Handwritten letters of note

There is just something about handwritten correspondence that connects you to the writer unlike any other medium. Take a look at these examples from well known personalities, spanning several centuries…

Shaun Usher, a freelance copywriter from Manchester, England, runs Letters of Notean attempt to gather and sort fascinating letters, postcards, telegrams, faxes, and memos. There are over 600 examples of this old fashioned correspondence in his growing online collection.

What I find myself most drawn to, are the handwritten artefacts, maybe because putting pen to paper is such a rarity in our digital world. Or maybe it is the way a handwritten note is able to connect us to a particular place and time in the writer’s life unlike any other medium.

Here are a few examples from well known personalities, spanning several centuries. Click the image to go to the relevant page on Letters of Note to read transcripts and find out more:

1973. Freddy Mercury to Jac Holzman, founder of their U.S. label, Elektra Records:

Letters of note: Freddie Mercury

1610. Galileo Galilei to Leonardo Donato, Prince of Venice:

Letters of note: Galileo Galilei

1995. Henry Rollins to a rude, disappointed fan:

Letters of note: Henry Rollins

1954. James Dean to on-off girlfriend Barbara Glenn:

Letters of note: James Dean

1817. Jane Austen to her eight-year-old niece (each word written backwards):

Letters of note: Jane Austen

Jimi Hendrix to a girlfriend:

Letters of note: Jimi Hendrix

1997. Joe Strummer to Mark Hagen on Bruce Springsteen:

Letters of note: Joe Strummer

1996. John Lydon (Sex Pistols) to the U.S. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on their inclusion:

Letters of note: John Lydon

Johnny Cash’s to-do list:

Letters of note: Johnny Cash

1993. Kurt Cobain to MTV (unsent):

Letters of note: Kurt Cobain

1916. Get-well-soon note from Pablo Picasso to Jean Cocteau:

Letters of note: Pablo Picasso

1983. Steven Spielberg to Forrest Ackerman:

Letters of note: Steven Spielberg

1924. Walt Disney to Ub Iwerks:

Letters of note: Walt Disney

1972. Bob Dylan to U. S. Immigration and Naturalization Service in support of John Lennon and Yoko Ono:

Letters of note: Bob Dylan

1745. Controversial letter from Benjamin Franklin to a friend regarding “older mistresses”:

Letters of note: Benjamin Franklin

1955. A seemingly sarcastic letter from Ernest Hemingway to “Mr. Lord” of Morgan Guaranty Trust Company:

Letters of note: Ernest Hemingway

Shaun is planning on turning this collection into a large coffee-table volume of 400 pages, with 200 letters, each with an introduction and a transcript of the text. Find out more and pledge your support for the project at Unbound Books.

Fantastic, strange, incredible, super, amazing comic book mastheads!

John Hilgart calls himself a curator of lost items. Among his assortment of finds, is SUPERTYPE! – a collection of high res vintage comic book mastheads to marvel at…

John Hilgart calls himself a curator of lost items. Among his assortment of finds, is  SUPERTYPE! – a collection of high res vintage comic book mastheads to marvel at. Most of these date back to the 1960s and 1970s, aka the Silver Age of comics. Here are a few examples:

SUPERTYPE! Comic Book Mastheads

SUPERTYPE! Comic Book Mastheads

SUPERTYPE! Comic Book Mastheads

SUPERTYPE! Comic Book Mastheads

SUPERTYPE! Comic Book Mastheads

SUPERTYPE! Comic Book Mastheads

SUPERTYPE! Comic Book Mastheads

SUPERTYPE! Comic Book Mastheads

SUPERTYPE! Comic Book Mastheads

SUPERTYPE! Comic Book Mastheads

SUPERTYPE! Comic Book Mastheads

SUPERTYPE! Comic Book Mastheads

SUPERTYPE! Comic Book Mastheads

SUPERTYPE! Comic Book Mastheads

SUPERTYPE! Comic Book Mastheads

SUPERTYPE! Comic Book Mastheads

Friday find: Typewriter ribbon tins

Janine Vangool from Calgary, Canada has a great collection of vintage typewriter ribbon tins. How cool!

Janine Vangool from Calgary, Canada has a great collection of vintage typewriter ribbon tins. How cool:

Janine Vangool's typewriter ribbon tin collection

Janine Vangool's typewriter ribbon tin collection

Janine Vangool's typewriter ribbon tin collection

Janine Vangool's typewriter ribbon tin collection

Janine Vangool's typewriter ribbon tin collection

Janine Vangool's typewriter ribbon tin collection

Janine Vangool's typewriter ribbon tin collection

Janine Vangool's typewriter ribbon tin collection

Janine Vangool's typewriter ribbon tin collection

Janine Vangool's typewriter ribbon tin collection

This last one is my personal favourite:

Janine Vangool's typewriter ribbon tin collection

See more in Janine’s Flicker set and read an interview with her about the collection on Poppytalk.

