1. Beverly, Massachusetts    Cabot Street

    Amanda Furrh
    Beverly City Hall. Blue shadow behind City Hall Hours, flourish-y dashes, and space-saving device of stacking A.M. and P.M. for Thursday. Thursday also gets the lovely italic to. Building needs a paint job, but that might put this beautiful sign at risk of replacement.

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  3. Beverly, Massachusetts    Elliott Street, at Beckford

    Hailey Meiggs, Alyssa Pettit
    Lettering is similar to, and probably based on, Broadway, designed by Morris Fuller Benton in 1927 (see entry at wikipedia) Might also be derived from ITC Manhattan.

    Wonder what thinking was behind choosing this lettering style. Do people comment about it? How does the business owner feel about it, these many years later?

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  5. Salem, Massachusetts    across from Court House

    Luke Rocknak
    Tendency toward thickening for alphanumeric characters with curves, to camouflage imperfect drawing? Note interesting use of colon-derived dots for 8:30 and 4:00pm, also (afterthought?) positioning of AM and PM at left and right. Hint of serif on the initial C, the most carefully drawn letter in the lot.

    The differently-styled 16'' at bottom suggests recycling of paper.

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  7. Beverly, Massachusetts     Hale Street, between First Baptist Church, and Fire Station

    Lauren Douglas
    Social services location for the homeless and others, also Alcoholics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, etc. McVey believes it was once (in the 1930s or earlier?) a Salvation Army outpost. Why White Whale? Smaller sign extending out from wall does not match, or approach in quality, the well-cut wooden sign; however, it is cut in shape of a whale.

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  9. Beverly, Massachusetts     (location ?)

    Amanda Furrh
    Students assumed this was done by a woman. Serrated shadow of fence top provides counterpoint to the cursive grace.

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  11. Beverly, Massachusetts     309 Rantoul Street

    Gina DiPietro
    Carefully executed, spaced out. The facebook link is a marketing device: liking puts customers on list for updates. It also suggests that the business is contemporary, alive, in synch with the zeitgeist. Cala Renee Salon specializes in curly hair cutting.

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  13. Beverly, Massachusetts     Cabot Street

    Derek Hart
    Nice fitting of gothic script letters together; Salt & Peper Here or to Go means what? the sub and pizza, behind text, perhaps not ideal solution.

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  15. Beverly, Massachusetts     17 Roundy Street

    Matthew Tanzi
    Lovely execution of fatface Bodoni HILTZ and DISPOSAL on curved baseline; letterer seems to have lost the plot on lower horizontal of the Z, however. The rest of the type is standard and boring. The scratches into steel nicely rhyme with the Bodoni thins: note the vertical scratches into the I and L, and the longer diagonal scratches in northeast quadrant.

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  17. Beverly, Massachusetts     location ?

    Ben Donohue
    lithography: a one-word poem.

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  19. Beverly, Massachusetts     Montserrat student village

    Tiffany Valcourt
    ellipsis/happy face at right.

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  21. Beverly, Massachusetts     location ?

    Tiffany Valcourt
    interactive sign

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  23. Beverly, Massachusetts     261 Cabot Street

    Hailey Meiggs, Alyssa Pettit
    One of two similar signs in window, Cassis Bakery. Vaguely Celtic look; has (or at one time had) a relationship with Celtic Crust bakery in West Newton. Comments focussed on the misshapen ampersand, and on the initial t — and the apostrophe — of torte’s

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  25. Beverly, Massachusetts     261 Cabot Street

    Cassie LaFlamme
    There’s a certain consistency to the style, in this sign. Note for example the lower case d, also a. Unfortunately, the business hours are not so consistent (particularly Monday!). Nice v in inconvenience.

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  27. Beverly, Massachusetts     261 Cabot Street

    Cassie LaFlamme
    Fine pastries in the same style as Cakes & Torte’s.

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  29. Beverly, Massachusetts     Dane Street

    Matthew Tanzi

    This sign is apparently rolled out for Sunday. Part of Spiritually Seeking obscured at top. We discussed reasons for the poor craft of the sign, in an institution that otherwise appears to be vibrant, vital, doing the right thing. Theories included: (1) volunteer labor; (2) embodiment of the maxim about importance of spirit not letter of the law (or word, in this case). McVey likes the D in Education.


This project was motivated by meteorological conditions (a lovely day), strong pressure exerted by students, the instructor’s interest in vernacular lettering, and the ease with which he is manipulated by his students.

We intend to develop a book in addition to this website, based on this material. Our discussion of the various images revealed that each conveyed quite a bit of information, particularly when viewed with perspective afforded by some web research into the firm whose signs were captured, or a street view of the location, or even a business’s own website and/or facebook page.

some references

Alastair Johnston’s important Musings on the Vernacular (Rochester: Visual Studies Workshop, 1988), and
Lee Friedlander, Letters from the People (London: Jonathan Cape, 1993)



instances of lettering and type on signs, walls and other surfaces, Beverly Massachusetts.

All taken on Monday 19 March 2012, by participants in Typography 1.

graphic design