Amsterdam’s Curly Letters

Venice has stencil, London has Gill Sans and Amsterdam has what locals refer to as “Krulletters”—highly ornamented script painted with a brush, “whose history is closely linked to Amsterdam’s traditional cafes and bars (known as ‘brown bars’),” writes Ramiro Espinoza, who with Rob Becker created Der Amsterdamse Krulletter: The Curly Letter of Amsterdam (Lecturis, Eindhoven). This informative bilingual (Dutch/English) volume is devoted to the indigenous sign lettering through generous assortments of velvety black-and-white photographs by Espinoza chronicling the ubiquity of the curvaceous script.

 

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Despite its ubiquity, Espinoza writes, “One of the biggest obstacles [for] sign painters trying to paint Amsterdamse Krulletters is the absence of any printed example that consistently displays all the letters. With the model presented here [above] we tried to fill this gap by offering a guide to those who wish to continue the tradition.” And what a legacy there is, rooted in Italian scripts but with “diverse origins” that “come together to give shape to a new form of expression with its own unique characteristics.” Order the book here.

 

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