Reno’s Antique Miscellany
5 May, 2018

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Moar Hebrew!
5 January, 2018

This large collection of letters comes from Tel Aviv. It’s a rather random assortment of interesting things spotted while wandering around.

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Vintage Wine, Beer, & Spirits Label Exhibition in SF
5 May, 2017

Like some sorta typographic-acid flashback, the last few days have brought many random flashbacks of my awesome time in San Francisco last January. I been remembering a lot of my visit to Kadam, Tânia, and Frank, and finally getting to see the Bay Area. Most of the time was spent buried in books or cocktails – both at Frank & Tânia’s library & kitchen, or many of the cities book shops and bars. Books and drinking, that was pretty much the theme of the visit.

So over the next few posts I’ll be sharing photos of misc SF finds.

First up was a great exhibition at the California Historical Society on Vintage Wine Beer & Spirit Labels. Sadly I’m posting this after the closing date (it ran December 8th 2016 – April 16th, 2017), so hopefully you caught it while it was up if you are nearby. The collection of labels was produced by the Lehmann Printing and Lithographic Company of San Francisco. The exhibition stated:

Designed during the terrible privation and unrest of the Great Depression, Lehmann’s labels graced hundreds of thousands of bottles of mass manufactured, highly alcoholic wines and liquors, invoking deliciously unrealistic fantasies of peace, plenty, and the high-class life. Marrying design with consumer ideology, the Lehmann oeuvre represents a forgotten high point of American commercial art.

Founded in 1911 by Adolph Lehmann with an initial investment of $190, the firm expanded into a major industrial printing operation valued at $600,000 by 1935. A dazzled correspondent for the Inland Printer dubbed Lehmann “the printer who hasn’t heard about the depression.” The company employed one hundred people, including a permanent staff of anonymous artists who designed each custom label with skillful care. To meet an ever-increasing demand for labels, Lehmann also pioneered a stock label service in the mid-1930s, creating catalogs of generic labels with stock vignettes that could be applied to a wide variety of products.

From a typographic standpoint I of course enjoyed many of the labels on display. There were numerous great examples, only a few of which are shown here. My only complaint would be that the lighting made photography extremely difficult. The exhibition was very both well organized and beautiful with its differently colored thematic rooms and archival photos, stories, and other ephemera along side the labels to put things in context and explain the lithographic process and business side of things in more detail.

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Indian Rupee Symbol ₹ in use (or not)
12 August, 2015

Recently on TypeDrawers, a question was asked about how the Indian rupee symbol is being utilized in casual handwriting in the wild. After about a year in India, I have indeed seen it written by hand, but not very often at all. After skimming through my 16,000+ photos from India from the last 3 years, I’ve found only one lonely image containing a handmade ₹.

But as I was searching through the images I came up with a few theories as to why there are so few handmade rupee symbols out there. The images I present here are beyond the scope of of the original question regarding casual, hand-written adaptations – some are here to back up my concepts/claims and others are shown to simply illustrate common situations of how you will find the ₹ in various contexts.

The main theories I have as to why you see so little of hand-written Rupee signs:

1) Many products found in markets or small shops (places you’d most expect to see handmade signs) don’t have prices written down. Customers must simply inquire about the cost (and of course, who is asking may or may not affect the price).

2) Most small items that are pre-packaged, processed, or manufactured have their prices printed directly on them (or on a sticker by the manufacture or importer). And since the price is already printed on the product, the shop feels no need to announce the price any further or more clearly, i.e. with tags or signs on the shelves.

3) Larger and more expensive products come from nicer or fancier shops, so they will almost always have their prices printed using actual typefaces (although probably without a matching ₹ symbol). They may or may not be directly on the packing, but it’s more likely there will be shelf tags and signs to indicate the price. (There are exceptions that fall into the first example – e.g. furniture shops that shows no prices, you must enquire about each item.)

* This idea is probably also related to the disappearance of hand-painted signs. Printed signs are considered more professional, no matter the quality, so places with printed signs are generally more expensive than those with painted ones (ironically, printed signs are often cheaper to produce than hand painted!)

There are certainly exceptions to these generalizations and I will try to track down counter examples. It should also be possible to find shops and markets that write rupee symbols by hand (but at least is Mumbai where I spend most of my time, it’s very uncommon – other cities may be different).

The first two images show some signs for food items, but without any prices.
The next four give prices along with the products, but they only list a number and give no indication of the currency.

The next four show variations of a very common treatment: the price like: 99/- or 99/. (Yes, that third image is from 2013 and it does indeed show a used book store in Pune actually trying to sell a 2006 Ikea catalog for 225₹ = €3.20 / $3.50).
The 5th image tries hard with the design-y variation: 699/*
On the receipt in the final image, they write no currency symbol, but there is a very minuscule Rs. printed in 4 or 5 points at the top of the price column.

These images show how prices are often printed directly onto packaged products. Usually too, they only say Rs. and don’t even contain the ₹ symbol.

This collection shows typical examples of printed ₹. There are occasionally good examples of symbols that match the weight or style of the numpers in the price, but more often it’s a generic symbol that doesn’t even try to match the scale or proportions whatsoever. I believe this is the result of laziness and simply not caring. Since most fonts in use do not contain rupee symbols, it’s too much to ask these DTP operators to carefully select or modify a ₹ symbol to nicely match. This will slowly change as newer, more modern fonts get in circulation. It’s already visible with bigger brands and ad campaigns, but this hasn’t trickled down yet to locally produced graphics.
I’ll make another post about these Škoda ads, once I can find another image that’s currently eluding me.

