When Letterers Had All The Fun

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Type Treasures in Black, Red, Green and Gold

Type Treasures: Schriften-Schatz, Eine Sammlung Praktischer Alphabete Für Berufszeige Aller Art (Fonts Treasure, a collection of Practical Alphabets for Professional Branches of All Kinds)—Otto Maier, Ravensburg, Germany, ca 1890, edited by (a different) Albert Schiller (not this one), who created

specimen and sample lettering books for sign painters—is a marvel of functional and aesthetic ornament.

With printers as the audience and the designers among them as the target, the Type Treasures plates offer a variety of different type and lettering options. The original portfolio features 80 plates with amazingly diverse alphabets, printed in black, red, green and gold, and sometimes combinations of those colors. They represent Roman, Gothisch, Fraktur, Script, Free fonts, Initials, and Foreign Language examples too.

Lettering and typography was so essential in the emerging modern world of the late 19th and early 20th centuries that Otto Maier, a type foundry, was quick to issue these style guides to supplement the metal typefaces offered to their advertising and business clients. It must have been a lot of fun making letters then with such flare and flourish.

About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.View all posts by Steven Heller →

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