Detail from station sign at Zerega Avenue (no. 6 train) in the Bronx, New York (1980s). The typeface is Standard (Akzidenz Grotesk). Original signage format designed by Unimark International.

Detail of ligatures from Wilhelm Klingsporschrift (Klingspor, 1926), a blackletter typeface designed by Rudolf Koch (1876-1934).

Celluloid stencils for type design elements. Cut by W.A. Dwiggins, early 1930s.

Detail from (Ms. 2° Philil. 161 Cim. Göttingen) written out by Paduan scribe Bartolomeo Sanvito (1433–1511).

Detail from the gravestone of Mary Tuttle (d.1760), Congregational Church Cemetery in East Hanover, New Jersey. The gravestone was carved by Uzal Ward (c.1726–c.1793).

Writings

Writings comprises commissioned articles (including those for other websites) and books.

Script Type Terminology: A preview of a new book

These pages are from The Roots of Script, the working title for a book on script typefaces that Abby Goldstein and I have been writing since 2010. They are part of the opening section titled “How to Look at Scripts.” Scripts are not like other typefaces. There is almost no existing terminology to describe their letter parts other than terms used in the world of calligraphy. We adopted many of them, but still ended up inventing others.
The first three sheets …
Continue reading

The Nomenclature of Letter Forms: A Brief Review of the Literature

The Belgian typographer Fernand Baudin, in How Typography Works (and why it is important) (New York: Design Press, 1988) wrote, “Novices are mistaken when they suppose there should be a ‘technical term” for every product of their enthusiasm & ignorance.” (p. 98)*. Although Baudin wrote this at the beginning of the digital type revolution—his text was originally published in French in 1984—his words are still applicable today. Indeed, they seem especially relevant as the horde of contemporary type geeks seem to …
Continue reading

More on the National Board on Printing Type Faces

Among the material in the George Macy Papers at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University are three documents from the National Board on Printing Type Faces.
The first document is a second edition of  “National Board on Printing Type Faces: Its Organization and Work” dated 1935. Although the Board had failed in 1930 in its original attempt to reign in the proliferation of new typefaces, it apparently did not dissolve but continued on with an altered mission. No …
Continue reading

“Stop Making Type”: The Quixiotic Quest of the National Board on Printing Type Faces

In 2007 I wrote an article for Print magazine (LXI:V) titled “Stop Making Type” about an organization called the National Board on Printing Type Faces and its doomed attempt in 1929/1930 to limit the number of new typefaces being produced. Since the article is not available on Imprint I am posting my original text and some images from the issue here. I am doing it because I have come across some additional material about the organization at the Newberry Library in …
Continue reading

Some thoughts on Philip Grushkin: A Designer’s Archive

Sophia Angelis has just written a very favorable review of Philip Grushkin: A Designer’s Archive for The Designer’s Review of Books. As nice as it is to receive kind comments, it is even nicer to see a review that does more than simply give a thumb up or a thumb down on a book. Although, I do not agree with all of her opinions, I am glad to see someone voice their likes and dislikes without rancor or gushiness.
To …
Continue reading

Fascism on the Facade (2004)

Once again, I have stumbled across an old article of mine online. It is “Fascism on the Facade” in Print LVIII:III May/June 2004, the 2004 European Design Annual. It can be found on the website (under Lesson Plans) of graphic designer Brian R. Williams as part of his course “Defeating the Ideal: Art and Propaganda, from the Third Reich to the CIA” (HNLA101). I am adding the PDF of the article here Fascism on the Facade-Shaw and also displaying the pages.

The images are …
Continue reading

Philip Grushkin: A Designer’s Archive

by Paul Shaw. New York: Glenn Horowitz Bookseller, Inc., 2013. Designed by Kind Company.
Philip Grushkin (1921–1998) was a calligrapher, book jacket designer and book designer. He studied calligraphy and book design under George Salter at Cooper Union, graduating in 1941. After a stint in the United States Army as a cartographer during the war, he set up as a freelance book jacket designer in New York. In 1956 Grushkin became an assistant book designer to Abe Lerner at World Publishing. …
Continue reading

