calligraphy History of Lettering percy smith

Further on Percy Smith – 1907

It was June last year that I ran a piece on Percy Smith (see here), who I had come across through his book, Civic and Memorial Lettering. Today I chanced upon some old copies of the Newsletter produced by the Society of Scribes and Illuminators hidden away at the bottom of a bookcase of mine. I may have joined the group briefly in the 1980s, or have bought them as job lot somewhere, I really can’t remember now. Anyhow, on the front cover of the issue dated Spring 1980 is this photo taken in 1907 at the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts. It’s a fascinating picture in its own right and, as the caption notes, all but one of the twenty students are women. The caption goes on: “A clock in the photograph [not shown] reads 2.57pm and according to the school prospectus for 1907 Percy Smith taught the afternoon calligraphy class. He may be seen at the back talking to a student.”

calligraphy lettering

Hand lettering 2011 – 2

An example written in cement. (Let’s find more.) See here for earlier post.

calligraphy History of Lettering lettering typography

Arnold Bank, calligrapher

[If you did not read the first article please go here]

This picture appeared in a journal called Art Education (March 1985), written by Anne Gregory.

The article has some biographical information about Bank – that he was Emeritus Professor of Design at Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, US; that he worked as Art Director for Time Magazine from 1941-1947; and he lectured at the Royal Society of Arts, England in 1955.

In his day he was highly influential, the article states, and taught many students.

One paragraph stands out for me. “When he became interested in something like paleography, he wrote to EA Lowe of Princeton. This contact resulted in many pleasant weekends with this Oxford scholar in the company of Stanley Morison and Marvin Newman. ‘We used to go see God every weekend!’ recalls Bank. He also wrote to Alfred Fairbank who was the author of A Handwriting Manual. Their correspondence on Renaissance paleography and italic handwriting is now in portfolios in the Cambridge University Library in England and is available for researchers on these subjects.”

More information about Arnold Bank cheerfully received…

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.

calligraphy Elements of Lettering

Civic and Memorial Lettering – c1946

Percy J Delf Smith is not a name I am familiar with. But the other day at my favourite second-hand bookshop (which has been resurrected in a new place, having had to vacate its last premises) I came across his Civic and Memorial Lettering, published in 1946. It’s a gem – pure gold.

Dear Percy ran a workshop called Dorno, though where it was I do not know. (At the end of his author’s note, he has Hampstead, 1945, as his address – but whether that’s where the studio was I’ve yet to research.)

The sub-title to the book’s cover is subtle – for this is a handbook that might be of interest to professionals and students…’and some others’. Who those ‘others’ might be I can’t hazard a guess.

The book is a sort of plea to those who are about to rebuild Britain after the six years of war – in the conclusion he writes: “There seems no reason why, in the future, all our country towns, large and small, should not support a lettering workshop, in touch with local authorities and with the nearest schools of design and art, supplying local needs in carving and painting, giving an interesting life to its workers and making a worthwhile contribution to local amenities.”

Pity that never happened. Below, some of his brush work.


Spot the difference – futura

These illustrations are from a wonderful book called Lettering for Advertising, by Mortimer Leach, 1956. In those days (think Mad Men) advertising drawings were done by hand. I’ll have more to show from this book in future posts.

Sufficient to show the example from his example of how to draw Futura by hand.

Brand design calligraphy Elements of Lettering Humour lettering Typographic ephemera typography

Something early for the weekend – brand and graphic design

A delightful ad taken from The Library of Advertising,vol 7, Lay-out and Commercial Art, by Charles C Kinights, published 1932.

Lovely titling, wonderful graphic.

calligraphy Elements of Lettering lettering Typographic ephemera typography

Remarkable book jacket

Have a look at this book jacket – then try and guess the year of publication (no Googling please!) I’ll reveal the answer tomorrow.

calligraphy Elements of Lettering lettering Typographic ephemera typography

Brand typography and Sunlight soap

Lovely example of packaging, which reminds the consumer of heritage, hence the serifed main font, combined with vibrant colours. [In a forthcoming post I want to discuss the letter U.]

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

Neuland typeface

To those unfamiliar with Rudolph Koch this should come as a beauty. It is real stonecarvers face, bold, strong, very German. This illustration is taken from that marvellous volume Book Production Notes by Newdigate, mentioned in a recent post.

Bernard writes: “Like others of Koch’s types, the Neuland seems to have been designed, not with pen or pencil on paper, but with a cutting tool on wood or soft metal”.

[Click on image to enlarge.]


See also this post of December 2014.