Letterform Archive is a nonprofit library and museum dedicated to inspiration and education in the letter arts. Opened to the public in February 2015, the Archive offers visitors hands-on access to its curated collection of 30,000 items related to lettering, typography, calligraphy, and graphic design spanning 2,000 years of history. In addition to hosting visits and public events, we also serve a global community through social media, state-of-the-art photography, and publications. Since opening, the Archive has welcomed over 1,400 visitors from 27 countries.
Rob Saunders, a collector of the letter arts for over 40 years, founded Letterform Archive as a place to share his private collection with the public. The Archive contains materials in a variety of formats, including books, periodicals, posters, maquettes, drawings, prints and related ephemera, as well as a robust reference library. Together, these works chronicle the history and diversity of the letter arts, from the invention of writing, through medieval manuscripts and the age of print, to the present explosion of digital type. In August 2015 the Archive acquired the Tholenaar collection of typeface specimens—the personal library of the late Dutch publisher and bibliophile Jan Tholenaar—thereby nearly doubling its holdings.
As a resource for existing and potential students, practitioners, and admirers of the field, the Archive offers courses and workshops in type design, calligraphy, and typography, some in conjunction with The Cooper Union. The Archive also curates exhibitions of its holdings, organizes lectures by visiting artists & designers, and hosts brunches, dinners, & receptions to showcase new acquisitions or celebrate out-of-town guests.
All photographs and text on this site are original. You are welcome to share images for non-commercial purposes, provided you credit Letterform Archive and link to http://letterformarchive.org. Any copyright in the works represented remains with the copyright owner(s).
Simran Thadani, Executive Director, began a sustained interest in letterforms when she taught herself gothic calligraphy in middle school. She has since also trained in paleography (the study of old scripts), learned letterpress printing, and written a dissertation on handwriting instruction in Renaissance England. She has worked extensively with special collections (rare books, manuscripts, fine press, and the book arts). Simran earned her BA at Wellesley College and her MA and PhD at the University of Pennsylvania. She has been a member of the summer staff at Rare Book School, and is co-editor of The ABC for Book Collectors.
Rob Saunders, Founder & Curator, is a designer, teacher, publisher, and management consultant who has had a lifelong interest in the letter arts. After curating a collection of graphic design, letterforms, and related ephemera over the course of 40 years, he founded a nonprofit institution to share the collection, making it available for students, practitioners, and admirers of the letter arts. Rob began his career teaching at The School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and Tufts University, while serving freelance clients and agencies, before founding a book publishing enterprise that included Alphabet Press (graphic design), Picture Book Studio (children’s books), and Rabbit Ears Books (book/audio packages), which was eventually acquired by Simon & Schuster. Prior to founding Letterform Archive he served as a creative and marketing consultant with clients in the hospitality, technology, and financial industries.
Amelia Grounds, Librarian, earned an BA in art history from Lawrence University, an MA in Later Medieval Studies from the University of York, and an MLIS from University College London. She has worked as a special collections and preservation librarian at a number of institutions in the UK and the US including York Minster Library; University of California Berkeley, Law Library; and the Royal Asiatic Society in London. Her research has focused on the history of bookbinding and the relationship between text and image in medieval devotional manuscripts and early printed books. Her expertise in the materiality of book history make her especially interested in exploring and communicating the role of materials and techniques central to the execution of successful design in Letterform Archive’s collection.
Kate Goad, Operations Associate, comes to Letterform Archive as an experienced administrator in the graphic design field. She previously worked in the publishing industry and has a profound interest in book arts and typography. She holds an English BA from Oklahoma Christian University, where she earned two consecutive national awards for her work as editor of their literary journal. She is currently pursuing her MLIS through Drexel University.
Johnny Avots-Smith, Development Director, first fell in love with type when he picked up the photo font discs from his mother’s typesetting machine as a kid. He has spent the last decade working in all sorts of nonprofits: big universities, small theater companies, regional public television stations. He earned his BA and master of nonprofit administration from the University of San Francisco and is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE).
Board of Directors
Stephen Coles is an editor, publisher, and typographer who divides his time between Oakland and Berlin. He publishes the influential blog Typographica.org, edits FontsInUse.com, is the author of The Anatomy of Type, and is an instructor at Type Camp. Previously, he was Type Director at FontShop, as well as a member of their TypeBoard which reviews new typefaces for release by FontFont.
Mark Dimunation is a scholar and rare book librarian. He began his career at The Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley; was Rare Book Librarian at Stanford University; and then served as Curator of Rare Books at Cornell University. In 1998 he was appointed Chief of the Rare Book and Special Collections Division of the Library of Congress, where he is responsible for the development and management of the largest collection of rare books in North America.
Karl Hellman is a marketer, management consultant and author. He has an MS from Northwestern University and a Doctorate in Business Administration from Georgia State University. He is the founder of Resultrek, a global consulting firm serving clients such as JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, UPS, Coca Cola, and Telefonica, and the author of The Customer Learning Curve.
Rick Richter is a book publishing and digital media executive and entrepreneur. He began his publishing career at Picture Book Studio. Subsequently he was co-founder and President of Candlewick Press; President of Sales & Distribution at Simon & Schuster; President and Publisher of the Children’s Division at Simon & Schuster; and co-founder and President of Ruckus Media Group, a venture-funded digital media startup that was acquired in 2013. He is currently a literary agent at Zachary Shuster Harmsworth in Boston.
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