“No one person ever invented an alphabet,” wrote Type-maven Tommy Thompson. Script typefaces were no exception. During the letterpress era they were in such great demand that many people “invented” them, and many others copied them. In some commercial printing shops, composing cases filled with scripts were stacked floor to ceiling to the exclusion of other type. Printers routinely amassed multiple styles of the heavy metal type fonts, each possessing a distinct twist, flourish or quirk, used to inject the hint of personality or dash of character to quotidian printed pieces. Fonts had names like Wedding Plate Script, Cursive Script, Engravers Script, Bank Script, Master Script, French Script, Stationers Semiscript and Myrtle Script — Myrtle? — there were countless others. They surfaced in Europe and America. And the exact same types in France, for example, could be found in Italian foundries with different names.
Scripts signaled propriety, suggested authority yet also exuded status and a bourgeois aesthetic. The wealthy classes couldn’t get enough fashionable scripts in their diet. Likewise, the nouveau riche embraced them too — maybe it helped them to appear even more wealthy.
Seen in everything from wedding invitations and birth announcements to IOUs, menus, and diplomas, script typefaces impart elegance and sophistication to a broad variety of texts. Scripts never go out of style, and the hundreds of inventive examples here are sure to inspire today’s designers. Derived from handwriting, these are typefaces that are stylized to suggest, imply, or symbolize certain traits linked to writing. Their fundamental characteristic is that all the letters, more or less, touch those before and after. Drawn from the Golden Age of scripts, from the nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century, this is the first compilation of popular, rare, and forgotten scripts from the United States, Germany, France, England, and Italy. Featuring examples from a vast spectrum of sources—advertisements, street signs, type-specimen books, and personal letters—this book is a delightful and invaluable trove of longoverlooked material. 275 illustrations, 254 in color