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James Clough: Italian Signs / 1

Lazy Dog is reposting a series of all the articles written by James Clough, about Italian signs, for Robinson – la Repubblica. These texts extend his 20-year research published in the volume Signs of Italy. James Clough is a typography historian focused on history of signs.

Torrefazione Caffè

In order to really appreciate the letters, we show only part of the sign of this historic shop in Modena. Looking at the word “Caffè“ we can enjoy the cheerful, eye-catching movement of that cursive, which is the same for the missing word, “Torrefazione.“ The teaching of handwriting is quite shabby in schools today, and fewer and fewer young people are able to write decently.

No one except calligraphers – a tribe gathering more and more followers of all ages – would ever be able to write with a swinging rhythm like this. Although these letters are drawn and not written, they come across as absolutely spontaneous in gesture and freshness. They are subtle and threadlike, but their delicacy is amply reinforced by their black outline and, much more, by the good idea of deep red shadows.

Insegna a Modena: "Caffè"
Credit: Bunker

The owner, Mrs. Alessandra Pedrazzi, relates that the store was opened in 1904 and that her father bought it in 1968. The sign dates back to the mid-1950s and, like at least two others that still exist in the Modena area, this Italian signs are signed Vetreria Marisaldi Modena.

Location: Modena
Address: Via Albinelli 9
Technique: painting on glass
Writing: cursive with hairline and shadow
Year: around 1955

Originally published by Robinson («la Repubblica») on May 15, 2017.
Courtesy of James Clough.


James Clough is a London-based calligrapher and scholar. Check his Bio.