ITC Bodoni: a review from 1995

I wrote this review of ITC Bodoni for Print magazine in their January/February 1995 issue. I recently stumbled across it online while teaching my History of Type class at the School of Visual Arts. It is posted on the Gale Group website under Gale Student Resources in Context. I have left the text as is, but have added some images since the Gale Group site has none.
Comparison of selected letters from ITC Bodoni 72 (top), ITC Bodoni 12 …
Continue reading

Gushing over Helvetica and the New York City Subway System

Alexander Cameron has just written an exuberantly positive review of Helvetica and the New York City Subway System for I Love Typography. He especially focuses on the design of the book which both Abby and I appreciate. Some of his comments:
The format size of Helvetica+—285mm (w) x 245mm (h)—immediately suggests that this is primarily a book to study, and not necessarily read in transit. Both the text content (including substantial notes and captions) and that of the photography, illustration and …
Continue reading

Philip Grushkin Collection

Philip Grushkin: A Designer’s Archive (2013). Cover design by Kind Company.
The Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University recently announced the acquisition of the Philip Grushkin Collection. Grushkin (1921–1998) was a book jacket designer, book designer and publishing educator and consultant. The collection was acquired from the Grushkin family by Glen Horowitz Bookseller, Inc. I wrote the text for Philip Grushkin: A Designer’s Archive, the catalogue accompanying the collection. It outlines the life and career of Grushkin …
Continue reading

Gilgengart: The tale of a typeface

Gilgengart Fraktur (often shortened to just Gilgengart) was the first typeface designed by Hermann Zapf. Its history is not only complicated but a bit muddy. This is because in the various books on his career, Zapf has given conflicting accounts of its origins and of the dates of each of its stages. Before trying to untangle the true story of Gilgengart, it should be noted that for all of his typefaces Zapf rightly makes a crucial distinction among the three phases …
Continue reading

More conversations with Michael Harvey

History of Western letters integrating calligraphy, epigraphy and printing. Undated spread from notebook by Michael Harvey. Scan courtesy of Michael Harvey.
Last year (27 March 2012) Imprint published an interview I conducted with my longtime friend Michael Harvey, the triple-threat lettercarver/jacket designer/type designer. After it was posted I continued to email Michael with the intention of publishing an addendum to the interview. Unfortunately, after a month or so our conversation petered out as we both became absorbed in other things. In …
Continue reading

Ten Simple Rules for Researching Letterforms

Last fall James Edgar of Camberwell College of Arts in London asked me to contribute something to Whatever Next: a discourse on typography, a small book the college was publishing. The request was last minute so I recycled an essay, “Ten Simple Rules for Researching Letterforms,” I had written originally for Gunnlaugur SE Briem.
I am reprinting my essay yet again for all of those unaware of The Briem Report 2012 or Whatever Next. This is also an opportunity to rectify a …
Continue reading

Legacy of Letters T-Shirt

Legacy of Letters T-shirt with logo in Spencerian script. Handlettered by Tony Di Spigna; digitized by C.J. Dunn; screenprinted by Ink Brigade (Portland, Oregon) who miraculously held the hairlines. White ink on asphalt gray. 100% cotton. American Apparel. Sizes XL, L, M and S. Contact Paul Shaw with your size request after your purchase.

A Chronology of the Lettering Arts from 1850 to 2000: A Work in Progress

by Paul Shaw. Alphabet vol. 25, no. 3 (Spring 2000) and Scripsit vol. 24, nos. 1 and 2 (Summer 2000). 64 pages; 8.25 × 11 inches; 13 images (B&W); paperback; designed by Paul Shaw.
A dense guide to the history of lettering since the middle of the 19th century. Includes lists of books, magazines, articles, exhibitions, conferences, films, and events. There is also a separate list of key figures. An essential source for anyone wishing to research modern lettering, calligraphy and stonecarving.

A Chronology of the Lettering Arts from 1850 to 2000: A Work in Progress: The Pictorial Sequel

by Paul Shaw. Alphabet vol. 26, no. 2 (2001) and Calligraph vol. 23, no. 2 (2001). 64 pages; 8.25 × 11 inches; 230 images. (B&W); paperback with full color cover; designed by Paul Shaw.
A visual companion to A Chronology of the Lettering Arts from 1850 to 2000  with corrections and additional information.