Vintage Book Covers Spotted in the Wild

Some more vintage book covers I snapped recently, my favorite being the Jugendstil-ish Prince of the House of David. No credit was given for that illustration or for the calligrapher who did the hand-lettering on the Pakistan cover. However,  the Steinbeck cover and interior were illustrated by Paris Review founding art editor, William Pène Du Bois, a prolific children’s book author in his own right.

1940s Office of War Information Victory Garden Posters

From well before there were multi-national mega-corporations churning out the genetically modified nonsense that passes for food these days, these posters — mostly from the Office of War Information and War Food Administration (real things) — encouraged Americans to take ownership of their food supply by planting victory gardens and putting food up for long-term storage. Novel ideas, I’d say.

Walruses as Architectural Details

Somewhere in downtown Seattle, these walruses adorn a mysterious (to me, at least) pre-war building that backs up to a parking lot on a hill. These are at least a few stories up from the building’s entrance around the corner and I doubt too many folks notice them when entering or leaving the building. Folks parking cars, however, get a walrus’-eye view. Click to enlarge:

1884 U.S. Census Maps Show Forest Trees of North America

Officially titled “Sixteen Maps Accompanying Report On Forest Trees Of North America, By C.S. Sargent, 1884,” this beautiful collection of maps-as-info-graphics produced by the U.S. Census provides a Victorian era view of forests in North America by genus of tree, density, and position. Thanks to Rebecca Onion who runs Slate’s history blog The Vault (@SlateVault) for posting this article, which contains link to high-res images for zoom-in fun.

There are Now Over 600 Photos in My Hand-Painted Signs Gallery

I’ve been snapping photos of hand-painted signs (or otherwise handmade) for as long as I can remember and only just today went over the 600 mark. After a recent trip to visit my former home, NYC, I discovered several new “reveals” that were the result of City Gates or Coca Cola awnings being removed during renovations. Luckily I had a decent enough camera on my phone to capture them with. After all the years of having this obsession, you’d think I’d never leave the house without my digital SLR. Click here to view the photos.

Seeing is Believing: Seed Catalog Covers and the Search for the Perfect Vegetable

A rotating exhibit at the Lillian Goldman Visitor Center of the Seed Savers Exchange highlights some beautiful seed catalog covers from days gone by.  I’m nowhere near Decorah, IA, but if you aren’t either, don’t fret. They’re updating this Facebook photo album with samples from the exhibit. Hopefully they’ll be adding more as this is merely the inaugural selection. When you’re done, you should also check out another album of “Early 1900’s Seed Catalog Tin Signs & Magnets,” which they’ve re-issued as tin replicas that you can buy in their online store.

Nikki Villagomez – How Culture Affects Typography – Talk at AIGA Austin

Those of you who frequent this website should appreciate the relevance of this AIGA Austin presentation: On Thursday, March 27, 2014, designer, blogger and typophile Nikki Villagomez will share her thoughts on how culture affects the decision-making processes of everyday life. Her presentation includes pictures taken throughout her travels accompanied by a discussion of the comparisons (and contrasts) in typography choices based on location.

I’ll be there:

Thursday, March 27, 2014
6:30 PM – 8:00 PM

thirteen23
506 Congress Ave. Suite 200
Austin, Texas 78701

Register here.

Confessions of a Bookplate Junkie

bookplate-junkieReady for another visually and intellectually stimulating time suck? Look no further than the wonderfully rambling blog Confessions of a Bookplate Junkie where said junkie Lew Jaffe shows off his personal collection of bookplates—which go way beyond those timid Papyrus “ex libris” stickers—as well as other related bits of graphical ephemera and goes on wild hare tangents that both inform and amuse. Seriously, any fans of spot color printing, woodcut, engraving and etching, hand-lettering, illustration and graphic design in general will find this otherwise modest blog to be pure design inspiration.

New Bock Beer Labels – Cult of the Goat

Fort Pitt BockI’ve just added some new label scans to the Cult of the Goat bock beer labels gallery. It’s now up to 74 gruesome, goofy, and plain old weird looking goat-adorned labels from American breweries—like the one here from Fort Pitt Brewery, which resembles something out of a ’70s Salem witch trials movie. Enjoy!

Texas Tray Postcard

Here’s one of the stranger items I’ve stumbled upon in my dustbin diving. Apparently, you used to be able to stick a stamp on just about anything and mail it—including this aluminum Tray Postcard adorned with all of the highlights one could handle on their trip to the Lone Star State. There’s no indication of when this was created nor whether any were actually mailed or delivered to their intended recipients. Just a slice of potential postal history that managed to survive relatively unscathed.  Seen one in the wild? Or, even better, received one?

baia Instamount Photo Cube

I’m a sucker for 1950s color advertising photography, with its over-saturated colors and idyllic subjects and scenery. The packaging for the baia Instamount Photo Cube was no let down in this respect. Looking like scenes from bygone family-oriented TV shows the sides of this box, which held a once ubiquitous acrylic photo cube, wreak of family values and WASPy middle American life. The eye-catcher for me, though, was the simple 3-color baia logo set in a bold, slightly extended version of Clarendon. It feels rather modern for such a classic and commonly used typeface perhaps due to the even/odd interplay of the flipped words’ alternating characters. I owned a baia 8mm film editor some time ago and never paid much mind to the faded, black logo on it. I’d surely have kept the thing if the logo had appeared like this.

HandPaintedType Project

The HandpaintedType project is a collaborative, on-going effort to preserve, well,  the hand painted type of Indian street painters. A 10-minute documentary video introduces the project’s website visitors to a few of these forgotten masters as well as the computer-aided scoundrels who’ve made their skills “obsolete.” In the fast-moving haste of bustling Delhi, business owners prefer cheap and speedy Arial-based signs over the comparatively arduous, though stunningly artistic hand-painted banners of yore. [Read more…]

Bell Records Pocket Books 45 RPM Records

bell-records-pocket-books-covers-tequilaBehold this recently acquired stash of Bell Records 45 RPM and 78 RPM 7-inch vinyl records, which were distributed by Pocket Books and featured cover versions or “sound-alike” versions of popular tunes of the time. Sound-alike versions were cheap to produce and, beyond the flat rate the musicians were paid, cost the record company only publishing royalties on top of manufacturing and distribution. A nickel and dime game perhaps, but there was certainly profit to be made if enough unsuspecting customers bought the sound-alikes instead of the real McCoys.  Some of the songs featured in this collection are Jackie Wilson’s That’s Why, here performed by otherwise-lost-to-history act, “The Muses” and the Kingston Trio’s hit, Tom Dooley, performed by the equally anonymous “The Four Dreams.” [Read more…]

The Lost Type CO-OP

lost-type-coopThe Lost Type Co-Op is a Pay-What-You-Want Type foundry, the first of its kind.” So reads the first line on their About Us page. I had to read their About Us page because I wanted to find out what the catch was. Here are several typefaces—many vintage-inspired—that I’d like to own and each has a pay-what-you-will price model that ruffled the skeptical feathers on this bird. But there’s no catch. The Lost Type Co-Op really does sell high quality fonts designed for print and sometimes web use (@font-face) for whatever price—including zero dollars—you are willing to pay. Upon entering the amount and clicking the DOWNLOAD button on a particular font’s page, your download starts immediately and you are then redirected to PayPal to complete your order. Yes, your product is delivered before you finished paying for it. [Read more…]