Seat of knowledge


Two weeks in an enclosed airconditioned environment, with the usual handful of snifflers and coughers. Mix it up with the lunchtime throng of sneezers in the shopping centre across the road. Yet I survived unscathed, patting myself on the back for maintaining excellent health! Then, on the weekend, I dropped by the travel agency, and in the split second that I let my immune guard down, I knew (too late) I would be leaving with more than the flight information I had been seeking. If only I had stopped a moment, when I had the chance, at this seaside surf club seat of knowledge: perhaps I would have learnt the cure for the common cold.

Neon P


I can hardly bring myself to admit it, but I fear that this establishment has become a shadow of its former self. It was more than a cafe: it was an institution. A trip to Melbourne did not go by without calling in at least once for what was guaranteed to be the best coffee and the best spaghetti marinara in that fine city. Sadly, on my last visit, I was bitterly disappointed on both counts. However the neon lettering in the side laneway remains as character-filled as ever—no pun intended—so perhaps I will be enticed in once again, just for old times’ sake.



You never see butchers touting themselves as ordinary or run-of-the-mill. Prime cuts, superior grade, blue-ribbon, choice, select, A1 and quality are the usual descriptors. This butcher is Armidale is no exception. The lettering is confident, friendly and inviting, reassuring shoppers that quality is not intimidating or likely to break the bank.



I didn’t win the lottery this week so I won’t be buying any diamonds from this fine establishment. It’s free to admire the lettering, though. How modern it must have been at the time! A close look reveals a somewhat strange drop shadow, but the inaccuracies only add to the appeal.

Young and Jackson


The Young & Jackson is a heritage-listed pub, on the corner of Flinders and Swanston streets in Melbourne, named for the Irish diggers who purchased the lease on the Princes Bridge Hotel, as it was previously called, in 1875. The pub is known for the infamous Chloe painting, by Jules Joseph Lefebvre, a life-size nude that first hung in the National Gallery of Victoria for three weeks in 1883, but created such an uproar when it was exhibited on Sundays that it was withdrawn from exhibition. It was bought for the pub in 1908 for £800 and hung in the saloon bar. The building prominently displays both pub names in large, gold-painted sans serif relief, but I like this side entrance where the name appears a little more decoratively and the reflection of Flinders Street Station can be seen in the windows.

The Beatles


The Beatles logo is one of the most universally recognised pieces of lettering, and first appeared on Ringo Starr’s drum kit in 1963. It was designed by Ivor Arbiter, who ran Drum City, London’s first drums-only store, as part of the payment negotiation for Ringo’s new Ludwig drum kit. Arbiter made a rough sketch on a scrap of paper, and was paid £5 for arranging the artwork, which was painted onto the drum head by local signwriter Eddie Stokes. The capital B and dropped T were intended to emphasise the word beat. While there is nothing typographically sophisticated, or even particularly interesting, about The Beatles logo, the power of typography is such that it endures in its ability to evoke memory and emotion. Yesterday marked the fiftieth anniversary of The Beatles’ first arrival in America, and tomorrow marks the fiftieth anniversary of their appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. The typeface has been digitised as ‘Bootle’.



I’m pretty certain the letters POL are missing from the left hand side of this window work of art, but the vacant and run-down building gave no other tangible clues to indicate whether it was once the police station in reality or just in my imagination. I like the gaffer tape covering a crack in the glass, the cobwebs and the imperfections and reflections, and I particularly like the drawn embellishments around the letters — the white sort-of-outline and the blue sort-of-shadow — and that the pane of glass really does look like it has been frozen.



I love the springiness of this script. It sits so neatly on the baseline — the r and tidy and straight and the curves of the e and a sitting exactly right. The kerning is less even, and that’s what gives it such personality. The m appears to be pulling away from the a, stretching the line that links them. Or perhaps the m has tugged and then let go, causing a rebound that has the e crashing back into the r and forcing the loop upwards. I can’t decide if the C wants no part of it and has detached itself on purpose or if it couldn’t keep up with the wilful forward movement of the m.

Bowling Club


My ukulele club holds its meetings here, at the Gladstone Park bowlo, twice a month. It’s a good spot – close to the main street but tucked away at the edge of the park – and when you sit outside enjoying a beer and just about the best fish and chips in town, the view across the bowling lawn and park transports you from the hustle and bustle of the city to the quiet of a country town. The board on the wall inside is a bonus. I am particularly taken with the expressive uppercase B and C, and there is just enough unevenness in the handpainted script to convey more personality that an out-of-the-box typeface would have done.



Boomerang was designed in 1926 by Neville Hampson for music publisher Frank Albert. Every Sydneysider has heard of Boomerang – whether for its distinctive Spanish mission-style architecture, its use as a backdrop for Hollywood movies, its heritage status, or its place as one of the most expensive pieces of real estate in Sydney. The Boomerang nameplate comes from the masthead of the Boomerang Songster booklets, which were produced by J Albert & Son in the early 1900s.