Typography is the substance that forms a book, the element that allows words to exist in the physical realm. However, while reading a book we focus on the meaning of the words and letters; rarely do we pay attention to their form. Hidden in Plain Sight: The Contributions of the American Type Foundry is an exhibition designed for bibliophiles, to introduce them to classic typefaces and the foundry that published them, the American Type Founders.
This ‘‘hidden” exhibition takes the form of a series of typographical bookmarks. In the same way that typography is often seen but rarely recognized, the bookmarks are nestled in slightly out-of-sight places, peeking out of the top of shelved books. The mystery of their concealment paired with a form familiar to all book-lovers instantly piques curiosity. Inquisitive Athenaeum visitors will be treated to a wealth of information about the typography of the American Type Foundry, one of the oldest and most important foundries in the history of American typesetting.
This exhibition was purposefully crafted specifically for The Boston Athenaeum, one of the oldest independent libraries in the world. The Athenaeum is home to a vast collections of rare, old books that chronicle the early history of the United States of America, and is located close to one of the original foundries that consolidated to become part of the American Type Founders. For more information about the American Type Founders and the purpose of the exhibition, visitors are encouraged to explore the exhibition guide.
Each bookmark features a different typeface that was created or sold by the American Type Founders. Information about the typeface can be found on the front, and a full type run in different weights is available on the back. The bright red seam insures the bookmarks are visible even when viewed from the side. Each bookmark is adorned with a unique ornament taken from the American Type Founders’ 1923 specimen book, which deeply influenced this project. The exhibition logo on top of the bookmarks pays tribute to the logos of the Athenaeum and the Foundry, which features angels and vines respectively.
For more information about the exhibition, please explore the video below.