Lunar Refractions: An Abecedarium

When life lacks character, you have to actively seek it out. For me, it usually returns in the form of characters themselves—letters, scrawlings, and texts of all sorts. This past summer I co-organized a brief, intense trip through northeastern Italy to look at a broad variety of lettering with a group called Legacy of Letters. I'm preparing a lengthier article on the experience, but with 3,000+ images and a lot of notes to sort through, it's taking its own time. Meanwhile, for those who've asked, those who know of the tour, and others who love letters, here's a small sampling of what we saw.


These snippets—robbed of their proper scale and context—can only convey so much. But alongside their morphology, the stories that accompany them speak volumes. In addition to examples by anonymous letterers, we saw work by Giambattista Bodoni, Francesco Griffo (whose Y is above), Aldus Manutius, Giovanni Mardersteig, Bob Noorda (D), Aldo Novarese, Carlo Scarpa, Bartolomeo Sanvito, and several others—including the contemporary calligrapher Luca Barcellona (K). Until the next installment, thanks for looking, and I'll return with more next month.

Previous Lunar Refractions can be read here.