Legacy of Letters 2023—2×5 Alfabeti dei Caratteri di Legno

With the exception of the divider pages, the Glossary involved setting small metal type. The design decisions were those of micro-typography, especially finding different ways to distinguish English terms from Italian ones. The participants were quite inventive in achieving this. They contrasted style, case, weight, width, and size—and combinations of those parameters. Although the divider pages used larger type, there was still not much freedom to be creative because of the small page size.

The participants had a chance to stretch out with a second, less restrictive project: a broadside displaying a large size wood typeface. These broadsides were intended to match—in size and general content—those that were printed as keepsakes at three of the four letterpress studios visited as part of the Legacy of Letters 2023 tour. In the end, the simple brief was not always followed. Some of the typefaces chosen were plastic instead of wood; one broadside had two typefaces; one alphabet design bled on two sides; and two broadsides played games with the alphabet.

In order to get all of the broadsides printed we used one hand press along with the three cylinder presses. This led to some drying problems since those printed on the hand press had greater ink coverage. We stuck to the same red we had used for the divider pages of the Glossary.

The portfolio is entitled 2×5 Alphabeti dei Caratteri di Legno* as a companion to 5 Alfabeti dei Caratteri di Legno, the portfolio of broadsides produced at the letterpress studios. I added the asterisk to indicate that not all of the typefaces used are wood as I had originally intended. Five of the eleven typefaces are actually made of plastic and one is made of metal. (There are eleven rather than ten typefaces because Eran Ben Barak included two in his broadside.)

I designed the cover for the portfolio and, with the help of Leonardo Facchin, typeset it. Sayre Gaydos was responsible for the typography for the credit on each broadside.


Cover / Paul Shaw

Cover sheet for 2×5 Alfabeti dei Caratteri di Legno*. Design and typography by Paul Shaw with the assistance of Leonardo Fachin. The typeface for the title is unknown; the one used for Legacy of Letters is Estro by Aldo Novarese (Fonderia Nebiolo, 1961)


Stefano Baldassari

Broadside designed, typeset and printed by Stefano Baldassari. The typeface is Hastile by Alessandro Butti (Fonderia Nebiolo, 1941).


Eran Ben Barak

Broadside designed, typeset and printed by Eran Ben Barak. The typeface at left is Estro by Aldo Novarese (Fonderia Nebiolo, 1961) and the typeface at right is an unknown Art Nouveau wood type.


Kelci Baughman McDowell

Broadside designed, typeset and printed by Kelci Baughman McDowell. The typeface is Etrusco Corsivo Nerissimo from Fonderia Nebiolo.


Hofi Benediktsdóttir

Broadside designed, typeset and printed by Hofi Benediktsdóttir.


Chiara Bergese

Broadside designed, typeset and printed by Chiara Bergese.


Shaqa Bovand

Broadside designed, typeset and printed by Shaqa Bovand. “IKS” is the Italian pronunciation of X; “VAI” is a substitute for Y.


Susan Fitzgerald

Broadside designed, typeset and printed by Susan Fitzgerald. The typeface is Eurostile Tonda Nera Larga by Aldo Novarese (Fonderia Nebiolo, 1962).


Jacob Ford

Broadside designed, typeset and printed by Jacob Ford. Note the signature.


Jen Thomas

Broadside designed, typeset and printed by Jen Thomas. The unidentified typeface is from the 1970s. Note the unusual Q.


Fred Wiltshire

Broadside designed, typeset and printed by Fred Wiltshire.


Note: I stitched together the broadside images from scans of folded copies. Consequently, they are not perfect. However, I hope they suffice to show the work the Legacy of Letters 2023 participants achieved in their brief time at the Tipoteca working with Peter Kruty and Sayre Gaydos. In typesetting and printing their broadsides they were assisted by Lucio Botteselle, Daniele Facchin, and Leonardo Facchin.