Review: Ten Years of Tipoteca Italiana

Posted inFeatured
Thumbnail for Regional Design Awards: 2018 Winner Galleries

Paul Shawteaches calligraphy at Parsons School of Design and the history of typeat the School of Visual Arts. This June, he is leading a lettering tourof Italy that will include a weekend at the Tipoteca. For moreinformation, contact him at

A Story with Character: Ten Years of Tipoteca Italiana

By Sandro Berra Photography by Fabio Zonta Published by Cornuda: Tipoteca Italiana Fondazione, 2006

The Tipoteca Italiana Fondazione is a private museum devoted to letterpress printing in the small town of Cornuda in the Veneto region of Italy. It is the vision of Silvio Antiga, owner of the modern printing plant Grafiche Antiga, who established the foundation in the summer of 1995. But the museum did not become a reality until the new millennium. This book was created to celebrate the Tipoteca’s tenth anniversary. Although it was published several years ago, it remains little known, even less so than the museum itself which has finally begun to attract the attention of typographers, designers, printers, and artists outside of Italy. Copies are still available directly from the Tipoteca itself.

A Story with Character doesn’t focus on the creation of the Tipoteca, but it is full of wonderful photographs of printing equipment, type, and printers. The photographs, both historical and new, are not only evocative and informative—they are simply gorgeous. They show off the printing ability—on uncoated paper—of Grafiche Antiga and the talent of photographer Fabio Zonta. The historical photographs cover both printing and typefounding with memorable images: a white lab-coat-clad Aldo Novarese designing a typeface with a pointed brush, the binding department at the Istituto Italiano d’Arti in Bergamo with everyone in the middle of their duties momentarily frozen in place for the camera, Francesco Filetti poised confidently in his Spoleto printshop with his iron handpress, and a close-up of the zuccone counterweight on an Amos dell’Orto press of 1842. The physicality and tactility of letterpress printing is lovingly recorded.

The book also includes examples of Italian printing, especially type specimens and pages from graphic design periodicals such as Il Risorgimento Grafico and Campo Grafico. They are supplemented in the book by a quick survey of the most important Italian typefaces of the 20th century, several of which are not available digitally and thus will be fresh to non-Italians. Together, these magazines and typefaces provide a window into a little-known area of modern typographic history.

To acquire copies of A Story with Character contact:

Sandro Berra Tipoteca via Canapificio 3 31041 Cornuda (TV) or email at