Sign for Savoy Taylors Guild Ltd., The Strand, London (c.1906).

Sgraffito on a wall in the Giudecca section of Venice.

Detail of a neon sign for a barbershop in Grottaferrata, Italy.

Detail of page from Les Ecritures Financiere, et Italienne-Bastarde (1647) by Louis Barbedor, a French writing master.

Detail of store sign for Cortese Frizzoti in Venice. The letters in black have been painted over a gold ground which covers a former store name in mosaic tile.

Medieval inscription in Round Gothic capitals. In the cloister of S. Giovanni in Laterano in Rome.

Capital E and G stencils from collection of Eric Kindel, Reading, England.

Ghost signs with printer’s fist on wall of Rue de la Commune in Montreal.

Detail of painted directional sign for Coney Island covering mosaic sign indicating Up Town Trains. 53rd Street station of the R line in Brooklyn.

Punches for punctuation cut by Giambattista Bodoni at the Museo Bodoniano in Parma, Italy.

Detail of cover of Warren’s Standard Printing Papers specimen book by S.D. Warren (1929). Design, ornament and lettering by W.A. Dwiggins.

Blue Pencil

The Rchive no. 17—Italian neon signs

Detail from pizzeria sign in Testaccio (Rome). Photography by Paul Shaw 2013.
This R is from the sign for Il Grottino, a pizzeria in the Testaccio neighborhood of Rome. It is one of the best pizzerias for eating Roman-style pizza, but hard to find despite being on the busy via Marmorata. Its sign is discreet, faces only one way (towards the Tiber), is often obscured by trees—and only says “PIZZERIA”. Il Grottino was established in the 1930s but the sign is most likely …
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The Rchive no. 16—Three more from London

Arden House detail (Lambeth, London). Photograph by Paul Shaw (2014).
Arden House in the Kennington neighborhood of Lambeth, London was built in 1968. The name over the estate entrance is an excellent example of vernacular lettering: simple and unpretentious. The sans serif capitals are constructed out of flat strips of iron that have been cut and welded together. Combined with the bordering strips the design harks back to some of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s lettering. The R is a plain grotesque/gothic.
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The Rchive no. 15—Hamilton Wayzgoose

R composition (2012).
At the 2012 Hamilton Wayzgoose at the Hamilton Wood Type Museum in Two Rivers, Wisconsin I asked Lucio Passerini, the Milanese master printer who was one of the letterpress demonstrators, to proof some grotesque wood type letters for me. I was a calligraphy demonstrator at the Wayzgoose and I used some of Lucio’s R prints as the basis for improvisational calligraphic compositions for attendees. This one came out the best in terms of both vivacity and composition. For …
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