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Civic and Memorial Lettering – c1946


Percy J Delf Smith is not a name I am familiar with. But the other day at my favourite second-hand bookshop (which has been resurrected in a new place, having had to vacate its last premises) I came across his Civic and Memorial Lettering, published in 1946. It’s a gem – pure gold.

Dear Percy ran a workshop called Dorno, though where it was I do not know. (At the end of his author’s note, he has Hampstead, 1945, as his address – but whether that’s where the studio was I’ve yet to research.) [Thanks to Bill Grant for letting me know about the Percy Smith Foundation – which you can find at this link.]

The sub-title to the book’s cover is subtle – for this is a handbook that might be of interest to professionals and students…’and some others’. Who those ‘others’ might be I can’t hazard a guess.

The book is a sort of plea to those who are about to rebuild Britain after the six years of war – in the conclusion he writes: “There seems no reason why, in the future, all our country towns, large and small, should not support a lettering workshop, in touch with local authorities and with the nearest schools of design and art, supplying local needs in carving and painting, giving an interesting life to its workers and making a worthwhile contribution to local amenities.”

Pity that never happened. Below, some of his brush work.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 29/05/2011 12:07 am

    Very nice example of brushwork. I did not at first remember hearing of Mr Smith but managed to find another copy of the book at
    I had heard, however, of the dorno workshop Read more at
    His links with Johnston and the Society of Calligraphers would explain his plea for all councils to have their own lettering depts.

  2. 20/10/2013 5:52 pm

    London Transport’s iconic Johnston typeface had a serif variant-originally for use at LT’s headquarters in Broadway, but also adopted for signage in historic precincts. That variant was designed by Percy and known as Johnston Delf-Smith.

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