Legacy of Letters 2023: Letterpress Extravaganza—3. Alpignano

July 2, 2023 | Day 3

Editore Tallone

We took a local train from Torino to the small town of Alpignano to spend the day at Editore Tallone. The studio is set in wooded grounds that form a stark, but beautiful, contrast to the suburban air of the rest of the town. The gate to the estate is flanked on the left by a historical marker summarizing the importance of Editore Tallone, founded by Alberto Tallone in Paris in 1938 and moved to Alpignano in 1960. We walked down a tree-lined gravel pathway to the modern home of Editore Tallone where Elisa Tallone was waiting to greet us. Design historian Alessandro Colizzi was also there.

Front gate to the Editore Tallone estate in Alpignano. Photograph by Paul Shaw.

Elisa Tallone welcoming the Legacy of Letters 2023 group to Editore Tallone. Photograph by Paul Shaw.

Susan Fitzgerald climbing into the cab of the locomotive. Photograph by Paul Shaw.

Before we went into the house/studio Elisa and her sister Eleonora showed us the locomotive at the side that Alberto Tallone, their grandfather, and his brother used to travel back and forth between their homes. Everyone took turns climbing into the cab and examining the various dials and instruments. It was  a surprising beginning to a day full of surprises.

Part of the exhibition of works and artifacts associated with the history of Editore Tallone. Photograph by Paul Shaw.

Once inside the house/studio Elisa led us upstairs to a room that showcased the work of Alberto Tallone (1898–1968) and his son Enrico Tallone (b. 1953). There she gave an illustrated talk—using books, prints, and other artifacts from the press—on the history of Editore Tallone. One of the highlights was seeing a sheet printed by Enrico in a range of black inks to show the differences among this basic color. We had to hold up the sheet to the window and use sunlight to see some of the subtle differences in glossiness.

Elisa Tallone showing the work of Alberto Tallone to the Legacy of Letters 2023 group. Photograph by Paul Shaw.

Kelci Baughman McDowell looks on as Elisa Tallone displays the punches for the type designed by Albrto Tallone and cut by Charles Malin in 1949. Photograph by Paul Shaw.

Folded sheet showing twenty-four different black inks. Printed by Enrico Tallone. Photograph by Paul Shaw.

Elisa’s talk was followed by a talk in the print room on the ground floor by Alessandro Colizzi about the history of Fonderia Nebiolo. The talk was inspired by my discovery that Enrico Tallone owns a significant collection of drawings and other archival material from Nebiolo, located in Torino. Alessandro has been part of a group called the Nebiolo History Project that has been documenting the company from many angles.

Alessandro Colizzi (at right) discussing a Nebiolo specimen book with Jacob Ford and Shaqa Bovand. Photograph by Paul Shaw.

After Alessandro’s talk, Enrico showed us his Benton punch-cutting machine. Then we went back upstairs for a leisurely buffet lunch. All of us squeezed around a long table in the dining room eating pasta, toma, salumi, rice salad, grissini, etc. and drinking Piemonte wines. The meal was prepared by Enrico’s wife Maria.

Lunch at Editore Tallone. On the left: Susan Fitzgerald, Stefano Baldassari, and Enrico Tallone. On the right: Jacob Ford and Eleonora Tallone. Photograph by Paul Shaw.

When lunch was over it was time to return to the print room on the ground floor. Instead of making an alphabet keepsake as at Archivio Tipografico, Elisa, Eleonora, and Enrico had prepared a small text about printing that used multiple metal typefaces. Printing was done on a hand press.

A view of the press room at Editore Tallone. Photograph by Paul Shaw.

Enrico Tallone demonstrating the action of the Stanhope hand press. Photograph by Paul Shaw.

Kelci Baughman McDowell inking the type. Photograph by Paul Shaw.

Hofi Benediktsdóttir pulling the bar of the Stanhope hand press. Photograph by Paul Shaw.

Once the keepsakes were printed, everyone wandered around the shop exploring Enrico Tallone’s huge collection of metal and wood type (including a number of 19th century American designs). Historically Editore Tallone has focused on classical typefaces and classical typography. But in recent years the family has begun printing ephemera to show off their collection of display types, especially those made of wood. They refer to this project as the Archive of Styles.

We started the day with a locomotive from the age of steam and we finished with wood type from that same period.

Some wood type at Editore Tallone. Photograph by Paul Shaw.