Alphabet de la Brodeuse: or embroidery

The illustrations shown here are taken from a small volume (14cm x 10cm)  entitled Alphabet de la Brodeuse, lettres, chaffers, mono grammes et ornaments a points competes which was published by Editions Th. de. Dillmont  of Mulhouse (France), not dated. In essence, it is an example of alphabets that can be used in needlework.

alphabet Elements of Lettering History of Lettering

Edward Johnston, London, handwriting and a bit more

Over the last year or so since this blog has been up and running I can find no mention of Edward Johnston. I don’t know how this can be, given how important he was to the growth of lettering in the early twentieth century and his continuing influence on designers. Let this post be a belated apology for the gap. It starts with this brochure for a book printed in 1994 by the London Transport Museum, called London’s Handwriting. I regret that I did not subscribe but expect the price of 295 pounds was a put off to a struggling hack with a young family and a huge mortgage back then. Google turns up a few references to the volume but I can’t find any for sale through the normal sources (ABE etc). If you hear of one please let me know, or snap it up as it appears to be a fine example of fine printing. 

For those who don’t know Edward Johnston visit the Foundation

and there’s a fascinating overview here.—Final-Report–Appendix.pdf

As with many archives, a lot of his stuff is now in the US, at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana. As with Gill I’d urge any American readers who live nearby to go visit. For those in the UK a visit to Ditching is a must – just 9 miles north of Brighton. With spring in the air now’s the time…


Times Roman Poster from Monotype

Talking about TNR in the previous post reminded me of this poster in the Monotype series


alphabet lettering Typographic ephemera

Wonderful world of architectural lettering – Australia

This relates to an earlier post and is on the roof of a building near me. I love the concept, it’s both advertising and pure exuberance. I think there is something Italian about it – though this is east coast Australia (hence the blue/blue sky).

alphabet Elements of Lettering History of Lettering Thoughts on lettering

Letraset – or sticky-on lettering

A recent post about space-age typography made me wonder about the fate of Letraset, that rub-on lettering  highly popular in the 1970s and 1980s, maybe a bit longer. Computer typography has made the process obsolete, as Letraset made hand-drawing of lettering obsolete. I remember using it and cursing when it failed to peel off from the backing plastic. It was a pain but when it did work it was quick.

Here are some of the fonts, taken at random, from a catalogue dated 1980 that I have in my collection.

alphabet Humour lettering typography

Who loves Helvetica?

I was doing some freelance work at a publishing company the other week and in the office I was sharing was this piece of art on the wall. See here for another Helvy post.

Love the cat.

alphabet calligraphy Elements of Lettering History of Lettering lettering lettering, typography, alphabets, stonework typography

Arnold Bank, The Craft of Lettering, Penrose Annual, 1955

The image that follows is taken from the Penrose Annual of 1955. I chose it because it is good lettering’. It is titled: ‘The beginning and the end of the letter’s repertoire” and was printed offset by The Kynoch Press. (I shall have more on Arnold Bank, from an article printed in Art Education, March 1985, including a photo, very soon.)

A quick Google search gave this information on Banks:

Arnold Bank Collection of Calligraphy and Letter Arts

“Calligraphy is the autographics of alphabetics. . . . Calligraphy is simply the art of writing,
or of sketching and drawing transferred to the use of letter design, on the beautiful blank
of a fine sheet of paper. . . . Now in doing it, it has to be clear and it has to be beautiful.”
Arnold Bank (1908-1986)

Arnold Bank, Carnegie Mellon University professor in the Design Department from 1960-1984, was a calligrapher of international stature. His career spanned the fields of education, publishing, advertising, printing, and architectural lettering. Bank, as a Senior Fulbright Fellow, taught at the Royal College of Art in London from 1954-1957, and was art director in the Time magazine promotion department from 1941-1947.

In 1985 the University Libraries acquired Arnold Bank’s professional papers. The collection is rich in drawings for his major works and commissions, historical samples of calligraphy, teaching tools and lectures, correspondence, and samples of work from his students and colleagues, world-wide. A finding aid to the collection is available.

The work of Arnold Bank includes the lettering for the inscription on the memorial to John D. Rockefeller, Jr. at Rockefeller Center, the editorial lettering for the serialization of The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway in Life magazine, and the masthead used for more than forty years by the weekly journal Printing News.


Hermann Zapf and Antiqua

The image shown is taken from the 1989 Annual and Calendar produced by the International Cooperation of Typedesigners and Type manufacturers Printers and Typographers. A magnificent production I don’t know if it is still produced but it was printed and bound in what was then still West Germany, the publisher being Typostudio SchumacherGebler. It was a trilingual production (English, German and French).

The calendar format allowed each month to be devoted to a designer and typeface, this example from October. (Click on image to enlarge.)

alphabet lettering

Something for my Valentine (or yours)

With thanks to Cast of Characters, 1998, and Marian Edmunds (kiss, kiss). Note: The heart was drawn by marian on an iPad using an app.

alphabet Brand design Elements of Lettering eric gill History of Lettering lettering Thoughts on lettering typography

UHU glue, Futura and Kabel

UHU Glue is one of the most distinctive brands around, simple use of black on yellow, strong typeface that underscores the strength of the product. Futura dates back to 1927, designed by German printer Paul Renner during a period when designers were looking at ways to create a geometric sans-serif. It may owe its genesis to work by Edward Johnston and his famous alphabet for London Underground

On launch Futura was criticised as being ‘block letters for block heads’ but over 80 years later it still looks good. According to Alexander Lawson, author of Anatomy of a Typeface (Hamish Hamilton, 1990), for whom I am indebted for the basis of this article, ‘the type became enormously successful and instigated a sans-serif renaissance that quickly spread from Europe to the US’.

It inspired other designers, among them Rudolf Koch who designed Kabel, made public also in 1927. Lawson notes that in the lowercase the ‘e reaches back to the VEnetian period in its retention of the slanted crossbar’ while in the uppercase ‘several letters are unique in having slanted stroke endings’.

As an end note Gill Sans was launched in 1928 by Monotype in the UK but, writes Lawson, ‘the American Monotype firm refused to offer the Gill type for the American market’, which is how Futura became so widely used there.