Amsterdam’s Curly Letters

Posted inThe Daily Heller
Thumbnail for 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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