Wordmarks from a private stock of predigital lettering scoured from low resolution archives, personally converted to bezier outlines by Robb for use by today’s graphic designers who appreciate the wonky shapes of yesteryear.
These are not fonts, sorry.

This is not the fine shaping and tracery of manuscript monks, it’s a lively imitation emboldened by late 20s Modernity. Some Good Women raced motorcycles rather than threw themselves upon swords like sad Lucretia. The lettering’s bulbous and unusually top heavy in the rounds, a telling trait I’ve not seen in any related historical samples. The flexure in the stems is so extreme, the practically disconnected thin to thick strokes in the horizontals. Thin serifs probe their neighbor’s letter space like antenna, not content to keep to themselves. The penmanship is choice and unstable, especially the opener’s “HE” ligatures. They are conjoined letters, product of a genetic tendency to merge and disregard harmony, not a considered deft calligraphic blended pair. Weeble wobble drunktank serifs I love you. Style beats history.

Download

Creative Commons, etc…

All © and ™ 1928 Hugh Chesterman and Shakespeare Head Press?

Posted at 11:00am and tagged with: lettering, 1920s, book, serif, Pen-based,.

C. B. (Charles Buckles) Falls did archly good and illegible things to letters in the early 1900s. While his sober and touching wartime Victory posters for the US Military and colorful children’s ABC books are most known, this psychogothidelic approach to calligraphy demands notice. It seems when limited to black and white, Falls indulged in something a little wicked. His attempts to merge swooping Hokusai-style Eastern graphics with Western decorative manuscript tradition is hardly smooth, but exciting. Lots of thrust and oomph in the swash cap and “h” flyaway distract from how little information and control was penned into the remainder of the characters. Such new careless shapes are more interesting. Little arrowhead punches for feet. Swash curves veer too close to stem structures or misjudge their crossovers, kinking out of synch with bad timing.

Download

Creative Commons, etc…

All © and ™ 1908 C. B. Falls and Everybody’s Magazine?

Posted at 3:06pm and tagged with: 1900s, lettering, swash, blackletter, magazine,.

Happy Valentine’s Day, through the medium of interpretative serif lettering. Illustrator Joyce Mercer’s inspired angular take on capitals is tricky but consistent across her many Hans Christian Andersen story titles. The connecting diagonal crossbars have little typographic precedent, but work stacked alongside fairy tale thorn bushes and spinous architecture. Much was nudged in digitization, weight ratios aren’t as erratic (look at the “T” top serifs), and the smudgily dented “E” crossbar is pounded out for better ventilation. The exercise ignored all curves, for no decent reason. The original pen work was nicely clipped, it seemed fitting. Image swiped from finsbry.

Download

Creative Commons, etc…

All © and ™ 1920 Joyce Mercer?

Posted at 3:08pm and tagged with: lettering, book, serif, 1920s, caps, wedge,.

That “T” and “h” combination looks like it was made by auto people, described to shaky-handed engineers without consulting the art department, because they would flounce it up with something unnecessary. It could have been messily calligraphic but the stand-in artist stuck to pen (notice the blobbed weight at the joins) so it appears routed or etched. Linear metallic processes, barely arty. It’s a formal invitation. Shallow dips and mostly parallel lengths, calligraphic end strokes follow the logic of running boards and door seams, lots of machine replicable grid lines which have to incorporate the nuisance of wheels. The embellishment in the connecting stroke between the “he” has a lovely upswing to balance out the sweeping motion in the “T” bar and “h” ascender, as above so below. After the engineer must have labored over the first three letters, they handed it back to the artist to finish “The Motor Carriage of Perfect Comfort,” who went swash happy and gave up on proportioned restraint. Image swiped from Mikeyashworth.

Download

Creative Commons, etc…

All © and ™ 1924 Armstrong Siddeley Motors Ltd?

Posted at 11:24am and tagged with: lettering, script, connecting, monoline, 1920s, ad,.

Imagining “interstellar” tourism in letterform. That “Space” single story “a” is a poddy little delight. Round structures work beyond our atmosphere where there is no drag and a leisurely cruise pace can be enjoyed peering out portholes. The lettering might add a familiar touch of broad-nibbed first class place settings but it certainly would not have been my first guess of how a 1950s cover artist would interpret a 1920s idea of space travel. A trinket of print wear or scanning defaced the barest nubbin of growth onto the “T” entry stroke. Science fiction has taught me space is filled with parasitic creatures which hide until outgrowing the host in the second act, causing everything to fall apart. This artifact was kept in the digitization, a decorative spur, the prettiest little space potato eye. It is just starting to germinate. The Skylark club room’s oak-lined lettering walls may be infested… Image swiped from Golden Age Comic Book Stories.

Download

Creative Commons, etc…

All © and ™ 1950 FFF and Frank R Paul?

Posted at 5:42pm and tagged with: lettering, 1950s, script, Pen-based,.

Start strong. Fumble the middle bit. End strong. Few notice. The rush to isolate that clamorous “The” is over, an uncomfortable contemplation of logic governing these letters is all that’s left. The remainder of this perfumey script is a difficult blend of typographic and calligraphic attepmts. It’s built on the familiarity of Bernhard and contemporary’s Deco advertising type work but had 30ish years’ time to  get muddy with nostalgia and lettering laziness. It is 1960 though you would never know it by the illustration, and maybe that’s the point. Start strong, “The” has fiery conviction, swash upon big capital thrusting swash. Fumbling the middle bit, the calligraphy attitude stops, entering a state of stylized Modern-ish italic implying a formal script but abandoning the genre’s customary connecting strokes. The strategy is forgiving in metal type, no fiddly bits to get mangled and ruin the illusion. Open letterspacing like this gets (more) permissive, no stray entry and exit hairlines looking like unfinished statements halting the effortless grace of a script to a stutter. Then some typographic hair extension descenders were clipped into place. Long strictly straight strokes retain little of “The”’s joy. They look, sadly, one size fits all. End strong, the script-like italic finds its voice. Characters such as the “f”s receive due “The”-like flourishes rather than the baseline blunted stroke used for “of.” Image swiped from mikeyashworth.

