Dutch Lettering Books

Monday, July 12, 2021, 12:30 - 2:30pm

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Dutch lettering books

The printed model or pattern book, once a source for design ideas, is now a valuable resource for historical research. Model books were essential in the classroom, the workshop and the studio to design interiors, furniture or fashion. It was very common in this genre to borrow right and left from predecessors, which makes it difficult to trace the original source of a design. A flood of primarily lithographic lettering model books and portfolios were published from the early 1830s, though they are often not to be found in traditional repositories and hardly any research has been done on them. In the 1960s the stream of lettering books began to dry up and new titles appeared only occasionally. By that time there were already various alternatives for manual lettering available to the retail trade. As part of the free Herb Lubalin Lecture series, Mathieu Lommen provides an overview of what was published in this field in the Netherlands, from high to low brow.

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Mathieu Lommen is a design historian. He works as a curator of graphic design & typography at the Allard Pierson museum of the University of Amsterdam. In addition to the famous Typographical Library of Typefoundry Amsterdam, this institute holds an extensive collection of Dutch designer archives. Among them are those of Jan van Krimpen, Jurriaan Schrofer and Gerard Unger. The large collection of type specimens is known internationally. Mathieu writes and lectures on the history of book design, type and lettering. His publications include ‘Bram de Does: typographer & type designer’ (2003, with John A. Lane), ‘The book of books: 500 years of graphic innovation’ (2012), ‘Nederlandse belettering’ / ‘Dutch lettering’ (2015 & 2018) and the just published ‘Helmut Salden Uncovered 1:1’ (with Karen Polder). Forthcoming is a monograph on Dutch lettering model books and portfolios. Until 29 August 2021, the exhibition 'Letters of Art Nouveau', which he curated, will be on show in Amsterdam.

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