Detail of cast stone sign for “Dairy Supply Company Limited”, Coptic Street, London (1888).

Rubbing of letters from tombstone of Elisabeth Stoute (d. 1764), Trinity Church cemetery (New York City). Carved by Uzal Ward.

Detail of doorway sign for Ninth & Broadway Building (1929) in downtown Los Angeles. Designed by Claud Beelman.

Detail from a cutting from a 15th c. Italian chorale, a large manuscript intended for use by a choir. The script is Rotunda, a rounded form of blackletter mostly found in Italy and Spain. The music notes are square and rhombic.

Detail of an inscription (c. 1462) on the facade of S. Anastasia in Verona.

Neon sign for Crown Caterers Deli Restaurant in the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn. The sign dates from the 1930s or 1940s.

Tombstone of Stefano Giuseppe Brion (d.1906) in the Cimiterio Brion-Vega, San Vito d’Altivole, Italy. Designed by Carlo Scarpa (1970–1972). The name is hidden in the “keys”.

Tours & Events

Tours & Events lists all lettering walks, Legacy of Letters tours, public lectures, talks, panel discussions, workshops, calligraphic demonstrations, etc. that I am engaged in.

Type Specimens, Type Specimen and More Type Specimens—Letterforms Study Group in San Francisco August 21–23, 2023

There are still places available for these inexpensive special study sessions about type specimens led by Paul Shaw. Registration ends August 18. Scroll to the bottom for prices and payment options.
Page from a specimen of Grobe Kabel Kursiv by Rudolf Koch (Gebr. Klingspor 1930) reproduced in Type. A Visual History of Typefaces & Graphic Styles vol. 2 edited by Cees W. de Jong, Alston W. Purvis and Jan Tholenaar (Köln: Taschen, 2010).
About Type Specimens
At first glance type specimens are innocuous …
Continue reading

Letterforms Study Group in San Francisco—A Type and Type Specimen Trifecta August 21–23, 2023

The Letterforms Study Group is coming to San Francisco this summer. From August 21 to August 23, 2023 I will host three study sessions focused on type specimens. These are not lectures. They are participatory, collaborative investigations of physical items (books, periodicals, broadsides, etc.) which are linked thematically. My role in these events is to act as a facilitator and an informed guide rather than as an all-knowing authority.
Participants do not need to have prior familiarity with type design or …
Continue reading

Calligraphy & Letterpress Workshop with Grendl Löfkvist August 26, 2023

Participants cutting out their stencils during the Blackletter without Blackletter workshop at the 2019 Hamilton Wayzgoose.
Grendl Löfkvist and Paul Shaw will lead another calligraphy & letterpress workshop on August 26 at the CODEX Foundation in Berkeley, California. They have done two combination calligraphy/letterpress workshops before: Neuland at the 2019 Hamilton Wayzgoose and Rudolf Koch’s blackletter via Zoom during the Covid-19 pandemic as part of the 2020 Hamilton Awayzgoose.
Blackletter by F.H.E. Schneidler’s students (n.d.). Image courtesy of the Letterform …
Continue reading

GoFundMe—Legacy of Letters 2023Letterpress Extravaganza

Go Fund Me—Legacy of Letters Letterpress Extravaganza
Chiara Bergese
In early April tried to set up the GoFundMe account to raise funds to enable both Shaqa Bovand and Chiara Bergese  a student in the Communication Design department at the Politecnico di Milano, Italy, to join Legacy of Letters 2023. The vetting process at GoFundMe was so slow and repetitive that I decided to crowdfund both women via email and my website. The effort quickly raised enough money ($3500) for one woman and …
Continue reading

The Enduring Fascination of Bartolomeo Sanvito Renaissance Scribe—A Zoom talk 7 June 2023

The Enduring Fascination of Bartolomeo Sanvito, Renaissance Scribe
Wednesday, June 7, 2023 at 10 am PDT / 1 pm EDT
A free on-line talk via Zoom sponsored by the Friends of Calligraphy.
Caius Julius Caesar, Commentari de bello Gallico et civile c.1464–1466 (Biblioteca Ambrosiana A 243 inf, f. 10). Written out by Bartolomeo Sanvito.
Bartolomeo Sanvito
Bartolomeo Sanvito was born in Padua in 1433. He was trained in gothic cursive and his earliest dated italic script is from mid-1454. His first known work, a copy …
Continue reading

Grolier Club talk—The Greatest Type Specimen Ever Made: The 1882 Bruce Foundry specimen

p. 39 from Specimens of Printing Types Made at Bruce’s New-York Type-Foundry (New York: George Bruce’s Son & Co., Type-Founders, 1882).
…probably the largest, most complete and finest typographical specimen book ever produced.—La Cygne Journal (La Cygne, Kansas) April 29, 1882
Specimens of Printing Types Made at Bruce’s New-York Type-Foundry (New York: George Bruce’s Son & Co., Type-Founders, 1882)
Although it is neither the most colorful nor the most visually sumptuous type specimen, the 1882 Bruce type foundry specimen is arguably the …
Continue reading

Laura Thoms on Legacy of Letters 2022

Laura Thoms setting type during the Legacy of Letters 2022 letterpress workshop. Photograph by Paul Shaw.
Laura Thoms (Legacy of Letters 2019 and 2022*)
June 14, 2022:
Thank you for your hard work in putting such a fantastic trip together.
July 25, 2022
Thank you so much for coordinating such a beautiful adventure.

