Demonology & | witchcraft!!! | Printing: An online research session into the history of Philadelphia type foundries 1823–1844

Six Lines Gothic Condensed and Six Lines Gothic from Specimen of Printing Types and Ornaments by Rob & Ecklin, Letter Founders (Philadelphia: 1836). Image courtesy of RIT Libraries Digital Collections.
Letterforms Study Group via Zoom / Friday April 7 at 2 pm Eastern Daylight Time
fee $15

In this online type history research session I will retrace my recent research into the history of the Robb & Ecklin type foundry of Philadelphia, its partners Samuel Ecklin and Alexander Robb, and their relationship to …
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Mad, Bad (but Good to Know): A survey of type specimens offline and online

Sonoma Plaza (Bear Flag Republic) from Historia: A Type Specimen (Berkeley, California: Emigre Fonts, 2010), pp. 20–21. Design by Rudy VanderLans.
Mad, Bad (but Good to Know): A survey of type specimens offline and online
13 February 2023
This is a list of the type specimens included in my Type@Cooper talk. Those that have been digitized and available online are marked in red. Where multiple digitized versions of specimens exist I have chosen either the one with the best visual quality or one …
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Nachlass Jan Tschichold (Deutsche National Bibliothek Leipzig)

“Exhibition of new German Writing Art” (1920). Calligraphy by Johannes Tzschichhold [Jan Tschichold]. Image from Nachlass Jan Tschichold, Deutsche National Bibliothek Leipzig.
In October 2021 I stumbled on the digitized collection of Jan Tschichold’s work that was uploaded to the Deutsche National Bibliothek Leipzig website several months earlier. It is a remarkable collection. I was especially struck by finding a lot of Tschichold’s early calligraphic work, much of it in various forms of blackletter. That discovery led me to …
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The Swiss Grid exhibition at Poster House: A virtual tour

The Swiss Grid exhibition at Poster House, the new poster museum in New York, opened on February 27. Curator Angela Lippert had asked me to lead a tour of the exhibition for Type Directors Club members on March 23, but it  was cancelled Governor Cuomo imposed a lockdown on New York Stare, the week before in response to the coronavirus pandemic. As a substitute Angela and I semi-violated the lockdown on March 17. We met at the deserted …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 36—Knopf Colophons

Recently, I gave a talk at The Book Club of California titled Beyond the Spine: A Closer Look at the Book Designs of W.A. Dwiggins for Alfred A. Knopf. While preparing the talk a few months ago, Jennifer Sime, the executive director of the club, asked me if I could prepare an article on short notice for the club’s quarterly newsletter. I jumped at the offer because it gave me an opportunity to write in depth about the colophons in …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 24—Talks on Dwiggins

For the past fifteen years I have been giving talks on W.A. Dwiggins as a means of spreading the discoveries I have made about his life and career while my magnum opus remains in gestation. Below is a chronological list of the talks I have already given, including some in which Dwiggins is a player but not the main subject. They cover a wide range of topics since Dwiggins had a multi-faceted career. There are many other topics* that I …
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Poggio Bracciolini, an Inscription in Terranuova & the Monument to Carlo Marsuppini: A Theory

NOTE: This is the text of a short talk that I gave at the CAA Calligraphy/Epigraphy Session of the College Art Association 104th Annual Conference in Washington, DC on February 5, 2016. The session, officially entitled Forming Letters: New Research in Renaissance Calligraphy and Epigraphy, was chaired by Debra Pincus and included presentations by David Boffa, James Fishburne, Roberta Ricci, Philippa Sissis and myself with William Stenhouse as the respondent. Jonathan J.G. …
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Strathmore Papers and the Untold History of American Graphic Design

Recently Chris Harrold, Vice President of Business Development/Creative Director at Mohawk, invited me to up to the Albany/Troy area to see the Strathmore Archives that he has been digging into for the past few months. I was lured by the promise of seeing unknown work by W.A. Dwiggins and by the opportunity to do some preparation for my upcoming talk on “W.A. Dwiggins and the Promotion of Paper 1915–1935” at the Type Directors Club on June 3*.
For months both Dan Rhatigan …
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Designing with Letters in Chicago: the aftermath

