The Tramp Printers

The Tramp Printers Forgotten Trails of the Travelling Typographers by Charles OverbeckCharles Overbeck’s The Tramp Printers, Forgotten Trails of the Traveling Typographers from Eberhardt Press is a beautiful little book that would make a lovely gift for either the letterpress lover or union activist in your life. read more…

Hermann Zapf’s original Optima sketches

Hermann Zapf's original pencil sketches of Optima on an Italian Banknote.

“During a visit to Italy, I made studies of old inscriptions in Rome and Florence. My attention was caught especially by marble inscriptions on the floor of the Santa Croce Church in Florence. Every day, most people walked over these inscriptions so unmindfully. I got the inspiration one day to use these simple forms without serifs for a typeface.”
—Hermann Zapf read more…

The Spectator: a leaf book

The Spectator: a leaf book from the The Book Club of California, printed by The Grabhorn Press, 1939
The Spectator: a leaf book from the The Book Club of California, printed by The Grabhorn Press, 1939

The Book Club of California has, over the decades published several leaf books—books about a historical publication that include a single page, or leaf, from the original, along with an illuminating essay about the era and the document. read more…

Merry Xmas, Happy Holidays, &cetera

Xmas salsa picante‘Xmas’ has been used in English for centuries. The X is an abbreviation for Christ, from the first letter of Greek Christos. First appearing in English in the Anglo Saxon Chronicle in the early twelfth century, it was spelled with Xp or Xr, corresponding to the Greek ‘Chr,’ thus Xres mæsse meant ‘Christmas.’ read more…

Confession: we once used a chop suey typeface

open and closed signs in chop suey typeface

Back in 2000, the owner of a popular Vietnamese restaurant in San Diego that we frequented asked us to create a customized open/closed sign for his entrance. He was a droll young fellow, so we came up with an absurdly conventional old-chestnut-of-a-design using a chop suey typeface and presented a proof to him in jest. Hot Chef (as he was called by admirers) loved it, and to our surprise, we produced it for him.