On Finally Visiting the Letterform Archive

Last weekend we went to a reception held at the Letterform Archive in San Francisco following the Typo15 conference. Rob Saunders, the creator/collector of the archive, gave an entertaining talk on W. A. Dwiggins last year at the San Francisco Public Library and we'd browsed the rich online collection, but despite reports that we really needed to go to the place, we hadn't made it until last Saturday. Go online and see the archive absolutely, but if you happen to be a local or just blowing through*, then hie thee...uh... there.

*for, as Oscar Wilde (or was it Gandhi?) is said to have said "It's an odd thing, but anyone who disappears is said to be seen in San Francisco.")

 Type specimen books at the Letterform Archive.

Type specimen books at the Letterform Archive.

Kate Robinson, the Curatorial Assistant said they like to schedule visitors in groupings of at least a few because not simply as a matter of convenience, but for the sheer serendipity. This person asks about this, that about that and you end up in places you hadn't considered. 

 Kate Robinson, Curatorial Assistant at the Letterforms Archive sporting her pressmark on her left arm. 

Kate Robinson, Curatorial Assistant at the Letterforms Archive sporting her pressmark on her left arm. 

Kate took us upstairs when we arrived and started pulling from the long shelf of Dwiggins matter, and as we were looking at that, another guy came up looking for Adrian Frutiger materials. Rob Saunders had told him to see the work of Walter Käch, who had been Frutiger's teacher.

 Käch!

Käch!

 Also Käch!

Also Käch!

 aaaaand Käch, too.

aaaaand Käch, too.

So then Saunders pulls out this great book of Käch's catacomb rubbings...

  Bildzeichen der Katakomben , Walter Käch

Bildzeichen der Katakomben, Walter Käch

And another guy, a teacher from Iran, gone through the Bay Area and now teaching at Oklahoma State, was interested in El Lissitzky and Rob pulled a bunch of goodies including...

 This...

This...

 And this...

And this...

and it lead somehow or other to a Fry & Co. type specimen sheet with teen-incy (that is southern for itty-bitty) Diamond body sized type...Here is the guy Rob was showing the Käch to, trying to make it out. They call it the size "diamond" because you need a jeweler's loupe to read it. 

 Reading the Diamond type of 

Reading the Diamond type of 

 I made this in black and white because my fingernail (included in the picture for relative size) is appallingly filthy. Black and white takes a bit of the gross out. You are welcome.

I made this in black and white because my fingernail (included in the picture for relative size) is appallingly filthy. Black and white takes a bit of the gross out. You are welcome.

Below are even more pictures from our visit:

 This is Rob pointing out Ladislav Sutnar's book on modern design. There is a    Kickstarter campaign  for a gorgeous facsimile edition in the works (attention to ink and paper stocks, etc). We got in on it.

This is Rob pointing out Ladislav Sutnar's book on modern design. There is a Kickstarter campaign for a gorgeous facsimile edition in the works (attention to ink and paper stocks, etc). We got in on it.

 Rider was in it for the food and the little shop dog - what a spread!

Rider was in it for the food and the little shop dog - what a spread!