A visit to Shorpy inevitably lasts the rest of the day. This tremendous archive of hundred-year-old photos has much to recommend it to anyone interested in period typography: the optimistic lettering of the New Deal is well represented, and there’s an excellent cross-section of sidewalk Americana as well; entertainingly, the whole collection is leavened by an undercurrent of quiet menace that I find delightfully surreal.
There are impossibly old photos from Antietam and significant ones from Kitty Hawk, but it’s candid images like this that I find the most striking. For while it’s their farmers and seamstresses and street urchins who draw focus and take center stage, the true subject of these photographs is the lettering in the background, and the thousands of invisible hands responsible for every single letter.
To my delight, Shorpy is now working with the Juniper Gallery to produce reproductions of some of their most evocative Vintage High-Resolution Photographs. Produced as eight-color giclee prints on a variety of archival stocks, Shorpy’s photographs are available in sizes from 19" × 13" (48cm × 33cm) to 47" × 34" (119cm × 86cm). Order by December 18 for Christmas delivery. —JH