Lersch This monoline script graces the building that used to house the family business Lersch, a real estate agency that folded in 1998. Apparently the current owners either like it or couldn’t bother to tear it down, because 14 years later the shopfront sign still hangs high as a reminder of days gone by. It is one of the landmarks of the Bevrijdingslaan, an important traffic artery in the Brugse Poort. The three-dimensional lettering is quite massive, with adequately robust letter forms. The character shapes are a little awkward: the ‘r’ is comparatively too wide and the capital ‘L’ looks unbalanced, yet this only adds to its charm. See the Monolinear Casual Scripts FontList.
Résidence «Géry» This modest apartment building was erected around 1940 along what is now Ghent’s inner ring road (“beltway” for our American friends). It was designed by architect Emile de Nil (1902–1982), who together with his son Jean De Nil (1932) would build numerous – and larger – apartment buildings in Ghent from the 1950s on. In the early 2000s the run-down façade of Résidence «Géry» was restored to its former glory. The Art Deco-style stucco lettering in sturdy geometric display capitals, which is beautifully integrated in the architecture, is its main trump. The design has some quirks: although some letters include curves, the ‘S’ is drawn exclusively with straight lines on perpendicular angles, and the ‘I’ in the all-caps lettering is dotted. The seemingly gratuitous guillemets add an unintended touch of irony. This glorious example of architectural lettering is a forceful statement rarely seen in Ghent, except in Trianon Residence which I will include a future instalment. See the Art Deco FontList.
Modes More gorgeous Art Deco capitals integrated in the wall above the window of a corner house. “Modes”, the French word for “fashion” in plural, means this most probably once was a fashion store. The lettering style is reminiscent of Font Bureau’s Brok, which appeared in 1925 as powerful characters in a magnificent portrait poster cut in wood by Chris Lebeau for the Willem Brok Gallery in Hilversum, Holland. Brok works its figure-ground magic when negative leading reduces the white stripes that separate lines to the slender size of those that separate letters, bringing out the dark and blocky shapes.
In Den Hemel - D’Haeve Frères, Ingénieurs 1906 At the beginning of the 20th century a number of unhealthy old residential areas were redeveloped, which gave birth to typical streets with a middle-class character built in Art Nouveau style. Some architects like the D’Havé brothers were experimenting with concrete frame construction. The corner house In Den Hemel, erected in 1905–1906 and currently a bar that also organises concerts, is an example of this building technique. Because the house is listed as architectural patrimony of Ghent the Art Nouveau inscription in the concrete still is the original lettering. Fun trivia – the Americana band Grand Theft which I recently joined is playing its second gig with our amazing violin player in In Den Hemel on November 23rd. See the Art Nouveau FontList.
Marin Braeckman, Arch. Gand. 1933 While I was taking a picture of this wonderful Art Deco signature of the architect who designed this house, the current owner arrived home and told me Marin Braeckman actually was his grand-father’s brother. Braeckman also built the protected G. Naeyaert home in Ghent’s “Million Quarter”. It’s a little peculiar how the extremely bold geometric numerals don’t seem to match the compact square letter forms stylistically. See also the Extra Bold: Extreme FontList.
Au Bon Marché It’s a real shame the mosaic at the doorstep of a clothes shop is so run-down, because it features some exquisite letters. Note the raised lowercase in ‘Bon’, the novel solution for the – frankly very narrow – ‘M’ and the refined acute accent in ‘Marché’. The generic French shop name ‘Au Bon Marché’ roughly translates as ‘at the good deal’, meaning this was a shop that boasted to have a good price/quality relationship for its wares.
Architecte: Franz Vandersmissen I was surprised when I discovered this architect’s signature as I find it unusual – this type of script/italic sans seems inappropriate for engraving in stone. Furthermore architects commonly prefer more… I don’t know, ‘architectural’ alphabets. Even the Art Deco sans serif caps look wispy in this setting.
Fonderie Cupro - Metaux Non Ferreux 1 Ghent has an industrial history, and vestiges of this past are still strewn throughout the city. These range from actual factory buildings that are either derelict or turned into trendy lofts, to old signs that still hang on outside walls of these former industrial buildings. This sign for the former melting plant for non-ferrous metals ‘Fonderie Cupro’ – ‘cupro’ refers to copper – has strictly square letter forms that remind me of license plate alphabets. Their apparent monospaced nature (the ‘I’ is proportional) makes for a very tight ‘M’, ‘N’ and ‘X’, and an ocean of space around the ‘T’. See the Monospaced and Square Sans Serif FontList.
Katholieke School, 1909 This entrance reminds of the days that these buildings were a Catholic all-girls school (later mixed). It leads to the former playground, which two years ago became the Pierkespark, a small park created to inject some much-needed oxygen in the popular neighbourhood. The classic serif letters raised in the stone are very accomplished, and the proportions in this architectural composition are well-balanced.
De Ster / Café du Commerce Unlike the ‘Au Bon Marché’ mosaic at the doorstep of the clothes shop mentioned above, which simply hasn’t been cared for properly, this one was treated with appallingly little respect. The lovely vintage mosaic sign above the window of the former bar ‘Café du Commerce’ was over-painted after the lettering for the new name of the business ‘De Ster’ (The Star) had been applied. When these letters were removed after De Ster went out of business, this created a bizarre double image where the original mosaic letters can be clearly seen within the bold Helvetica ghost shapes. I wish the current owners of the house would remove the white paint and restore this beauty to its former glory. See the Titling: Glyphic and Helvetica Alternatives FontLists.
