Photo-Lettering, Inc. Alphabet Thesaurus Vol. 3



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Alphabet Thesaurus Vol. 3 Photo-Lettering Inc Cover

Alphabet Thesaurus Vol. 3 Photo-Lettering Inc inside


We have had interest and several serious inquiries regarding our hard bound manual of typefaces: Alphabet Thesaurus Vol. 3, published in 1971. As collectors, and designers, we have long held a fascination with type. We received a note from a graphic designer and typographer, Alex Sheldon, whose foundry is called Match and Kerosene. As a freelancer, he has “had the pleasure to work with the likes of Fearless Records, Warner Brothers Records, Motown/Universal, Epitaph Records, and Tooth and Nail/EMI.” His fonts are available through My Fonts. As fellow type and hand lettering fanatics, we thought we would acknowledge him and share some of the original inspirations for our interest.

Our initial interest in hand lettering and fonts was kindled in youth, by the lettering and graphics designed for use in print media in the 60s and 70s. Posters, handbills, album covers, dust jackets, still memorable examples of posters for legendary bands including Cream, Blue Cheer, Traffic, Quick Silver Messenger Service, Moby Grape, the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Big Brother and the Holding Company, the Doors, the Velvet Underground, and countless others.

Posters by unknown and marginally known artists, such as Wes Wilson, Bob Fried, Gary Grimshaw, Lee Conklin, Bob Schnepf, Bonnie MacLean, as well as the giants, Stanley Mouse and Alton Kelley designing under the moniker, “Family Dog” or Victor Moscoso’s “Neon Rose.” The posters and handbills they created for shows at landmark venues for promoters such as Bill Graham Productions, including the Fillmore Auditorium and the Avalon Ballroom, are highly collectible ephemera today. Boasted as “the world’s largest dealer” in rock and roll posters from that era is Other resources include Psychotron Posters and Wolfgang’s Vault. The original hand drawn graphics of this era are inspirational. The vibrating and psychedelic effects of some are visually boggling, even to those adept at the latest design apps available through Adobe.

Just the beginning of lost creative innocence, because our interest evolved further with jazz artists and the covers for their vinyl recordings. But beyond even those seminal interests associated with advertising art, however subliminally, we as artists, have sought out and used fonts in our creative endeavors. Paying homage to the creators of well known and well used fonts, as well as more obscure and headline fonts in our work as artists, in print, and through use in our neon and dimensional signage and sculpture. All are bits and pieces of a curious creative continuum.


Typefaces and Letraset Letters

Alphabet Thesaurus Vol. 3 Photo-Lettering Inc Cover
Alphabet Thesaurus Vol. 3 Photo-Lettering Inc inside
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letraset letters
Letraset ad

The digital revolution began around 1980 and resulted in a major shift from prior analog and mechanical technology toward electronic technology and the digital age. Letraset and Chartpak were the Adobe of the late 60s and 70s for graphic designers. Letrasets dry transfer letters and other products are still sold in England, pricey if not rarified. Letraset letter sheets were produced as 10″ x 15″ and Chartpak, 8.5″ x 11″. The sheets enabled anyone from a designer to a Girl Scout leader to design and create posters, cards, or other ephemera while using letters which conveyed their message with the available fontography. The purpose for their use has definitely shifted to a less commericall more creative direction.

Another example of how digital computing and communication technology have been effected in recent decades was the market for and subsequent publication of a series of lettering thesaurus’ to introduce new letter alphabets, their designers, and potential use. Digital computing and communication technology have made obsolete the need for typesetters and typesetting. Imagine the concept of comps, in lieu of camera ready art produced utilizing costly and specialized equipment. The Alphabet Thesaurus Vol. 3 Photo-Lettering Inc. published by Van Nostrand Reinhold in 1971 is the most definitive publication of its times on type. The 500 page oversized book is still used as a coveted reference tool by graphic artists and typophiles throughout the world.