January 16–17 · Indiana University / Bloomington, Indiana
My January trip to the Midwest began with a stop in Bloomington, Indiana to visit Paul Brown, Tom Walker and the Department of Art at Indiana University. Tom and Paul had invited me to do a one-day workshop on calligraphic tools. But first Tom took me to the Lilly Library to see manuscripts, incunabula and material accumulated by the Chicago engrosser Coella Ricketts. Tom and librarian Erika Dowell had ordered …
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Bastard Calligraphy: a workshop

I will be doing a workshop on bâtarde, otherwise known as bastarda, a calligraphic hand that emerged from medieval documents to become a formal style for Books of Hours in northern France, Burgundia and Flanders in the second half of the 15th century. The class will take place over the course of two consecutive Sundays, April 28 and May 5, and is being sponsored by the Society of Scribes, Ltd., the calligraphic society in the New York City metropolitan region. …
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Designing with Letters

In January I will be traveling to the Midwest to teach, first in Bloomington, Indiana and then in Chicago. The workshop at the School of Fine Arts, Indiana University, organized by Paul Brown and Tom Walker, is not yet determined. However, the workshops in Chicago have already been announced. They will both be on the topic of Designing with Letters. The Society of Typographic Arts, in conjunction with the School of Media Arts, Columbia College Chicago, is hosting a one-day …
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APHA Conference 2012 Talk

Inland Printer (July 1901). Cover design by Frederic W. Goudy (border and masthead) and W.A. Dwiggins (illustration)
At the Crossroads: Living Letterform Traditions
2012 American Printing History Conference
Columbia College Chicago, Center for Book and Paper Arts
October 12–13, 2012
I will be speaking at this year’s APHA Conference in Chicago (as part of Panel One between 9:45 am and 11 am on Saturday, October 13) on “The Roots of the Big Three: Goudy, Cooper, Dwiggins and the Frank Holme School of Illustration”. My talk is only …
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Gorey, Huerta and Di Spigna

For New York lettering enthusiasts or those who will be visiting the city this summer there are two unheralded exhibitions that are a must-see. The first is “Gorey Preserved” at Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library (Butler Library, 6th floor, 114th Street and Broadway). It is on display until July 27. The other is “The Tony & Gerry Show” at Pratt Manhattan, GradComD Exhibition Space (144 West 14th Street, 7th floor). It ends August 9.Edward Gorey …
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Type Americana 2

Type Americana 2, a conference devoted to the history of American type design, will take place May 4–6 at the School of Visual Concepts in Seattle, Washington. It will include talks by Paul F. Gehl, Custodian of the John M. Wing Foundation at the Newberry Library, on Robert Hunter Middleton and Douglas McMurtrie, two of the key figures behind the type design program at Ludlow Typograph; Cathleen A. Baker on the Roycroft career of papermaker and paper historian …
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Helvetica and the New York City Subway System in New Paltz

At the invitation of Aleanna Lüthi-Garrecht, Arthur Hoener and Amy Papaelias, professors in the Art Department at SUNY New Paltz, I was invited to speak to their design students on Helvetica and the New York City Subway System on March 7.
Poster design by Aleanna Lüthi-Garrecht
The invitation gave me a great excuse not only to see an old friend (Aleanna and I met on one of the Legacy of Letters tours of Rome in the late 1990s), but …
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AIGA Chicago: Helvetica and the New York City Subway System

AIGA Chicago presents Designer as Author
Helvetica and the New York City Subway System: a talk and book signing
Paul Shaw
Getty Images
122 South Michigan Avenue, Suite 900
Wednesday, November 16
Registration 6–6:30 pm; Presentation and book signing 6:30–8:30 pm
AIGA Chicago is pleased to present Paul Shaw in our next installment of Designer as Author, an ongoing series devoted to discussing written works with the designer-authors who create them.
The story of signage on the New York City Subway System is both a long and …
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