Books lettering

City Lettering books

By looking back at my Rolling Bibliography I’ve noticed that there is no city in the world without its very own book about (vernacular) public lettering. Although this is an exaggeration, it can be said that there are more and more cities being the object of such kind of books. More often [graphic and type] designers, photographers, and the general public, dazzled by the amazingness of architectural and fascia letter that they encounter in their commuting, their daily running or the during the Sunday stroll, decide to photograph, record, and eventually publish what they see. I honestly welcome them all, it is wonderful having the opportunity to travel to Barcelona with América Sánchez, to Cork with Tom Spalding, or to Melbourne with Stephen Banham.

The books are as different as their authors, in this list we can find luxurious editions, beautifully printed; publications based on academic research, where the weight of the book falls on how and why the content was selected and the how research  was conducted and not so much in wonderful pictures; nostalgia books and personal books, based on the author’s experience (and not that much in knowledge); books with Encyclopedic aspirations, that are great city surveys, etc.

The [incomplete] list of books featuring public lettering from specific cities:

Amsterdam, The Nederlands

Espinoza, Ramiro & Becker, Rob (2015) Curly Letters of Amsterdam. Lecturis (Read a review by Yves Peters here)

Helle, Maarten (2008) Amsterdam in Letters. Valiz

Jacobs, Bas (2017) Safari Typo Amsterdam. Amsterdam: De Buitenkant (there was a presentation and the video, in English, can be seen here)

Safari Typo ! – Amsterdam (2017) Directed by Thomas Sipp. France: Arte France [Online]

Barcelona, Catalonia

Fili, Louise (2017) Gràfica de les Rambles. Princeton Architectural Press

Safari Typo ! – Barcelona (2017) Directed by Thomas Sipp. France: Arte France [Online]

Sánchez, América (2001) Barcelona Gráfica. Barcelona: Gustavo Gili, Barcelona

Satué, Enric (2001) El paisaje comercial de la ciudad: letras, formas y colores en la rotulación de comercios de Barcelona. Barcelona: Alianza Forma.

Ulrich Kehrer, Martin (2013) Stadtalphabet Barcelona.

Berlin, Germany

Gerlach, Verena (2013) Karbid Berlin – de la lettre peinte au caractère typographique. Paris: Ypsilon (Read a review by Yves Peters here)

Safari Typo ! – Berlin (2017) Directed by Thomas Sipp. France: Arte France [Online]

Bilbao, Spain

Atxaga, Koldo (2007) Los rótulos comerciales y otras gráficas urbanas. Bilbao: Bizkaiko Gaiak Temas Vizcaia

Brussels, Belgium

Van Steendam, Stan (2013) Brussels Type. Luster

Cork, Ireland

Spalding, Tom (2013) Layers. Associated Editions

Hamburg, Germany

Campe, Chris (2010) Projekttitel Hamburg Alphabet. Kunde Junius Verlag

Granada, Spain

Torres, Nano (2017) GarnataType. Tipografía y entorno urbano en Granada. Granada: Diputacion de Granada (The book was a special edition, not for sale. The project has a website, Garnata Type).

Le Havre, France

Boyer, Elodie (2012) Lettres du Havre. Éditions Non Standard


Safari Typo ! – Londres (2017) Directed by Thomas Sipp. France: Arte France [Online]

Madrid, Spain

Agromayor, Luis (1992) Tiendas de Madrid. Madrid: Susaeta ediciones

Agromayor, Luis (1991) Tabernas de Madrid. Madrid: Ed. Lunwerg [Discontinued]

Corazón, Alberto (1979) El sol sale para todos: un análisis de la iconografía comercial de Madrid. Madrid: Banco Urquijo

Lattes, Leandro (2003) Hasta fin de existencias / While stocks last. Madrid: Aldeasa

Lattes, Leandro (2004) Hasta fin de existencias 2 / While stocks last 2. Madrid: Aldeasa


Safari Typo ! – Marseille (2017) Directed by Thomas Sipp. France: Arte France [Online]


Linke, Oliver (2013) Auf den Spuren des Münchner Schildermalers Karl Blaschke. Munich: August Dreesbach Verlag  (A link with images here)

Melbourne, Australia

Banham, S (2012) Characters: Cultural Stories Revealed through Typography. Port Melbourne: Thames & Hudson Australia [Read Paul Shaw review in Print Magazine here.]


Safari Typo ! – Montreal (2017) Directed by Thomas Sipp. France: Arte France [Online]

New York, USA

Murray, James T & Karla L (2008)  Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York. Corte Madera, CA: Gingko Press

Rinaldi, Thomas E (2012) New York Neon. New York: W W Norton & Company

Paris, France

Fili, Louise (2015) Graphique de la Rue: The Signs of Paris. Princeton Architectural Press 

Safari Typo ! – Paris 1 & 2 (2017) Directed by Thomas Sipp. France: Arte France [Online]

Pernambuco, Brazil

Finizola, Fatima (2013) Abridores de Letras de Pernambuco: um Mapeamento da Gráfica Popular. São Paulo: Blucher

Valencia, Spain

Giménez, Tono Giménez & Gorria, Tomás (2017) Valencia al detalle / Vàlencia al detall. Valencia: Eina Cultural

Nava, Juan (2002) Itinerarios tipográficos. Un paseo por los viejos rótulos comerciales valencianos. Valencia: ADCV

Warsaw, Poland

Karwinska, Ilona (2008) Neon Warsaw. Warsaw: Agora (Read a text about the book in It‘s Nice That)

Wien, Austria

Ulrich Kehrer, Martin (2009) Stadtalphabet Wien.



By countries:

Bartram, A. (1986) The English Lettering Tradition. London: Lund Humphries Publishers Ltd

Camargo, José Eduardo & Soares, L (2007) O Brasil das Placas. Sâo Paulo: Panda Books (Read a review in Portuguese in O Tipo da Fonte).

Clough, James (2015) Signs of Italy. Lazy Dog Press

Fili, Louise (2014) Grafica Della Strada: The Signs of Italy. Princeton Architectural Press

MacDonald, Vici (2016) Shopfront elegy. Sampler: a themed compendium of vintage UK facades. London: Reverse Press

Rothfeld, Steven & Aciman, Andre (2001) Entrez: Signs of France. Workman Publishing

Treu, M. (2012) Signs, Streets and Storefronts. A History of Architecture and Graphics along America’s Commercial Corridors. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press



Where possible I have included a link to the publishing house, to a bookshop or to Abebooks, and if there is nothing else, to Amazon.
Obviously, this is an incomplete list, if you know of more similar books just tell me and I will add them.
Nothing in London?

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