"Anyone know what typeface this is?"

Often (younger) designers will post a vintage image and say "Anyone know what typeface this is?" They don't realize that from the 1920s through the 1950s (into the 60s too, but less so) much of the decorative display text and headlines in advertising was hand lettered. Of course the late 19th century and early 20th had lots of hand lettering too-- but often these were such elaborate extravaganzas no one would mistake them for a typeface. Decorative lettering of that sort-- what you'd see on certificates or legal documents-- was called "engrossing." Hand letterers-- or "penmen"-- were a major commercial force in the 19th to mid-20th centuries and there were dozens of highly esteemed penmanship schools around the country. Next post, I'll focus on the Zaner-Bloser penmanship school -- it'll blow your mind. As an aside, there are several digital typefaces that have been created that are based on handlettering. See Zaner script for example.//

A friend gave me this wonderful 1927 style guide for commercial hand letterers last night. It was so fantastic that it inspired me to finally end my long absence from this space. So if there's anyone out there still reading this blog-- enjoy!


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