Edward Johnston’s diamond-shaped “tittle” and the origins of a classic typeface design

An antique Transport for London poster with advice on how to get to Wimbledon (prominently using the Johnston typeface).
An antique Transport for London poster with advice on how to get to Wimbledon (prominently using the Johnston typeface).

In London’s central Piccadilly Circus shopping and entertainment district, giant electronic hoardings encircle a statue of Eros that treads one-footed upon a fountain. An ever-flowing river of pedestrians, spilling out of shops and restaurants, circumambulates the fountain’s platform. The fountain is raised by a hexagonal rise of steps. Tourists and shoppers often sit on the steps and watch performances by street artists. Below wheels and feet at street level lies the main concourse of the Piccadilly Circus underground station.

A small segment of this circular concourse is dedicated to a man named Frank Pick.


Hint: His favourite genre were German YA cowboy novels

Hitler’s racial supremacist world-view had many powerful sympathisers beyond Germany, especially in America and England.

Hitler loved cars and deeply admired Henry Ford. This was because Ford was not just an immensely popular industrialist, escaped from an Ayn Rand novel, but also a legendary anti-semite. Adolf Hitler prominently displayed a portrait of Henry Ford in his Munich office, and owned several copies of Ford’s The International Jew. Hitler was taken by Ford’s assertion that the industrialised nation most at threat from Jewish conspiracy, apart from the United States, was Germany.

Timothy Ryback’s Hitler’s Private Library: The Books That Shaped His…


Relax. David Hockney can draw.

The drawing that Hockey did for the Piccadilly Circus tube station. It is yellow and purple, and the final S is not aligned, and looks like it is falling off.
The drawing that Hockey did for the Piccadilly Circus tube station. It is yellow and purple, and the final S is not aligned, and looks like it is falling off.

Let me simplify this for you: it’s called naive art (ordinarily, this term refers to art made by people without formal training).

Yes, I know you have an opinion. I mean who could deny you one? Yes, it counts. No, I’m not being sarcastic. Okay, a little. Yes. You do have the complete right to believe that this kind of art is complete bollocks. Wait, can I finish? This my Medium story…okay. Fine. Please do go ahead. Yes. I do get that you are formally trained in..er.. design. Yes. Retro is very cool. Yes, “emerging artists” deserve opportunity but an…


Why politicians use multiple pens to sign landmark documents

Ready… Set… Pen.

Watching Joe Biden getting ready to dismantle some of Donald Trump’s most odious executive orders in his first day in office as the 46th President of the United States of America, I was a bit baffled. Every time he signed a new folder, he reached for a box of pens before him, and used a new one.

Now, I’d heard that David Beckham, for instance, never wore a pair of sneakers twice because he got truckloads of them from adidas. Was Joe Biden the David Beckham of pens?

Upon a quick, geeky Google, I discovered that this was not a…


Maggi Hambling’s tribute to Mary Wollstonecraft lit up a bleak winter with some social media pyrotechnics

One morning in November 1924, readers perusing their Morning Post (one assumes served by a butler, crisply-ironed on a tray with their bed-tea) were informed of a grievance in the form of a public letter.

The signatories demanded the removal of the newly unveiled sculpture in Hyde Park with as little delay as possible. The letter was signed by several public-spirited individuals who saw themselves as guardians of proper English morality. They included Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, and Her Highness, the Ranee Margaret of Sarawak.

The offending piece of art was Jacob Epstein’s Rima. The…


Adrian Tomine returns with evolved art, humour like a razor and an eclectic mix of narcissism and self-loathing

The Moleskine diary is one of those weird, sacred must-have accessories for writers and creatives. Personally, I no longer use the books, preferring to use cheaper and more customisable Muji B5 notebooks — yes, yes, we do love our rituals — but I did have a phase in my ‘career’ as a writer where I carted a Moleskine everywhere, jotting down notes in book launch talks and noting down inspirations on the bus (none of it has ever earned me a dollar directly). …


Nike has shaken up a sport that was almost unchanged from the dawn of human civilisation

(Source: https://kottke.org/18/04/alan-turing-was-an-excellent-runner)

Alan Mathison Turing (1912–1954) is often referred to as the father of modern computing. As digital technology becomes the central fulcrum of global culture and commerce, Turing is treated as a modern Prometheus, and his fame is only increasing. His death, as dramatised in the Benedict Cumberbatch starring The Imitation Game is attributed to being persecuted and chemically-castrated for being homosexual (though some reports suggest it was an experiment with electricity to electro-plate a spoon with gold gone wrong; it is possible that the hormones he was forcefully injected with as part of his criminal sentence impaired his judgement).

Computers…


Quentin Tarantino cannot hide behind artistic freedom to disguise how basic his sense of aesthetics is

As a thick-accented, returning citizen from Hong Kong, Bruce Lee found his path to American television and film barred by experts and advisers. Despite Lee’s demonstrable on-screen charisma, proven popularity with audiences (after outshining the lead as Kato in The Green Hornet and other bit appearances in Marlowe and The Wrecking Crew), executives kept inventing reasons for why audiences would never accept him as a lead actor in an American movie or television show.

Whether one speaks of Steve McQueen, James Coburn, or the man who would be handed Lee’s intellectual property on a platter, David Carradine — a mop…


Jordan Mechner’s memoirs document how some of the greatest electronic games of all time came to be published

Title screen

Half-way through reading Mechner’s Prince of Persia diary, I had to put it down. I powered up my rarely used, almost vintage Nintendo 3DS and looked for the game on the online store. To my delight, there was a ported version of the classic original available for download. I purchased it immediately (the same way I bought the two diaries for Kindle the moment I knew they existed and binge read them). And, man, does it still play well.

A classic will always be a classic

Classics, whether Greek mythology, movies, fashion, cars or computer games, are classics. They work…


Red triangles were meant to designate political dissidents in Germany’s concentration camps

By Adam Jones, Ph.D. — Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22142320

Facebook has banned an advertisement for Donald Trump’s campaign to designate “Antifa” as a terrorist organisation. The BBC reports:

Facebook says it has removed adverts for US President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign that featured a symbol used in Nazi Germany. The company said the offending ad contained an inverted red triangle similar to that used by the Nazis to label opponents such as communists.

This is certainly an interesting development. When Twitter first started adding notifications to Trump’s more politically misleading tweets, Mark Zuckerberg disagreed with such editorial policy on social media. …

Neel Dozome

I write about type history and books culture, with a particular interest in graphic novels. Can almost do a hand stand.

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