This is a set of self help books from the 1960’s by iconic graphic desgners Banks & Miles.

Colin Banks (1932 – 2002) and John Miles are probably best known for their work for British Telecom and The Royal Mail in the 1970’s, but they also designed a wide range of books, brochures and other publications, all of which with an attention to typographic flair that is not often seen in modern publishing.

In this set, Helvetica is dutifully employed, but remember, this is original; not flimsy pastiche. I have seven books out of the eight in this series:

The titling is pretty consistent with some neat variations on the theme. I set up the text in Illustrator to look a little closer:

As well as the shortening of the ascender and descender, it is probably more noteworthy that helvetica was not used for the 101. I have matched it to Century Gothic, but it is more likely to be any early cut of Futura Bold, or a modified version at least. A quick scroll back up to the start of this post shows that Helvetica is used on the spine and it is clear that the ones needed to lose the curves…

The contents of the books are also interesting, but not just for the type. The illustrations are very much of the period: simple black and white graphics with coarse dot screens for greys.

I just love the fact that the tips on passing the driving test featured E-type Jaguars and Bentleys! Must have been the swinging sixties after all!

The language used is also very dated but reflects a time when there was still a distinctive class system in Britain and people expected to be spoken to in clipped BBC accents in a firm, but patronising manner. Can you imagine the ‘delight’ on the face of today’s baseball capped, acne-ridden, attention-deficient new driver on receiving the pink pass slip? It is also worth noting that John Miles himself is the author of this book too.

Each book is carefully credited at the front:

The backs of the books are not particularly exciting and each follows the same layout:

A brief Biography of Banks & Miles
Wikipedia entry for Colin Banks
Colin Banks obituary