The last image shows a pricing/tag gun sticker with a ₹ pre-printed. I had another (very terrible) photo of one with an actual ₹ glyph that gets stamped with the price (meaning not pre-printed on the paper), but I set it aside because it was so poor quality and now now I can’t find it… I will try to get another because I find this quite interesting.

Finally, this is the single image I happen to have of a hand-drawn rupee sign. It was made on a chalk board in Goa – it’s advertising a pint of Kingfisher beer for 35₹ (€.49 or $.54)(and you wonder why Goa is a popular destination…) (compare that to the 4 pints for 699/* special shown above = 175₹/pint).

I will go out and try to find more examples of handwritten ₹ symbols soon! When I find more, I’ll update them here.

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Beer Can Typography
30 October, 2014

These images come courtesy of the tasting room at the Harpoon Brewery in Boston, Massachusetts. In the middle of a tour of the facilities, guests are invited to sample as much beer as they can drink in 20 minutes. They really kept us busy sampling, so most others there probably don’t notice the massive collection of beer cans lining the back wall. When they announced it was time to exit and finish the tour, I straggled behind a few seconds to capture some of the most interesting/obscure cans.

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utterly butterly delicious!
19 March, 2014

utterly butterly delicious!

View in Instagram

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The Museum of Things: 2012 Edition
6 December, 2012

The Museum der Dinge is my favorite museum in Berlin… there’re always new treasures to discover here.

Sorry about the bad quality iPhone pics, but it was a spontaneous trip and I didn’t have a real camera… Now you’ll just have to go yourself and take better pictures of your own!

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Museum of Things #2 [UPDATED]
21 November, 2009

Just a few more images from Berlin’s ultra-cool Museum of Things!

You can also see more great objects from the museum in this previous post.


You can also help out the museum by becoming a Dingpfleger (a caretaker/sponsor of a thing). For a small donation you can adopt one of their objects! For more information and to learn about becoming a Dingpfleger(in) have a look here (German).

Check out what we are sponsoring for 2010!
(And thanks to Dan Reynolds for the quote!)(Even if it maybe, possibly, came with the tiniest bit of sarcasm.)

The “Vesper” Bahlsen Keksdose from 1923 over at the Museum der Dinge’s website

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The Museum of Things ⇒ WOW
6 September, 2009

Oh my god Becky, seriously the Museum of Things (Museum der Dinge) is like totally the most raddest place in Berlin. If you thought the DDR Museum had some cool old stuff, then you will be blown away by all the junk at this place. It is a cross between a natural history museum, the Smithsonian, your grandma’s house, a garage sale, and a dump. It has an extensive collection of “things” from the 1800s through today – roughly sorted chronologically and also a bit categorically.

Its stockpile of ephemeral, everyday objects is amazing. Typoholics will find hours of pleasure simply staring at all the old logos and packaging. I ended up taking about 150 photos while managing to convince my friends I am nuts because of how overly excited I was.

For those of you who are maybe not impressed with *just* nice old type and objects, the museum has more attractions. There are also some big, powerful, loud, Mythbusteresque machines that smash, chop, stomp, and roll/crush/flatten. Visitors are invited to use the hydraulic beasts to annihilate some miscellaneous bric-a-brac. Mechanical thumps, shattering, screaming, and laughing can be heard echoing throughout the museum.

It is a great place. Plus there is a gift shop with some nice designer objects and some other old crap you can buy too!

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Vintage German Design & Lettering
15 May, 2009

Following up to the popular GDR packaging/branding post, I present here 20 more great vintage specimens.

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Everyday Branding in the GDR
23 April, 2009

Commonly referred to as East Germany, the former German Democratic Republic existed from 1949-1990. During that period, a significant portion of Germany was virtually cut off from the rest of the world (at least from Capitalist societies). So what exactly was it like for those living behind the infamous wall?

Anyone interested in learning more about the GDR needs simply to check out the fascinating DDR Museum in Berlin. Visitors can interactively experience aspects of what life was like during that time through multi-media displays and many hands-on items. They illustrate everything from the education system to the Stasi to how people spent vacations. There are numerous samples of everyday items such as food and toiletry goods, clothes, and toys. The major headliners of the museum are the fully reconstructed kitchen & living room from a quintessential apartment and one of the famous Trabant cars. Both of those exhibits you can explore and play in.

However, of primary interest for all of us here are some superb typographic specimens! These typical* East German household objects have often been adorned with gorgeous lettering. The museum has much more to see and admire, these here are just a taste.

Next time you are in Berlin consider an excursion to check out a bit of former East German (life)style.

*Not all of these are necessarily “typical” items but could still be found (somewhere) in the GDR.

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Bright, Loud, & Scary
27 January, 2009

The packaging of these fireworks are definitely as bright, loud, and scary as the pyrotechnics that they spit out. Exploded cases like these could be found all over Berlin on Jan 1st. Depending on how nice your neighborhood you live in determines how long you can enjoy this typographic litter confetting your street. Lucky for us, these hung around for several weeks!

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