News

Apr 22, 2021

A Letterform Archive Auction

Bring a rare piece of the Archive into your own home or office while supporting our mission: join our first-ever auction on May 12, 2021.

Letterform Archive has one of the world’s best collections of typographic history. We house over 60,000 objects aggregated from various sources and donors with overlapping interests. This often yields multiple copies of a book or print, and there are now hundreds of duplicates to be deaccessioned. Over the last five years we held several small sales, particularly of reference books and type foundry ephemera, but we reserved the rarest gems for a moment when we could offer them all together in a globally accessible auction.

That moment has arrived! Swann Galleries, one of the world’s premier auction houses for art and design, will hold Letterform Archive’s first-ever auction on May 12, 2021 at 9:00am PT / 12:00pm ET. You’ll have an opportunity to bid on iconic pieces of graphic design, including prints, books, periodicals, type specimens, and other typographic ephemera, all of which you can add to your own collection. Best of all, your purchase helps the Archive expand and diversify our collection.

Are you new to auction buying? No sweat. There are lots of ways to participate, and Swann makes it easy, no matter where you are. You can submit bids in advance or wait for the live auction where you can bid online or over the phone. Learn more at Swann’s tutorial page which has information on registration, premiums, and the various ways to bid.

Auction Preview Event

In anticipation of this special event, join Archive founder and curator Rob Saunders, Swann president and auctioneer Nicholas D. Lowry (yep, you may have seen him on Antiques Roadshow), and Poster House curator Angelina Lippert for an online auction preview on May 3, 2021 at 12:00pm PT / 3:00pm ET.

Update: Missed the event? Click below to see the video recording.

Watch the video

Highlights from the Catalog

Whet your appetite for the auction with some selections below from over 150 lots in the catalog. All images are high-res for zooming. Click or tap any thumbnail image to enter fullscreen view; then pinch or use browser to zoom.

Calligraphy, Lettering, and Artistic Printing
Johann Gottfried Weber, <cite>Allgemein Univeisung der neuesten Schonschreibtunst</cite> writing manual, Duisburg,  1784.
Johann Gottfried Weber, Allgemein Univeisung der neuesten Schonschreibtunst, 1784.
Type Specimens
Catalogue of Hebrew and Jewish Types, Berthold, Berlin, 1924.
Catalogue of Hebrew and Jewish Types, Berthold, Berlin, 1924.
Avant-Garde & Bauhaus
Het Overzicht, Nos. 22–24, Antwerp, 1922.
Het Overzicht, Nos. 22–24, Antwerp, 1922.
Mid-Century Modernism
TKTK
Lou Dorfsman, one of approximately 40 pieces of CBS ephemera, 1940s–1960s.

Remember, proceeds from this auction will benefit Letterform Archive’s curatorial goals to continue collecting and preserving letter arts from around the world. So, bid early and bid often!

Browse the complete catalog