My 2¢: From hendecagonal to round

For a brief spell in the 90s, I fancied myself as a coin collector. The interest didn’t last too long, but I did end up with a few old Indian coins that I still like, including a 1945 pice that has a hole punched in the middle. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I was in primary school, but I was very fond of coins with interesting shapes, like the 1p, 10p and 20p coins. There is little wonder then that my all-time favourite coin was the ₹2 one—it was a hendecagonal (or an 11-sided polygon), and I saw it and used it everyday.

Coins of denomination 1 pice (1945), 1p (1965), 10p (1986), 20p (1987) and ₹2 (2000)

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Pooja Saxena

Pooja is a typeface and graphic designer, as well as occasional teacher who works between Bangalore and Delhi.

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My 2¢: 1 & 2 Rupee


Travelling to India changed my relationship with money. When there, I am suddenly in possession of wads of bills in denominations of multiple zeros that I could never hope to ever see, let alone hold. Rupee coins are not as much a part of my experience there, and use them as other Indians do, to give money to people on the street or tips to drivers.

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Shelley Gruendler

Dr Shelley Gruendler, founder of Type Camp, is a typographer and educator who teaches, lectures, and publishes internationally on typography and graphic design. Although she holds a PhD and an MA in The History and Theory of Typography and Graphic Communication from the University of Reading, England, she also appreciates really lousy type stuff. Both Shelley and Beatrice Warde are extremely proud to be members of the Alphabettes.

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My 2¢: No pockets in a shroud?

In Hong Kong, I have seen several small stores selling colourful replica of contemporary luxury made by paper, spread all over the mega city. Mimicked handbags of must-have brands, smartphones and even favourite dishes of Hong Kong dining are artfully recreated, and sold to be offered to ancestors by burning the paper artefacts. From time to time, I observed people burning the offerings in metal barrels at the backstreets.

A small store for paper offerings at Sheung Wan, Hong Kong.
A small store for paper offerings at Sheung Wan, Hong Kong.

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Mariko Takagi

Mariko Takagi is a German-Japanese typographer, an author and designer of books and an educator. Her special interests are Japanese, Chinese and Latin letter based writing systems. After six years in Hong Kong, she is currently based in Germany.

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My 2¢: Cuba’s 2 Currencies

My 2¢ is less about the design of these two Cuban banknotes than about what they represent.

As a US-dwelling Canadian who has wanted to visit Cuba for many years, I finally made the trip there from Toronto in early 2015 — ironically, just after the announcement of the normalization of relations with the US.

Cuba is a striking and remarkable place in so many ways. But one of the things that struck me most upon arriving there was the discovery that since 1994 Cuba has had two parallel currencies: the Cuban Peso (CUP), which is used for trade among Cubans; and the Convertible Cuban Peso (CUC), which is used by visitors to the country and for international trade, and is pegged to the US dollar. So 1 CUC equals 1 USD — and 1 CUC equals approximately 25 CUP.

A 3-peso note from the international, convertible Cuban currency, the CUC.
A 10-peso note from the local Cuban currency, the CUP.

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Sara Soskolne

Sara Soskolne is senior designer at Hoefler & Co. where she has contributed to the design of a wide range of typefaces including Verlag, Chronicle, Sentinel, Gotham, Tungsten and Quarto. She has taught typeface design at multiple institutions in and around New York, and was a founding instructor of the Type@Cooper Condensed Program.

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My 2¢: Hyderabad State 2 Anna

Although my professional area of focus is Indic type, by which I mean the Brahmi-derived scripts native to India, my favorite coins in my small collection are four 2 Anna coins from the Princely State of Hyderabad, minted in 1946. They are among the last coins minted by the Hyderabad State before its dissolution.

The Hyderabad State, which occupied the Deccan plateau of south-central India, was a semi-autonomous vassal state that existed alongside the British Raj from 1798 until India’s independence in 1947. Ruled by the Asaf Jahi Dynasty, which was Turkic in origin, the Hyderabadi government spread Persian culture in the region. While the British issued currency to be used throughout their South Asian empire, they allowed the Hyderabad State to issue its own set of banknotes and coins.

Obverse of the Hyderabadi 2 Anna coin, 1946. Photo courtesy of Joseph Kunnappally.

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Erin McLaughlin

Erin is a typeface designer and consultant who specializes in Indic scripts. She is a graduate of the University of Reading MATD program, and worked previously at Hoefler & Frere-Jones.

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My 2¢: The Iranian 250 rial coin

To many people, the sentence “here is your change” followed by a clenched hand extending out towards them results in an inner groan. They know that hand is about to offer them coins, an object often perceived as an inconvenience—and in the case of coins with lower value, a nuisance. Coins are frequently taken out of circulation by people who keep them simply because they cannot be bothered to count, calculate, and spend them. I have memories of my parents coming home and discarding loose change on the coffee table, not wanting to carry the jingling weight in a pocket or purse the next day. Yet the same people were the cause of my appreciation for coins. More specifically, Iranian coins.


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Sahar Afshar

Sahar Afshar is an independent designer and researcher from Iran. After completing her BFA in Visual Communication from the University of Tehran she worked as the senior designer at Hermes Publishers Company in Tehran for four years. Afterwards she moved to Reading to earn her MA by research in Typography & Graphic Communication, where she focused on research on the Arabic script. Currently her focus is split between the design of new Arabic typefaces and research on specificities of the various languages that use the Arabic script.

