All posts tagged: Letterform Archive

Fine Specimens of The Letterform: Archive Releases Gems to Auction at Swann

Fine Specimens of The Letterform: Archive Releases Gems to Auction at Swann

Graffiti writers who have expanded their self-definition in the last two decades endeavor to regard the alphabet as a collection of symbols, of letterforms. In pursuit of a more expansive intellectual and artistic comportment perhaps, curiosity has let certain letter writers even deconstruct the letter to become an abstraction, so far mediated by tools and imagination to become unrecognizable as a letter. Other writers of graffiti have conjoined their street and public-space pursuits with techniques common to tattooists, or calligraphers, or even graphic designers.

Paul Klee, Bauhaus postcard, Weimar, 1923. (image courtesy of Letterform Archive)

San Francisco’s Letterform Archive could easily inspire any fan of lettering; their enormous collection of typographic history includes more than 60,000 objects at last count. With books, magazines, and all manner of prints donated, sometimes they need to de-accession the duplicates.

We’re pleased to show some of the current beauties here – inspirational on their own. Iconic pieces of graphic design, prints, books, periodicals, type specimens, and other typographic ephemera, some are the aesthetic and historical equivalent of gemstones for collectors and artists.

Fre Cohen, Schiphol Gemeente-Luchthaven van Amsterdam, Amsterdam, 1932. (image courtesy of Letterform Archive)

Bauhaus and Dada and the more utilitarian of action graphics, diagrammatics, and the dawn of the global corporate nomenclature. The letter symbols interplay with artwork, illustrations, photography, or standing alone as the sole elements. We have seen artists on the street experimenting in some of these directions, but there are many routes to take inspiration from. Included are works from such prominent type foundries as Klingspoor, Schelter & Giesecke, Berthold, Peignot & Fils, and Bauer .

Wednesday May 12 the Letterform Archive is having its first-ever auction through Swann Galleries and you can submit bids in advance or wait till it goes live. We’re looking forward to seeing what sells best as a sort of barometer of tastes. But more importantly we’re pleased to see the letterform once again given the appreciation it deserves.

Here are some examples from the upcoming sale.

Motor/Dynamo, Ludwig & Meyer, Frankfurt, ca. 1930. (image courtesy of Letterform Archive)
Lyonel Feininger, Bauhaus postcard, Weimar, 1923. (image courtesy of Letterform Archive)
Rudolf Baschant, Bauhaus postcard, Weimar, 1923. (image courtesy of Letterform Archive)
Bradbury Thompson, Westvaco Inspirations 210, 1958. (image courtesy of Letterform Archive)
Dadaphone No. 7, Paris, 1920. Edited and published by Tristan Tzara. (image courtesy of Letterform Archive)
Noel Martin, Sutnar: visual design in action, 1961. (image courtesy of Letterform Archive)
Pagina magazine, Issues 1–7, 1962–64. (image courtesy of Letterform Archive)

Letterform Archive is a nonprofit center for inspiration, education, publishing, and community located in San Francisco, CA. To learn more about this organization click HERE.

Learn more at Swann’s tutorial page about registration, premiums, and various ways to bid.

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