Type fashions come and go, but the Western alphabet and Arabic numerals are here to stay. Correspondence lettering schools were for a long time, during the 20th century, the keepers of fashionable and classical lettering. One of the most prominent was the Detroit School of Lettering founded by C.J. Strong.
The examples here come from one of a series of ten booklets created in the 1910s to teach the “distance learning” student how to create show card writing and more. Strong wrote the text and made the illustrations for the booklets. The first four booklets deal with the “Rudiments of Lettering,” the second group of two are on “Showcard Writing” and the last four on “Theory and Practice.” Even back then, theory was an issue.
These letters have a certain flair that echoed the architectural and furniture fashions of the day, proving that type was as populist and sometimes even as dysfunctional as any medium.
To see similar books visit the American Sign Museum.
For more Steven Heller, check out Citizen Designer: Perspectives on Design Responsibility, one of the many Heller titles available at MyDesignShop.com.