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More architectural lettering from Australia

07/12/2014

Having noticed recent interest in a post first made in September 2011, I belatedly follow up with another taken during my productive vacation the other month. Regular readers will have noted my comments on Dorrigo (click here if you missed them), but on the way to that township we went through the larger outpost of Bellingen (30.4333° S, 152.9000° E).

It was in this place that I spotted the rather wonderful cast-iron lettering shown here, Bellingen boots shoes signagewhich adorned, by the looks of it, a late-nineteenth Bellingen Ironmongeryhaberdashery shop (the sort of emporium that sold everything to the local population unable to make the trip with any frequency to a city).

bellingen emporiumNow I have been scouring my books, in particular Bartram’s The English Lettering Tradition from 1700 to the present day (Lund Humphries, 1986) and Nicolete Gray’s Lettering on Buildings (The Architectural Press, 1960) and XIXth Century Ornamented Types and Title Pages (Faber and Faber, 1938) and make the observation that what we have here is what the former describes as ‘decorative’ and the latter as ‘Tuscan style’, though most definitely Victorian in origin. (For more on Gray see here.)

Gray writes: ‘Like the Egyptian, the nineteenth-century Tuscan was at least as much an architectural as a typographical invention’.  This example shows a range of typefaces from the 1860s and 1870s.Gra and Tuscan lettering_0001

Gra and Tuscan letteringIts origin, she continues, may be traced to fourth century Rome and ‘one of the greatest of letterers, Furius Dionysius Filocalus. The name is undoubtedly a pseudonym and expresses the man’s attitude to his work: conscious, devoted and expressionist’. This example (below) comes from the Catacomb of St Calixtus, Rome and is taken from Lettering on Buildings – a must read for any serious student of typography.

The other images above are taken from Lettering and XXIXth Ornamented (another volume to add to the Christmas wish list).

So, from Bellingen to Rome in one fair sweep.

Filocalus lettering from 4th century Rome

Filocalus lettering from 4th century Rome

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