An interest in typography is often regarded as the designers version of train spotting. It has been levelled at myself on occasion, both in reproach and in jest, and I accept them both. There are others like me, I know. You may be one of them. There are also those who like to combine their typographic interests with other esoteric or just plain unfashionable obsessions.

Take this guy. Not only is he fascinated by the alphabet, but he has managed to combine it with another much maligned hobby – stamp collecting. His website contains a vast range of visual and factual information on all kinds of postal ephemera, but is crammed full of great little pieces of the kind of typography that often goes unnoticed by most.

There is some great information and information included – I particularly like some of the very understated wartime stamps, franks and postcards that aim to display their value and importance in their currency whilst creating the appearance of being  functional and austere:

There are some really beautiful typographic images that support the philatelic content. This Canadian postcard owns some undoubtably interesting stamps but it is the brutality of the type and the simplicity of the message that dominates:

There are some more modern examples too. I was drawn to this one featuring Alfred Hitchcock. Not fot the type surprisingly enough, but for the silhouette logo in the top left which was die-cut. A beautiful detail.

One the page of double issues – where sets of stamps are released simultaneously in two countries to commemorate important events and historic links – there are some interesting examples of where type, letterforms and language sit side-by-side for instant comparison. I enjoy seeing typographic translations; I like to see how a typeface translates not only into a different language, but also into entirely different scripts/letterforms/glyphs:

I’m not a collector of stamps. I just love lettering, especially when it’s very small. Or very large.  Stamps are a good source of typographic diversions. This site is unashamedly American. It does contain a lot of worldwide material, but this is largely restricted to the war years. I was disappointed not to find more modern examples, especially the northern European stamps of the last part of the twentieth century, like this one by Wim Crouwell:

You can’t have everything I suppose. There are a lot of great examples elswhere on the web that fill that gap and their links are at the end of this post.

As for me, I have just four stamps, bought because they are directly typographically related:


Now, my paltry collection of stamps may not be valuable or important (they aren’t) but I am happy to put them on the web in a useful size and quality. I can understand the reasons why collectors don’t want high-resolution images freely available, but it is frustrating for the typographically obsessed when most of the content is either tiny, re-appropriated (and probably poorer in quality as a result) or just plain crap. Come on people!

Kat Ran Press