Custom-Lettered Antique Treasures

Banjo's picture

I don't know how many of you are already aware this exists, but the British Library has a ton of amazing scans of 19th century text & illustrations on Flickr. They're fascinating to browse through but also incredibly useful since by now they're all well into the public domain. Some of the illustrations are just begging to be used by amateur poster designers, and there's plenty of treasures for font artists looking for ideas and a HUGE challenge! (I highly doubt anything close to many of these hand-lettered titles exists in digital typeface form)

So far one of my absolute favorites is this old book cover, I would kill for a font like the one used in the main title!

And the old comic / story book covers have a wealth of friendlier, informal type designs:

Any long-forgotten antique custom-letters or typefaces that make you drool?

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George Thomas's picture

Well, here's the problem: fonts such as the very ornate one have almost no commercial appeal and the resources required to make such a font exceed that which one could afford to put into it, timewise, except for very large firms such as Monotype.

I agree they are beautiful and I love looking at them, but for the most part the "fonts" on those old ornate covers are actually engravings, not type.

Banjo's picture

Yeah, I know they're mostly engraved / carved / drawn on a one-off basis. But with so many new independent designers, hobbyists and amateurs out there with the ability to design from their laptops in their pajamas, I think ornate fonts have more commercial appeal now than ever. But I'm no expert. I'm going to try and take a crack at, very least, designing a band logo based on that Pennsylvania text. Maybe I can even make it into a font.

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