution is to scan an original. And there must be good examples (and possibly even original patterns) still around. But so far nothing that is good enough to act as a master copy of the “slim logo” has turned up - certainly not on my web searches.

The much slower way is to re-draw the characters one at time on a PC using software such as Adobe Illustrator. This means using any available photos simply as a guide. This way provides a design that can be used as part of a replica jersey (or anything else) but just for the words on the jersey.

The “best” solution in my view is to use or re-create the original typeface - then you can make up any words. There must have been a typeface for printing the originals, even if it was in metal type, since I cannot believe that all the materials were hand drawn. So the question is what was that slim Peugeot typeface called - and has anyone re-created it as a computer font?
 

MdS1958-Text1


First look at this banner line (above) taken from a copy of Le Miroir des Sports for 1958. It’s not exactly the same - but it’s getting very close.

And this confirms that there was indeed a commercial font in general use well before something similar on the Peugeot team jerseys in 1962/3.

We still don’t know the name of the type face but it might increase the chances of finding a digital version........
 

What’s That Font?

Finding a font from an image became possible a few years ago - when some bright individuals devised a method to match images of text to the nearest fits from a comprehensive catalogue of digital fonts. This was great - and very popular. But it was too popular and sometime in 2009 it become commercial. The catalogue was cut back to just those fonts that would make money. Free fonts were excluded. So its central feature - finding the name of any matching font - became pointless. It would not even include fonts that were already installed on your PC. Never mind those that you may already have sitting on an installation CD or were free to download from the web.

So after several hours of looking through printed lists and CDs of fonts it was time to move on. The font editor route had become the reluctant, but unavoidable, solution.

Creating a new font from just the word “Peugeot” was not very practical so instead I used the 1958 copy of Le Miroir des Sport as a reference source. On some pages they had used a font that was close to the slim logo seen in 1960s photos. And since everything editable I could tweak the characters in any way needed. Skipping past the hours of trial and error, the results started to get close to that 1950s/60s look -

MdS1958-Text2

Yes - there some differences; both deliberate and accidental. However with a little adjustment to the spacing, a second “N” - and remembering how to type characters with accents - the results from using this new font look close to the real thing. Close enough to be usable without complaint.

So that’s enough on font editing for now.

Next I need to work on another font - the used in the 1970s jersey designs - but first I need a break!

PeugeotJersey1w

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6-Day Races in London
Bygone Bykes
Simpson Museum
Camperdown Track
Saffron Lane Track
Legrams Lane Track
Harlow Track
Peugeot Jerseys
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Tracks in Yorkshire
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