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A Visit to the Meister Museum in Amsterdam

Karina Meister at the door to the Meister Museum. Photograph by Paul Shaw (2006).
The Meister Museum: A Very Private Wunderkammer
I have known Karina Meister, a calligrapher/graphic designer/artist in Amsterdam, for nearly forty years. We first met in 1983 when she was living in the Kinkerbuurt neighborhood of the city, not far from the Vondelpark. In 1991 she moved to her present apartment in the Transvaalbuurt neighborhood. I don’t remember her first apartment very well, but her second one has fascinated …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 93—Laurance B. Siegfried

Laurance B. Siegfried was a first cousin of W.A. Dwiggins on his mother’s side. He was born February 18, 1892 in Montclair, New Jersey to Addison H. and Mary (née Hetrick) Siegfried. Laurance was the youngest—by over a decade and a half—of three children, the other two being Mary (born 1869) and Frederick (born 1876). A little over two years later, on April 17, 1894, his mother died. [1] Seventeen months to the day after that his father died …
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By the Numbers no. 2—Fat Faces in New England Cemeteries

This second installment of By the Numbers is devoted to examples of Fat Faces found on gravestones in cemeteries in Massachusetts and Maine. Fat Faces are neoclassical (didone) types in which the thick strokes have been made even heavier while the thin ones remain thin. They first appeared in England at the beginning of the 19th century. [1] Aimed at advertising and commercial printing, rather than book printing, they quickly spread to other countries, including the United States. Here are …
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Paper Is Part of the Picture no. 15—Strathmore Artists’ Series (1923)

This is one in a series of blog posts accompanying Paper Is Part of the Picture: Strathmore Paper and the Evolution of American Graphic Design 1892–2017, an exhibition that I have curated at The Opalka Gallery of The Sage Colleges in Albany, New York. The exhibition runs from October 3 to December 15, 2017.
4 Men & Strathmore envelope (1923). Design by Oswald Cooper. Photograph by Annie Schlechter.
The third (and last) of the Strathmore Artists’ Series was mailed out in …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 29 addendum—Where’s Oz?

After reading paragraphs 122 and 123 regarding the instructions for enumerators of the Twelfth United States census (1900), I decided to see if I could find another instance of someone counted twice. I had in mind Oswald Cooper (1879–1940), designer of the famous (or, depending on your view, notorious) Cooper Black , who had studied at the Frank Holme School of Illustration at the same time that Dwiggins did. Researching his life and work has—like that of Goudy, Updike, Cleland …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 3 addendum—Who was Charles Fulton Whitmarsh?

In The Definitive Dwiggins no. 3 post I included one (possibly two) uncredited designs by W.A. Dwiggins reproduced on a page of “trade-marks” from Applied Art by Pedro J. Lemos (1920), a book I stumbled across earlier this year while in the Bay Area to do research at the Letterform Archive. But I found the book while rummaging around at Black Oak Books in Berkeley with Stephen Coles. The title caught my eye as I am constantly trying …
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Addendum to Thoughts on Letterform Nomenclature

Ed Benguiat just let me know that his terminology chart is online at americanliteracy.com. There is a complete scan of Life with Letters as They Turned Photogenic by Edward Rondthaler (New York: Photo-Lettering, Inc., 1981). If you scroll to p. 183 you can find Ed’s chart. It is rotated, much reduced and lacking the subtle color of the original poster, but it is still legible—and thus functional. Thanks, Ed.

The Rchive no. 14—Superior Florists

Superior Florists (Manhattan). Photograph by Paul Shaw (2005).
Superior Florists, established in 1930, is one of the remaining floral and plant businesses in what used to be the thriving Flower District along Sixth Avenue south of Herald Square in Manhattan. The neon sign (script for “Superior” and sans for “Florist”) is dated to 1951 by Tom Rinaldi, author of New York Neon.

“Grab life by the typographic tail!”

