Legacy of Letters

Legacy of Letters was conceived in 1996 by Garrett Boge as an opportunity for calligraphers, lettercutters, typographers and anyone else passionate about letterforms to study the history of the Roman alphabet in its place of origin. The tour was inspired by the famous student tours of Rome and Florence led every other Spring by Prof. Michael Twyman and his colleagues in the Department of Typography and Graphic Communication at the University of Reading. Boge and I led tours of Rome from 1997 to 1999 and of Florence and Tuscany in 2000. In 2010 I revived Legacy of Letters with the help of Alta Price. The tour currently focuses on cities in the Veneto and Emilia-Romagna regions, but in the future it will expand to include other locations in Italy.

John Rissieeuw on Legacy of Letters

John Rissieeuw (Legacy of Letters 2015):
I found Legacy of Letters to be a bracing, whirlwind tour of historic sites important to letter history. Both the novice and the well-initiated will find delights and revelations in the many presentations of letterform, type, and printing. The burning need, generated by days of museum and library viewing, for hands-on printing and ink-on-fingers is satisfied with a four-day workshop at the Tipoteca. A true joy to those with type on the brain.
John …
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David Wolske on Legacy of Letters

David Wolske (Legacy of Letters 2013):
Legacy of Letters packs an MFA’s worth of typography into two weeks. Not a week goes by when I don’t think about my time at Tipoteca, Paul Shaw’s invigorating and illuminating walking tours, or the rare books and type specimens at the world-class libraries… not to mention the cappuccino and prosecco!
David Wolske and Tony Di Spigna looking at an incunabula book at the Fondazione Cini in Venice during Legacy of Letters 2013. Photograph by …
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Legacy of Letters 2023—Museo Bodoniano

The Pilotta complex in Parma which houses the Museo Bodoniano. Photograph by Lauren Huber 2012.
One of the highlights of Legacy of Letters 2023 will be a morning at the Museo Bodoniano in Parma. I first visited the museum in 1991. It was the first stop on my first trip to Italy. I bypassed Rome, Florence, and Venice and headed straight for Parma. I spent three days at the Museo Bodoniano. Although Angelo Ciavarella was the director at the time, …
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David Shields on Legacy of Letters

David Shields (Legacy of Letters 2012):
It is staggering to think this year is the 10th anniversary of my first Legacy of Letters trip! It was a marvelous way to see Italy, see letterforms in context, eat good food, and hang out with great people. I am surprised (though I suspect I shouldn’t be knowing Paul) by the impact that trip had on my thinking about typography and letterforms, and how much it changed the way I approach teaching typography …
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Judith Mayer on Legacy of Letters

Judith Mayer (Legacy of Letters 2013):
My Legacy of Letters experience was unforgettable—more than just an amazing tour around Italy, expertly led by Paul and Alta. I met many generous artists; visited printshops, libraries, a printing museum, and an inscription museum; viewed Bodoni artifacts, Giotto frescoes, castles, fountains, piazzas, and even a [Carlo] Scarpa cemetery. I experienced more than I can list here. Culminating with a collaborative printing project at the Tipoteca, there were also the unexpected joys of traveling …
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Lucia McCreery on Legacy of Letters

Lucia McCreery (Legacy of Letters 2010 and Legacy of Letters 2019):
These tours are not to be missed! The two I’ve been on were tremendously enriching and enjoyable. I would never have known about—let alone got to—most of those lettering and type shrines on my own, nor had such outstanding food and wine in primo Italian settings. The others on the tour were great people, and we could not have had a better leader than Paul Shaw.
Legacy of Letters …
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“oooo – ahhhh!”—An old sign that caught our eye

G. Facco Meccanica Agricola-Industriale. Alexander Trubin is standing at the right. Photograph by Paul Shaw 2012.
Detail of G. Facco sign. Photograph by paul Shaw 2012.
When Maureen sent me her memory of the 2012 Legacy of Letters tour with the anecdote about an old sign, I was unable to recall it. However, in searching through unlabeled photographs from the tour taken by Patricia Vining, I found some for a business called G. Facco Meccanica Agricola-Industriale. It seemed to be what …
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Maureen Hoffman on Legacy of Letters

Maureen Hoffman (Legacy of Letters 2012)

Such satisfaction to travel with companions that swoon equally over signage, typography, letterpress and the combinations thereof.
When I attended Legacy of Letters, we had a van, followed by a car, transporting all of us participants. Riding in the car through a little town in northern Italy, we all went “oooo – ahhhh!” at an old sign that caught our eye. “Darn. I wish we could have photographed that!”… Just up ahead, the van …
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Scholarships for Legacy of Letters 2023

