Country town signs and lettering

January ’10 brought with it the highly-anticipated, fourth annual Broulee Coast Trip – a pilgrimage to the small coastal town 20 kilometres south of Batemans Bay on the New South Wales ‘South Coast’. Armed with alcohol, money for alcohol, swimwear and high spirits (the non-alcoholic kind), I piled into a car with my closest compatriots, and with 3 certainties in mind:

  1. We would pass through the small town of Braidwood, NSW.
  2. There would be copious amounts of drinking and revelry.
  3. Hangovers were likely to follow.

While I knew that #2 and #3 would leave me with very little time – or coordination – with which to create content for my weekly blog post, I was determined to make the most of #1.

Braidwood, NSW, is a small town approximately 85 kilometres from Canberra; its park and bakery have featured in every New South Wales coastal excursion in which I have participated. The town has a quaint, almost American-Western film ambiance lent to it by its various hand-painted store signs, dual-storey porches, wide roads and colonial colour palette.

Lettering like this is evident in most small towns around Australia (and arguably around the world), a style which of late is making a resurgence in modern typography and graphic design. Below are a few that particularly caught my eye.

Braidwood Deli Signage

Two fine examples of old-fashioned hand lettering

The leftmost sign shows an awesome crossbar on the upper E and F, though the weight contrast on the A combined with the low crossbar make it appear out of place.

On the right a calligraphic brush face is contrasted with a confident woodtype face. The subtle hints of serifs caught my eye, but the tail on the R strikes me as unusual and maybe even lovely – I am as yet undecided.

Braidwood National Theatre Sign

Slab serifs on the "National Theatre"

In stark contrast to the 1920′s wood-type (I think) style of lettering employed by the Braidwood Deli, the other side of the road sports another beautiful typographic exploit. Herb Lubalin’s slab serif “ITC Lubalin Demi” is given an authoritative, wide measure and offset with an interesting middle-dot. I’ve recently fallen in love with slab serif typefaces, so this could not go unmentioned.

** Sidenote: How “national” could this theatre actually be? Has it seen any performances that weren’t cooked up in the Braidwood backstreets?

As I mentioned, these styles are becoming more prevalent outside of the small towns in which they are most common – or maybe it’s just that I’m noticing it more. Whatever the reason, I fully support its resurgence – as far as I’m concerned, there can never be too many well-executed references to the forefathers of type.

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One Comment

  1. John O'Zilber
    Posted January 8, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    I hope you visited Hoola Hoop and enjoy that little store that just oozes style!

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