Engraved Letter Forms Donated to Hill Memorial Library

nancy sharon collins's picture

It took three years, almost to the day, but yesterday I delivered the steel cabinets containing eight drawers filled with lovely old dowagers of hand engraved type to the Hill Memorial Library Special Collections at Louisiana State University.

Most of these are personal monograms, family crests and seals from local New Orlean private social clubs and organizations. One drawer is filled with monograms that would be identical were it not that each has a different combination of initials.

Some look as if they were engraved in the 1930s.

And others look just a little bit older.

Here are some close-up of them:

Ironically, during the same visit I also delivered ten oral histories from graphic artists, designers, type salesmen and printers in south Louisiana—each in its own little MP3 file on three DVDs. This part felt so modern, and yet, the histories go back more than ninety years. And some of these half inch thick steel dies are even older.

On my way home I stopped at our local grocery store and ran into the son of one of the engravers whose work is now part of the Hill Memorial collection. I asked him, "Are you guys still engraving?"

"Half and half, I'm working a lot of constructin these days." Which happened post-Katrina. "We picked-up a client out of Jersey but only get one job at a time. Used to be our clients sent in orders five dies at a time, not anymore."

"Yah," I said, "we all gotta make a living." http://hill.blogs.lib.lsu.edu/

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