Friday find: Vintage erasers

Lovely eraser branding and packaging from yesteryear… and a skateboard deck!

1940s Vintage Eberhard Faber Ruby Eraser Box via Swiss Miss:

Vintage eraser branding

Vintage erasers from Lisa Kongdon’s A Collection A Day:

Vintage eraser branding

And in sticking with the theme, a skate deck entitled “Big Mistake” hand painted by Jennifer Daniel for Bordo Bello Auction:

Pink Pearl eraser skate deck

Sex, prison and lost ligatures: The story of Avant Garde

I needed to clear this up for myself, the truth behind this great and mysterious typeface we know as Avant Garde. So for the benefit of those interested, here is the story…

I needed to clear this up for myself, the truth behind this great and mysterious typeface we know as Avant Garde. So for the benefit of those interested, here is the story:

Herb Lubalin (1918 – 1981) was a prominent American graphic designer. In 1962 he teamed up with a journalist called Ralph Ginzburg (1929 – 2006) and together they published a controversial erotic magazine called Eros. By the fourth issue the magazine got shut down for violating federal obscenity laws in the USA. They followed with a magazine called Fact, but this one also came to a premature end due to legal troubles.

Avant Garde

Six months later Lubalin and Ginzberg released the first issue of Avant Garde, an attractive hard-bound periodical which would run for 14 issues between January 1968 and July 1971. Following in the footsteps of its predecessors, Avant Garde pushed the boundaries of censorship and ceased when Ginzberg went to prison for featuring nude models depicting the alphabet!

Avant Garde magazine’s most notable legacy is arguably its instantly recognisable logo designed by Lubalin:

Avant Garde

Lubalin expanded the logo design into an extensive range of characters and ligatures intended solely for use in the identity and headlines of the magazine.

Avant Garde

Avant Garde

Demand from the design community for an Avant Garde typeface became such that Lubalin employed the help of his partner Tom Carnase and together they transformed the Avant Garde lettering into a full-fledged typeface. ITC Avant Garde was first released in 1970 by the International Typeface Corporation, a company formed by Lubalin that same year.

Avant Garde

Avant Garde

Avant Garde

The original release comprised five weights, including one version for headlines and one for body copy. Sadly the modern digitized releases did not include the vast amount of ligatures and alternate characters. For a while they were considered lost, but fortunately the advent of OpenType technology has allowed ITC to release a complete digital version of Avant Garde Gothic offering all the original alternate characters and ligatures.

Avant Garde

Despite its pure geometric shapes, the typeface is a deceptively tricky one to use well and many designers lacked the necessary understanding of Lubalin’s letterforms. After being released commercially, the font quickly became overused and is commonly found in poor design solutions. Avant Garde remains extremely popular to this day and the most successful examples of use are where restraint is exercised such as this identity for Music Balloon by Golden:

Avant Garde

Avant Garde

Sources:

* Note: A ligature in typography is a special character consisting of two or more joined letters.

Friday find: Flight thru Instruments, 1945

How awesome is this rare military flight manual from 1945? That front cover couldn’t be more perfect.

An excerpt from the foreword:

The pilot who cannot fly through instruments, therefore, consigns himself and his plane to a part time job and places both in the premodern era where usefulness was limited by the amount of daylight and visibility.

Flight thru Instruments, 1945

Flight thru Instruments, 1945

Flight thru Instruments, 1945

Via: Prof. Michael Stoll’s Flickr

Incredible vintage typography from Sanborn Map Company

Examples of the incredible variety of ornate typographic titles which appeared on Sanborn Maps between 1880 and 1920.

Founded in 1866 by Daniel Alfred Sanborn, a surveyor from Massachusetts, The Sanborn Company began making fire insurance maps in 1867. The company first gained recognition for the rich detail employed in the maps they produced in the 1800s, and today these archived maps are still widely used for research purposes. Sanborn still exists as a mapping and GIS company.

The images below are examples of the incredible variety of ornate typographic titles which appeared on maps between 1880 and 1920.

Sanborn Maps

Sanborn Maps

Sanborn Maps

Sanborn Maps

Sanborn Maps

Sanborn Maps

Sanborn Maps

Sanborn Maps

See more at BibliOdyssey.

Figural Cameos

Cameo refers to type design in which the characters are reversed out of a black background. In figural cameos, the background typically depicts the product or service being advertised.

Cameo refers to type design in which the characters are reversed out of a dark background. In figural cameos, the background typically depicts the product or service being advertised. Judging by the dates on some of these vintage mail items, this form of branding reached it’s height in the 1800s, although I have seen quite a few contemporary designs referencing this unique artform.

Figural Cameo

Figural Cameo

Figural Cameo

Figural Cameo

Figural Cameo

Figural Cameo

Figural Cameo

Figural Cameo

I originally came across these images on Miss Moss and traced some more info on The Trade Card Place.