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This Just In: The Ross F. George Archive

Ross F. George was the inventor of the Speedball pen and original author of the Speedball Text Book. We thank his family for donating a major archive of his work.

Ink on signboard drawing advertisement for Speedball drawing and lettering pens.
Left: Prototype pens by Ross F. George. Right: Ink on signboard drawing for Speedball pen advertisement.

Seattle sign painter and showcard writer Ross F. George (1889–1959) was the inventor of the Speedball pen and author of the first 17 editions of the Speedball textbook (now in its centennial edition).

With this post we gratefully acknowledge George’s family’s donation of an archive of his work, containing drawings for original alphabets published in the Speedball textbooks, his pens (including some early prototypes), showcards and other examples of his lettering and drawing, account books, papers, and photos.

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Celebrating A Year with the Jan Tholenaar Collection

Last August, the Tholenaar collection of type specimens made its way from Amsterdam to San Francisco. Since then, we’ve shared the acquisition with hundreds of letter lovers.

Tholenaar nameplate

Jan Tholenaar (d. 2009) was a Dutch bibliophile who collected the letter arts in a variety of printed formats. His extensive collection of books, type specimens, and ephemera is best-known for serving as the inspiration behind Taschen’s Type: A Visual History of Typefaces and Graphic Styles. In his introduction to Volume I, Cees W. de Jong speaks admiringly of Tholenaar’s “international private collection of type specimens, his admiration and love for diverse letters and ornaments, and his examples of artistic printing.”

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This Just In: Identity Manual Collection

Thanks to a generous gift from Professor Dennis Y. Ichiyama, Letterform Archive is excited to add nearly 200 identity manuals to our collection.

Corporate identity manuals

Dennis Ichiyama is a designer and professor of visual communication design at Purdue University. As a student, he studied under Paul Rand at Yale, learning the importance of creating within limitations — a philosophy he carried with him into a long career as a designer and educator.

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This Just In: Aaron Marcus

Letterform Archive gratefully acknowledges Aaron Marcus’s recent donation of an archive of his work.

Aaron Marcus, Directions for Genesis 1 and 2, 1973
Aaron Marcus, Soft Where, Inc., Vol. 1, 1975

The newly acquired collection encompasses a broad swath of Marcus’s works and interests, ranging from art and design to physics and computer science. Through his experimental design works and creative explorations, Marcus challenges both our notion of what letters are and how they are constructed. His explorations — through both hand work and computer code — prefigure a computer-assisted approach to creative expression that is widely utilized by artists and designers today.

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