Legacy of Letters 2023 will take place from June 29 to July 12, 2023. It will include stops in Milano, Torino, Alpignano, Casteggio, Parma, Modena, Venice, and Cornuda. We will visit …
Continue reading

Letterforms Study Group—Fifth session 22 March 2023: Trademarks and Logos

Edgewood Furniture print with logo (1959). Design by Chermayeff & Geismar. Image courtesy of Milton Glaser Design Study Center and Archives at the School of Visual Arts.
From left to right: Beth Kleber, Paul Shaw, Greg D’Onofrio, Marcos Baer, K.C. Witherell (obscured), Chavelli Tsui, Tom Geismar, Carmile Zaino (obscured), Liz DeLuna, Barbara Cadorna, Rebecca Lehman Sprouse, and Claire Lukacs. (On the wall at the left are a series of small posters designed by Milton Glaser in the 1960s for SVA.) Photograph …
Continue reading

Maureen Hoffmann Exhibition—Italian Stone: Artist’s Muse

Maureen Hoffmann (Legacy of Letters 2012) has an exhibition hosted by the Burien Arts Association at the Highline Heritage Museum in Burien, Washington (near Seattle) from May 4 to June 30, 2023. She says this of the exhibition: “Merging my multiple loves for expression, I have pulled from my 15 years of travel and 60,000 photos in Italy, and combined them with graphic overlays for one-of-a-kind monoprints. Milan, Florence, Venice… Monuments and cobblestones… Manuscripts and textiles… These are a few …
Continue reading

Dafi Kühne: Letterpress Posters Reinvented

WTF? poster (2021 version of a 2014 poster). Copyright Dafi Kühne.
Dafi Kühne, in conversation with Poster House curator Angelina Lippert, will present his work, share his approach to Swiss Typography, and give insights into his fascinating production process. Together they will discuss several contemporary questions such as: Do printed posters in a time of digital displays in urban spaces still make sense? And why should posters be produced at great expense using the antiquated letterpress printing process when digital printing …
Continue reading

Meet the first Legacy of Letters 2023 Crowdfunded Scholarship Winner

Shaqa Bovand
Arabic typeface by Shaqa Bovand.
Shaqa Bovand from Iran, a student in the MA Typeface Design program at the University of Reading, is our fifth scholarship participant. She was supported by donations (ranging in size from $25 to $500) from 31 individuals and two couples via an informal crowdfunding campaign. Both Shaqa and I wish to publicly thank those donors (in alphabetical order) for their financial assistance*:
Henri-Paul Bronsard
Paul Carlos
Graham Clifford
Moira Collins
Ben and Ellen Erdreich
Behdad Esfahbod
Glenn Fleishman
Linda Florio
Davide Fornari
David …
Continue reading

Crowdfunding Chiara Bergese for Legacy of Letters 2023—Update June 1, 2023

This will be the last Legacy of Letters tour and workshop for the foreseeable future! I would like to fill the last available place on the tour with an unfunded applicant for the Legacy of Letters 2023 scholarships. There were 18 applicants for the four sponsored scholarships, a dozen of whom had excellent portfolios. Among them was Chiara Bergese, a student in the Communication Design department at the Politecnico di Milano, Italy. She missed the cut-off in the cumulative …
Continue reading

From Depero to Rotella: Italian commercial posters between advertising and art—an exhibition at the Center for Italian Modern Art

View of the exhibition From Depero to Rotella at the Center for Italian Modern Art (CIMA).
At the kind invitation of curator Nicola Lucchi, I will be doing a tour on April 28 of the exhibition From Depero to Rotella: Italian commercial posters between advertising and art, that is currently on display at the Center for Italian Modern Art (CIMA) in New York. The exhibition, which focuses on Italian posters from the 1920s to the 1970s, includes a number …
Continue reading

Erica Carras on Legacy of Letters

Erica Carras (Legacy of Letters 2022):
If you are a fan of spending time in libraries, looking at old books and typography, you are in for a treat! We went to some stunning collections with unique curated selections. It was spectacular! Even if you don’t enjoy typography, you can easily be amused. Also, it’s Italy. You get to enjoy great food and wine!”
Erica Carras setting type during the Legacy of Letters 2019 letterpress workshop. Photograph by Paul Shaw.

Legacy of …
Continue reading

Archivio Nebiolo—A short conversation with Alessandro Colizzi

Cover of Ditta Nebiolo & Comp. catalogue (1895). Image courtesy of Taschen.
Paul: Why is Fonderia Nebiolo important? Can you summarize the company’s origins and place in the Italian graphic design/printing world?
Alessandro: The Nebiolo company of Torino was Italy’s great type foundry on both a national and international level for most of the twentieth century—until its closure in 1978. The company was originally established as a type foundry by Giovanni Nebiolo in 1878. The business grew steadily in the following decades …
Continue reading

Claire Lukacs on Legacy of Letters

Claire Lukacs (Legacy of Letters 2019 and Legacy of Letters 2022):
The two times that I have attended Legacy of Letters have literally been a visual feast. If you have any interest in the history of type, you won’t be disappointed. And the workshop part is so enjoyable with Peter and Sayre and the crew from Tipoteca. Not to mention, Italy and the food…
Claire Lukacs tying up type during the Legacy of Letters 2019 letterpress workshop. Photograph by Paul Shaw.

Continue reading