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Lettering is so often composed of perfect, soaring curves. Never a hair out of place. So, I was delighted to run into this tin that once held fruit cake from Blum’s, a well-loved San Francisco bakery closed since the 70s.

Blum's Fruit Cake

Blum's - the close up.

The overall tone of the lettering is quick, fluid and slightly textured with a bit of angularity thrown in particularly at the baseline. When you get to the letters at the end or beginning of a word, say the B and s in Blum’s, things take a decidedly idiosyncratic turn. The angularity and texture is magnified and (dare I say it) the shapes feel slightly awkward. But, it’s those gestures that add such charm and warmth to the piece, a reminder that surprise and consistency are often perfect bedfellows.

For a closer look at the lettering, check out a full-sized detail on Flickr.

When I want to share something with someone these days, I send a quick email or a tweet. My time is often limited and my attention pulled in multiple directions so I’ve come to value the quickness and ease of communicating by digital means.

Yesterday though, my mom sent me a recipe hand-written by my grandmother who passed away some time ago. Even though she sent it by email, the minute I saw my grandmother’s handwriting a flood of memories came to me about her – her sizable collection of shells, the tiny Keds she wore, her love of a particular shade of green that pervaded the interior decor of her home and the game Boobytrap I used to play only at her house. All of that, from just her handwriting.

Ginny's Buckwheat Cakes Recipe

Her writing style was utilitarian and deliberate probably stemming from her days as an elementary school teacher. Certainly nothing remarkable. Those letterforms were uniquely her own though – a combination of her culture, how she learned to write, her personality, career, age and all the other aspects that create a person’s distinct hand.

In a world saturated with digital messages often conveyed by an assortment of repetitive and preselected typefaces, writing creates a direct link to the person and not just the content. Send out those tweets and status updates, but don’t neglect to write it down every now and then.

PS: Ginny’s Buckwheat Cakes Recipe
ND

Adhesive Helvetica

Hidden within a large collection of rub down and transfer type we acquired last fall was this set of adhesive Helvetica caps and matching Samsonite logos. The stuffy palette says 1984 (as does the fine print on the bottom) but we can only guess at their use. We assume the letters’ original owner, an interior designer by trade, first personalized her luggage (her initials were VR) and then… well we’re not sure. The destination of S & O will have to remain a mystery.

Elephants never forget

When buying used books, sometimes a glimpse of the previous owner comes with them. Inside our copy of “Lettering Poster Design For Pen And Brush” by Ross F. George, copyright 1941, is a very lightly used lettering practice sheet.

Wick logo variations

On the opposite side of same sheet are several variations on the wordmark “Wick”. The previous owner’s last name?