In 2022 Mark Simonson Studio and Occupant Fonts sponsored scholarships for designers under the age of 30. I am pleased to announce that Legacy of Letters will be able to offer several scholarships again this year due to the generosity of both firms and additional pledges of funds from Typotheque, Type Together, Jeremy Tankard, and a private individual.
This year I have raised the qualifying age to 35 to accommodate the educational and professional disruptions caused …
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Legacy of Letters 2023—The Ambrosiana Library in Milano

Frontispiece from De bello Gallico by Julius Caesar (Biblioteca Ambrosiana MS A 243 inf).
On orientation day of Legacy of Letters 2023 there will be an option to visit the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milano. Lettering and type historian James Clough will join us. I asked James what is special about the Ambrosiana for type and lettering enthusiasts. He sent me these comments:
The Ambrosian Library
The Ambrosian Library (Biblioteca Ambrosiana) was founded by Cardinal Federico Borromeo in 1607. It is located …
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Legacy of Letters 2023—The Trivulziana Library in Milano

Detail of Divina Commedia by Dante Alighieri (1337) (Biblioteca Trivulziana Cod. 1080), Written out by Francesco di ser Nardo da Barberino in a “minuscola cancelleresca”.
In the afternoon of the first day of Legacy of Letters 2023 there will be an option to visit the Biblioteca Trivulziana in Milano with lettering and type historian James Clough as our guide. As with the Braidense, I asked James why the Trivulziana was important for type enthusiasts. He responded with this note:
The …
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Legacy of Letters 2023—The Braidense Library in Milano

Detail from All’Immortale Iperide Foceo broadside by Giambattista Bodoni (1781).*
In the morning of the first day of Legacy of Letters 2023 we will be visiting the Biblioteca Braidense in Milano with lettering and type historian James Clough as our guide. I asked James why the Braidense was important for type enthusiasts. He sent me this overview:

The Braidense library for type afficionados
During the eighteenth century Milan and the Lombardy and Veneto regions were under Austrian rule and in 1770 …
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Tipo Cibo Vino (Legacy of Letters 2022)—Part 14: The binding bee

We organized a binding bee in New York in order to complete the books that were printed at the Tipoteca during Legacy of Letters Tipo Cibo Vino 2022. The bee took place the weekend of December 3 and 4, 2022 at Peter Kruty Editions in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Erica Carras, Sonia Biancalani Levethan, Angelina Lippert, Claire Lukacs, Anita Merk, James Stroud, and Janine Wong joined Peter Kruty, Sayre Gaydos, and myself there. Sayre conceived the binding structure of the book …
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Tipo Cibo Vino (Legacy of Letters 2022)—Part 13: Departure Day

Luggage from the Legacy of Letters participants outside the Villa Bolzonello awaiting the van to the train station in Treviso and Aeroporto Marco Polo.

July 19, 2022 | Departure Day
With Cooking Day, Legacy of Letters Tipo Cibo Vino 2022 came to an end. Today everyone scattered, either to continue traveling in France and Italy; or back home to England, Canada, and the United States. But before that happened, James Stroud of Center Street Studio displayed the a–z portfolio of letters …
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Tipo Cibo Vino (Legacy of Letters 2022)—Part 12: Coda to Cooking Day

Patricia Childers, Anita Merk, and Peter Kruty chilling out on the porch at Villa Bolzonello after the activities of Cooking Day.

July 18, 2022 | The end of Cooking Day
The day did not end after we left Le Corderie. There was still dinner and then after that a show-and-tell session, the last group activity for Legacy of Letters Tipo Cibo Vino 2022.

Buon compleanno, Henri!
Buffet for dinner.
Henri-Paul Bronsard and Sonia Biancalani Leventhan eating dinner on the porch at Villa Bolzonello.
For dinner we …
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Tipo Cibo Vino (Legacy of Letters 2022)—Part 11: Letterpress Workshop Day 6 and Cooking Day

Chef Cristina Colle presenting panna cotta alle pesche.

July 18, 2022 | Day 6 of the Project
Peter Kruty, Sayre Gaydos, Patricia Childers, and Khoa Nguyen arrived at the Tipoteca early in the morning to work on the final elements of the pasta book. They were aided by Leonardo Facchin and Daniele Facchin. The cover still needed to be printed, sheets required trimming, type had to be redistributed, and the studio had to be cleaned up. I looked in on their progress …
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