Cooper Union Typography

All about Typography, well, mostly about Typography.


I came across a really interesting series of books on typefaces/lettering in two different places online recently and decided to investigate further. The four-volume series was called Lettera, A standard book of fine lettering, written or, perhaps more precisely, curated by Armin Haab (with Alex Stocker for volume 1 and with Walter Haettenschweiler for volumes 2, 3 and 4), and published in Switzerland by Arthur Niggli. (Arthur Niggli published and continues to publish great books on typography by Karl Gerstner, Gerard Unger, Adrian Frutiger, Armin Hofmann, Josef Müller-Brockmann and Jost Hochuli among others). The first volume is in its 9th edition, the first being in 1954. The books are a curious collection of examples of a wide range of typographic styles, with a heavy leaning towards lettering. Still, the mix of examples is hard to justify in the groupings that they are in. But, perhaps not having seen a copy in real life one shouldn’t judge; and the individual examples are rather fascinating regardless of order or context.

As author of the project Armin Haab seems to be an interesting personality, but it is hard to trace his history. Perhaps someone can fill us in on his biography. There is an example of his photography online, as well as a book of ethnographic photographs of Bhutan, and a book on Mexican Graphic Art by him. Born in Baar, Switzerland on 28 of January in 1919, Armin studied photography in Switzerland in the 1940s and combined a job of a salesman in the family-run mill and of a photographer. He was a photo-reporter for Du Magazine from 1950 to 1957. Haab passed away on March 4, 1991 in Oberwil, Switzerland. Would love to find out more on how these books came about and more about Armin Haab.

A few images from the books:

Above, L&C Hairline by Herb Lubalin and Tom Carnase. More on this typeface in another post.

All images above are from Opera78 and Justin Thomas Kay’s blogs; for more images check out their posts.

Information and Image Sources / References / Further Reading:

  1. Images from Volume 1 of Lettera
  2. Images from volumes 3 & 4 of Lettera
  3. Copies of Lettera for sale
  4. Copies of Lettera for sale at Verlag Niggli (scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page)
  5. Another place to buy the 4 volumes
  6. Photo and short bio of Haab (in German)
  7. A photography book by Haab
  8. A page from Lettera on Flickr

Filed under: Books, Reference, Typefaces, Typography

3 Responses

  1. Kelly says:

    I just came across your blog and I am really enjoying it! Keep up the good work! I am going to share this particular post on my own blog because I find it very interesting and I am always looking for interesting things out in the world!

  2. Rokas says:

    Hay, i’m wondering were I could thind these wonderfull Lettera books to buy? Or is it possible to buy new or used books? 🙂

    • Sasha says:

      The links above, in the Info section (right below the article) list some places where you can buy these books. Most (if not all) are used as the books are not that new…

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