When Typography Hit The Airwaves

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Tony Wons was a popular personality during the 1930s Great Depression era receiving 2,000 fan letters a week. Tony Wons Scrapbook was a conversational show and he was like an old friend who stopped by for a chat. His catch-phrase to the audience was “Are you listening?”

He was also known as “scrapbookman” as he collected works of writing from Shelley, Whitman, and other important literary figures, many of which were suggested by the fans of his show. Wons began looking at inspirational essays when he was recovering in the hospital for two years. He began collecting them in a scrapbook and described himself as a “peptomist.”

Tony Wons Scrapbook (the radio show) was sponsored by Hallmark Cards. The anthology was published annually. What stands out throughout the years of its publication is the evolution from traditional typography to a decidedly hybrid constructivist style in a jazzy art deco manner. The three examples here are just a few of the artifacts available (obnoxious plug) at my “Moving Sale”.


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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 →