Speedball: Rolling in Neutral

Letterers go gaga over Speedball ephemera. It may touch a DIY chord. Or it’s perhaps the most primal way of creating commercial lettering that piques the passion of folks like me. I’ve run a few DH columns on Speedball aesthetics (here and here) and so has J.J. Sedelmaier. We all say the same thing: “I once found a set of Speedball pen nibs as a kid.” Anyone, like me, who fancied themselves or wanted to be a letterer got hold of some Speedball nibs, a textbook, some paper and voila, we were in the ball game.

Speedball is still operating, not under the original owner/founder C. Howard Hunt, but as part of Speedball® Art Products. And here’s a curious discovery: Speedball textbooks went through many stylistic iterations over the years, but remained — more or less — the same. The technique was tried and true. And so they are. The company continues to manufacture all kinds of art supplies, but if you get on the Speedball you’re back in 1899.

My first Speedball Textbook from 1968.

My first Speedball Textbook from 1972 (originally published in 1965).

A classic Textbook from 1933.

A classic Textbook from 1933.

Can you tell which of the two Textbooks this is from? Hint: 1933.

Can you tell which of the two Textbooks this is from? Hint: 1933.

A technique that works from 1933.

A technique that works from 1933.

speedball017

1972

speedball019

1972

1933.

1933.

1972.

1972

 

1933.

1933

speedball022

1933

1972.

1972

1972.

1972

 

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