Download

Creative Commons, etc…

All © and ™ 1960 The Metropolitan Borough of Stepney or Tower Hamlets?

Posted at 9:07am and tagged with: 1960s, script, swash, lettering, ad, italic,.

As a formal exercise, it is interesting to push stress a particular direction. Out of comfort into out-of-whack. Weight emerges in the stacked text, as if washed out from dramatic foot lighting. Skinny feet broadening into wide shoulders. The “G”s break the trend and will be ignored. What’s interesting is the useful way the gentle increase  builds horizontally letter by letter to add emphasis within the stacked and justified text, it takes a very strict and confining method of arranging headlines and offers movement. The stack turns segmented and ethereal rather than industrially still, able to bare heavy loads. Smokey. Wafty. That episodic shift in upward stress always resets at the harshest contrast (baseline to cap height). New line, new event. Extracted from the layout, “The” looks goofy to contemporary eyes. Looming letters now belong to retro-minded fright night flicks or the jumpy cartoons which need type to match animated contortion. Outside of the block, they look extreme. Bradley’s high contrast art makes the lettering less extreme given all the competition and pattern in the background. I’m guessing the magazine is about cooking? It was published by a stove and ranges company which only lasted for a few years. Maybe the blew their budget on Bradley, 1896 was the final year.

Download

Creative Commons, etc…

All © and ™ 1896 William Bradley and Garland Magazine? 

Posted at 11:59pm and tagged with: lettering, magazine, sans, 1890s,.

It looks like a lettering exercise. Here is a Speedball B knibbed pen, you have quite a little bit of space to between the Dell logo and “ONE.” Give us a “The.” You have two minutes. [Dip. Scritch. Scratch. Swoop. Done.] Hasty and instinctual and tight, all of which is fitting. The cramped squirm of the “h” writhes like the pinned man in sad yellow socks, all the more humane for its discomfort next to solid, inevitable crime block gothics. Victimlettering. Swiped from UK Vintage.

Download

Creative Commons, etc…

All © and ™ 1949 Dell and Helen McCloy?

Posted at 9:26am and tagged with: lettering, book, script, monoline, 1940s,.

An adventure that will blaze… A love that will flame… ‘Till the stars grow cold… is illustrated as a strident horse-and-camel epic ranging from the UK to a plate tectonically confused Euraisafrica. Impetuous adventure. Brush lettering is flared for the swashbuckling men in turbans, some condensed romans dance for western blondes in red heels. Here, multiple layered brush strokes were required to build up weight but leave tell tale hillocks at overlaps, artifacts which betray the hand of the letterer. I decided to exaggerate them and regulate the quirks into features. Certain of the digitization’s traditionally flat(ish) bases’ stroke ends now have arcing shapes emerging from the severed ends. The “h” ascender deserves a logical corner joining two true trajectories. A respectable point, perhaps just a little blunted from the brush’s glob of ink. Instead, the sure shot is interrupted by a spear point jutting northeast. This is no longer a mistake of naturally occurring doubled strokes with performance enhancement but a new shape emerging from within, or overlapping the silhouette? Where the emergent shapes are potentially violent in the flats, bladed, the curved strokes were also emphasized with cushioning bloats in the “T” top swash and “e” round. Sharp and soft. Adventure and love. Conquest and comfort.

Download

Creative Commons, etc…

All © and ™ 1950 20th Century Fox?

Posted at 5:12pm and tagged with: movie, lettering, brush, 1950s, poster,.

“Decorations by W Aylward” is honest. “Decoration” is a term rarely used today given the serious emphasis attributed to DESIGN and the puffed-chest academic shamanism it takes to wield it. Honesty is refreshing. It’s only a poem, with illustrations and fancier titles than normal. Scribner’s Magazine dealt high definition entertainment in 1913, it was America’s first mass market rag to include COLOR illustrations (1887). Leading talent was commissioned to dazzle audiences. Lettered decorations along The Way to Inde pass through heat distortion, fluttering romances, shimmering confusion, and other trespasses. So, which South Asian script is this lettering approximating? Probably all of them, pulled from Aylward’s recollections of people in overheated environments with wavy flags and symbols which looped in and out of themselves breaking Latin logic. The horizontal stroke topping the “W” is a little Lombardic and excusably close for a seafaring Wisconsonian referencing linear connections in Devanagari or Bengali, but has little relation to the other typographic conventions on his page. The Way to Inde is mapless, adrift, and beset with guesswork. It picked up a backswooping “d” from some colony using early engraved French type. This confusion, or playfulness, is why I love it. Freed and odd. The strange beast has interesting contrasts, strong verticals in stems with rigidly bored (drilled) counters, like they’ve been tunneled into. Antfarm negative space? A lot of the action here is in the small shapes. The minimal counters, small gestures amplified by so much surrounding black, movement implied by inky little feet kicking out exit strokes (“h” up, “e” down), while partnering stems suction tight to the baseline. The lumpiness of the brush and ink curdles where multiple overlapping strokes define a curve. Inked with oatmeal. I stopped while debating how much bump and melt to apply to the “h” ascender serif-blob, questioning whether or not this could be approached as an eastern cousin to Cooper Black, and it seemed like a terrible idea.

Download

Creative commons, etc…

©1913 and ™ W. J. Aylward and Scribner’s Magazine?

Posted at 10:57am and tagged with: lettering, script, brush, 1910s, magazine,.