H. Cortade Returning to my car from taking the previous photograph, I passed this gorgeous old-style name-plate affixed next to a front door. You simply can’t beat gold-leaf Art Deco lettering on a vintage black plastic.
Majolica - 43, rue de Destelbergen, Mont-St-Amand-les-Gand I almost walked past this beauty without noticing it. The Art Deco lettering with a striking triangular ‘A’ is found on a single one of the tiles covering the outside walls of a corner house. The tile identifying the factory that manufactured them can be seen as a form of advertising, more than a signature. Yet interestingly the name of the tile factory is not mentioned, only the product. Majolica is a local name for tin-glazed pottery - pottery covered in glaze containing tin oxide which is white, shiny and opaque. The name of the Ghent suburb Sint-Amandsberg is written in French, the business and trade language of Gent up until the mid-1900s; the addition of ‘les-Gand’ makes it sound like the name of a sea resort.
Vooruit The cultural centre ‘Vooruit’ – ‘Forward’ in Dutch – is an architectural landmark in Ghent, fascinating because of its eclectic style with a hint of Art Nouveau. Ferdinand Dierkens, the architect, mixed several architectural genres and used the newest techniques at the time. In a way, this was the starting point for the eclecticism of the Vooruit Arts Centre, for which it is renowned nationally and internationally. Both side walls have the name ‘Vooruit’ spelled out in letters made up of coloured bricks; this is the South wall. The bricks create jagged verticals that give an almost woven effect to the letters.
Fd. Dierkens . Gent — Bouwmeester — 1914 And this is the architect’s signature next to one of the main entrances. The monoline Latin serif face features some idiosyncratic details, like the horizontal serifs on the stroke endings of the ‘S’, the flipped ‘W’ for an ‘M’ (or is it the other way around?), and an insane ‘1914’ ligature-like composition of the date.
Refuge de Marie - Toevlucht van Maria - 1894 The French name ‘Refuge de Marie’ for this retirement home has since long been changed to the Dutch version ‘Toevlucht van Maria’, but most people in Ghent still refer to ‘the Refuge’. The letters, carved in stone in the façade, are a kind of cross between a didone with sturdy hairlines and serifs, and a high-contrast Broadway display face – pretty advanced for 1894. I couldn’t help but notice that according to typographic logic the ‘M’ has an inverted stress.
Anker Naaimachines When starting this series I decided not to include any brand names, but this combination is too sweet to pass up. The connected geometric script of the ‘Anker’ logo, worthy of a fifties automobile or kitchen appliance, is matched by the perfectly streamlined ‘Naaimachines’ (‘Sewing machines’ in Dutch) above the shopwindow below. Anker’s origins can be traced to Germany as far as the middle of the 19th century, when Carl Schmidt and Nickolaus Durkopp founded a partnership to manufacture sewing machines in 1867. See the Connected Chrome Scripts FontList.
Joski & Dauge - Gand Another one that I almost missed, coming back from a visit to the bank. Joski & Dauge was a company dealing in heating installations, radiators, ventilation systems and so on, operating in the mid-20th century. The way the sunlight hits the copper inlet, creating the stark shadows, and how it brings out the vertical texture of the surrounding is beautiful. The lettering is very charming – letters with sharp triangular serifs for the company name and a sturdy Clarendon for ‘Gand’ (French for Ghent). The weight of the characters is a little inconsistent, but I couldn’t care less. I love the little serif at the beginning of the curve of the ‘J’, and the weird slanted shape of the ‘A’. Not sure about that misshapen ampersand, but overall I love this.
FontPuss Although it may look like it, these photographs were not staged. One morning I interrupted my Font Identification and Type Research work that I started right after breakfast for a quick shower, and when I came back to it I found Lucy using the FontBook as a headrest. I was looking for a script sent to us by a German FontShop customer – on first impression I thought it might be Bickley Script, but it turned out to be Alejandro Paul’s Suave Script. Lucy was no help; thanks for nothing… All she was interested in were Pillowy Soft Scripts to lay her head on.
Ministerie van Financiën - Administratie van het Kadaster The Ministry of Finances - Administration of the Cadastre has moved, but the plaque still hangs next to the entrance of the corner house it used to be located in. Some of the character shapes are just marvellous. That pot-bellied ‘R’! That timid leg on the ‘K’! That fast-running ‘S’! Those dangerously sharp ‘A’, ‘M’, ‘N’ and ‘V’! It’s just a shame ‘VAN’ is poorly kerned. Twice.
Splendid Indeed, this name of one of the many residences along the South Park is a possible candidate for Niels Shoe Meulman’s entertaining collection of upside-down Ns. Theoretically this could have been designed to look like this, but I find that highly doubtful. As the letters are three-dimensional, executed in gold-coloured plastic (or was it metal?), I think it is more likely that the person responsible for this inadvertently rotated the capital ‘N’ when glueing the letters to the glass door. As for the typeface: the serifs on the ‘S’ and that ‘N’ are quite peculiar, so I think this may be lettering. Correct me if I am wrong! :)
Openbare Stadsbibliotheek And to finish this October collection a little nostalgia. This was the location of the Ghent public city library when I first started loaning books at a very early age. I am pretty certain these letters are actually type, but I couldn’t identify the typeface. The building has been derelict for years, and has been put up for sale very recently. This means this lovely lettering above the columns will soon vanish in the mists of time…
07.11.2012 - 17.55.15
Posted by Unzipper
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