Thoughts & things about design, travel, and lettering.

Photo-Lettering's One Line Manual of Styles

One of my favorite things to do in Charleston is to browse the lovely shelves of Blue Bicycle Books! One of my recent finds is a copy of Photo-Lettering's One Line Manual of Styles!

Photo-Lettering was a company founded in 1936 and continued to operate until 1997. Its popularity exploded because designers could set text and titles much faster using photo lettering than any other options available. 

Type Token has a much more detailed history of the process, along with drool-worthy type spec pages from other publications; and Forgotten New York has a wonderful peak behind the curtain of what it was like to work for PLINC during the 1980s. 

Nowadays the keepers of all things photo-lettering are House Industries. After acquiring the library they set up a website for modern-day users to set type (almost) just like the old times! The story of them purchasing the library is quite entertaining:

When interviewing Ed Benguiat for a magazine article, he lamented to us that the Photo-Lettering library was just sitting in a storage facility somewhere in Manhattan. The current owners failed to listen to Ed’s warnings to keep up with the times and his subsequent proposals to digitize the fonts. Ed even prompted House to place a bid on the collection. Thinking that the price tag was way out of our league, we never bothered to follow up on his suggestion, until Bob Rose (then one of PLINC’s owners) offered to sell us the library. Since we heavily referenced the PLINC catalogs during the creation of our many display fonts, we thought it was ironic yet somehow appropriate that we become the stewards of this historic collection.
— House Industries
Lauren Beltramo Photo Lettering

The last two photos are samples from House Industries' coveted specimen books. I've been a raging collector of them ever since they spoke at Drexel University while I was at school. At this point I'm a little bit obsessed :) but my boyfriend assures me it's not hoarding - yet.