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The book I am currently working on is called Type Town, which, as the title suggests, looks at the typography of my surroundings. When I first started planning it I knew that the signage and street art in my neighbourhood was rich with possibility, but during the last few months of closer scrutiny it has proved to be even more interesting and engaging that I originally anticipated. These beautiful numbers are from a boarded up butcher’s shop window in Rozelle.

673

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Wrought iron is a tough and malleable iron alloy, and over time has been used to make swords, cutlery, axes, garden furniture, rails, rivets, nails, nuts, bolts, horseshoes, decorative ironwork—to name but a handful of a huge array of items. These days, things that look like wrought iron, like this curly number, are more likely made of mild steel, but retain the name ‘wrought’ iron because they are worked by hand. This olde worlde style is not generally something I particularly warm to, but in this instance I was drawn to the shape of the numbers, particularly the spirally 6 and 3.

The number 6

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I’ll just come right out and admit it: I’m a sucker for Sesame Street. I went to the gym mid-morning today, and all the treadmills and cross-trainers had their tv screens tuned to Sesame Street, proudly brought to us today by Big Bird and the number 6. Six goldfish, six meatballs on a bed of spaghetti, six singing blackbird puppets: who could ask for more! Sesame Street is imaginative, entertaining and heartwarming. All that, and you can learn to count, too. The number 6 here is Univers Extra Black and the bird is from the Wiesbaden Swing dingbat set.

1936

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This 1936 is a little out of the ordinary. I like its hand-drawn qualities—the variation in the thickness of the strokes, the way the tapering 1 works with the stylised 9 so that together they have a design aesthetic while still being legible.

1927

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This is a satisfyingly eccentric yet understated 1927. The ball terminals on the 9 and 2 bring to mind quotation marks, and the swell and kick of the 2’s horizontal stroke make it quite swan-like. In fact the whole thing is rather graceful and lighthearted. The numbers are not overly ornate yet they exude a great deal of character.

Green post

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Narooma is a seaside town located on the south coast of New South Wales. The name derives from the Aboriginal word meaning ‘clear blue waters’. The waters may certainly be clear blue, but so is the sky, making this green post on the harbour breakwater—with its motley collection of numbers that look like they were sourced from the local hardware store—stand out bright and sharp in the strong afternoon light. I have a particular fondness for Narooma. When I was about eight years old, on a summer holiday road trip, my parents were unable to find accommodation, so we opted for a quiet stretch of beachside parking and set up makeshift camp, me in the open boot of the car. When we woke, the previously deserted area was chock full of surfers and early morning swimmers, no doubt experiencing the clear blue waters for themselves.