There is still time to sign up for the 2013 Legacy of Letters Tour & Workshop at the early bird discounted price. Join Alta Price and me in Italy this summer and see how much fun you can have with letters. It is the experience of a lifetime.
Paul Shaw 
Alexander practicing Cyrillic calligraphy.
“This ten-day immersion in the world of Latin letterforms, in their native environment, was an unforgettable experience. It was such an amazing time, filled with lots of …
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Blue Pencil no. 25—A last word on About More Alphabets

Jerry Kelly has emailed me (12 December 2012) with a response to Blue Pencil no. 24 but also with a request not to post his comments. Although I will honor his request not to quote him or his email I will respond to two of his assertions. First, he claims that Comenius Antiqua had oldstyle figures and suggests I look at the Berthold Exklusiv specimen. Although I am not sure which specimen from Berthold he has in mind, my copy …
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Blue Pencil no. 24—Jerry Kelly response to Blue Pencil no. 23

Jerry Kelly has emailed me about Blue Pencil no. 24. Here is his commentary with my responses.

While it was good to see Paul Shaw acknowledge that “Kelly is right,” “Kelly is absolutely right,” “Kelly is making a subtle but important distinction,” “mea [Shaw] culpa,”; etc., about many errors I pointed out in his review of “About More Alphabets,” I’m afraid that his response to me introduced yet more errors.

[I did acknowledge errors in Blue Pencil no. 23 but three times …
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Blue Pencil no. 20—Zapfiana no. 1 update

David Lemon, Senior Manager, Type Development at Adobe, has given me the background on the digital version of Wilhelm Klingsporschrift in the Adobe Type Library:
For better or (mostly) worse, the ‘Adobe’ version was developed by Linotype under our joint Type 1 font development program. They concluded that Americans wouldn’t buy blackletter fonts with traditional forms for some of the characters (perhaps Goudy’s blackletters scared them), so they ‘modernized’ the forms to broaden market appeal. I argued for leaving the traditional …
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Blue Pencil no. 22—Zapfiana no. 3: Works and Typefaces

The publication of About More Alphabets by Jerry Kelly spurred me to create this third Zapfiana post which lists books by and about Hermann Zapf and typefaces by him (as well as pirated copies by others). The latter is, unfortunately, incomplete as gathering information on them has been very difficult. But it is a task that needs to be done.
Last updated 13 December 2012.
This is a list of the most important texts by and about Hermann Zapf arranged in chronological …
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Blue Pencil no. 20—Zapfiana no. 1: About More Alphabets

Title page spread, About More Alphabets (2011). Typography by Jerry Kelly.
About More Alphabets
Jerry Kelly and Robert Bringhurst
Rochester: The Typophiles and RIT Cary Graphic Arts Press, 2011
Typophile Chap Book New Series no. 3
112 pp.
4.5 x 7 in.
[updated 7 December 2012 to reflect corrections pointed out by Jerry Kelly]
Hermann Zapf (b. 1918), widely considered to be one of the preeminent type designers of the 20th century, has continued to design new typefaces and revise earlier ones in the 21st century. His career …
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The Story behind The Swedish Modern Set: Stockholm, Göteborg and Uppsala

This post was sparked by a Twitter message from @lettersfromswe asking about information on my typeface Göteborg. Here is an account of how the Swedish Modern Set of typefaces (Stockholm, Göteborg and Uppsala) came to be and the obstacles and misunderstandings along the way.
Initial sketches for the Swedish Modern Set (November 1997).
During the 1997 ATypI conference in Reading, England Allan Haley, then working for Agfa/Creative Alliance, asked me for some ideas for new font designs. I suggested that someone look to modern …
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Who’s Who in American Art

Who’s Who in American Art 2013 (33rd edition), published by Marquis Who’s Who, has once again included me in its roster of “foremost achievers in America’s art community.” I am not sure how significant an honor this is, given that I am a designer and not an artist.  Perhaps it indicates that designers are being taken as seriously as fine artists. If so, it is a good thing not just for me but …
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