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You are here: Home / Conferences / Montréal 2017 / Programme

Pre-digital Type Specimens

Aggregation, Examination, and Dissemination
When Sat 16 Sep 0930
Where UQAM, Cœur des sciences
What
Who Stephen Coles

Typeface specimens have become highly sought-after ephemera, not only among type and graphic designers, but all kinds of researchers and collectors of culture. Letterform Archive in San Francisco is building one of the largest and most accessible collections of type specimens in the world. In 2015 the Archive acquired the collection of the late Dutch publisher Jan Tholenaar, dramatically increasing its holdings of foundry publications, both bound catalogs and ephemera. The Archive’s mission is to aggregate these rarities and make its unique collection available through public tours, research opportunities, online media, and printed publications.

What makes type specimens so appealing? What do they tell us about the history of type marketing and production? How did they reshape graphic design and inform the use of specific typefaces? What are the challenges of digitizing specimens and sharing them with the world? How are contemporary designers using and learning from them? This talk will touch on these topics, present some of the most striking and rare examples from the Archive collection, and announce a new publication focused on specimens of the 1920s–60s, the height of type foundry ephemera publishing.

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