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My 2¢: Take a penny, leave a penny

Since the design and lettering of the ‘lowly’ American penny has already been well-documented and researched by honorary Alphabette Tobias Frere-Jones, I’ve settled on an even lowlier topic: the penny tray. If you’re American, or have spent time in the clusterfuck that is currently the United States, then you know what I’m talking about. Found at the cash registers of gas stations, diners, and other small businesses, the object serves as a convenient place for customers and cashiers to dispose of, or acquire, a penny or two (but c’mon deadbeat, don’t even think of taking more than a few).

The basic tray features the phrases “LEAVE-A-PENNY / TAKE-A-PENNY” in subtly extruded shouty-caps that flank the top and bottom of the main bowl. A promotional logo adorns the front of the tray, promoting things like a local newspaper, state lottery, or community bank.

Pretty standard-looking penny tray
Pretty standard-looking penny tray

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Amy Papaelias

Amy is a design educator and type nerd living in New York’s Hudson Valley. She has written for The Recorder, Typographica and co-edited a recent issue of Visible Language. She helps keep the lights on here at

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My 2¢: Empathy Penny

I have a penny that is worth far more than its currency, as it was designed by Marian Bantjes.

Empathy penny, designed by Marian Bantjes
Empathy penny, designed by Marian Bantjes

Several years ago, I taught a Type Camp at the Design Exchange, the Design Museum of Canada in central Toronto. In the lobby is a machine that imprints designs of several artists, one of which is Bantjes, onto pennies. (The irony here is that Canada has ceased production of the penny and is removing them from circulation. Therefore, trying to locate a penny to use in the machine is becoming a bit difficult.)

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Shelley Gruendler

Dr Shelley Gruendler, founder of Type Camp, is a typographer and educator who teaches, lectures, and publishes internationally on typography and graphic design. Although she holds a PhD and an MA in The History and Theory of Typography and Graphic Communication from the University of Reading, England, she also appreciates really lousy type stuff. Both Shelley and Beatrice Warde are extremely proud to be members of the Alphabettes.

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My 2¢: Canadian $1 Coin

The Canadian dollar coin, introduced in 1987 with a loon featured on the back, is affectionately referred to as a ‘Loonie’. When the two dollar coin was introduced 9 years later, they had a public vote on whether to call it the ‘Twoonie’ or the ‘Doubloon’. They picked the former, which is a shame because if you have an opportunity to name your your money something pirate-themed, then you should totally do it. However, this essay is not about the mundane design of Canadian currency, but rather this particular Loonie, saved from during my recent decade Canada.


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Shelley Gruendler

Dr Shelley Gruendler, founder of Type Camp, is a typographer and educator who teaches, lectures, and publishes internationally on typography and graphic design. Although she holds a PhD and an MA in The History and Theory of Typography and Graphic Communication from the University of Reading, England, she also appreciates really lousy type stuff. Both Shelley and Beatrice Warde are extremely proud to be members of the Alphabettes.

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My 2¢: two typefaces, vanished

I do promise there is more than one influential Hebrew type designer, but after a long research process, my mind is filled with stories that were covered in boxes until now.
I am referring to Henri Friedlaender. Last time, I wrote about his design process, and today I wanted to share two typefaces that were simultaneously designed by him for the Bank of Israel in the 70’s: One serif style to be used for banknotes and one (semi-) sans, for coins. Those two were supposed to act as a family, and indeed, Friedlaender based them both on similar skeletal forms.

the banknotes typeface
the banknotes typeface

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Liron Lavi Turkenich

Liron Lavi Turkenich is Typeface designer, currently based in Israel and working internationally. She has a b.Des in Visual Communications and an MA in Typeface design from the University of Reading. She finds great interest in multilingual typeface design, and specialises in Hebrew and Amharic. Her project Aravrit, combining Hebrew and Arabic to one type system received many positive responses and publicity. In addition to design, Liron is involved in research, exhibitions, and writes about typography. She shares her knowledge and experiences in talks and workshops around the globe, teaches typography and writes in several platforms. Liron loves travelling around the world, finding hidden culinary gems and searching for typographic treasures in dusty archives.

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My 2¢: the Spanish peseta coin

I often find myself looking at things that go unnoticed or that people just don’t care about. Coins are invisible design items for most people. We often use size and color to differentiate one from each other, but we rarely look at them closely. I have heard once that the design of a stamp was one of the most challenging and uplifting commissions a graphic designer could get. There are probably many more constraints in the design of a coin, but you would agree with me that it would be a really interesting project for a type designer.

I would like to share with you some thoughts on the design of a particular coin, the extinct Spanish peseta. It was the currency used in Spain from 1868 to 2002, when the euro was introduced. As a side note, it is one of the few examples of a coin with a female name. I was able to collect some historical models of the peseta coins which took me to dark times in our country. The coins became a symbol of political power and the images and text engraved on them were used to reinforce the establishment.

The two sides of 5 historical models of the 1 peseta coin. From right to left, peseta from 1869, 1900, 1947, 1975 and 1986
The two sides of 5 historical models of the 1 peseta coin. From right to left, peseta from 1869, 1900, 1947, 1975 and 1986

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María Ramos

After obtaining a degree in Advertising, María worked as a graphic and editorial designer for several companies in Galicia. She has recently graduated in the Master in Typeface Design from the University of Reading. She loves art in all its forms, and has a crush on typewriters.

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Imaginary Alphabets

I launched a project nearly ten years ago now, when I was just beginning to bridge lettering into my graphic design work. It was called Imaginary Alphabets, and I started with an alphabet I called Lucattini. Lucattini’s is a small Italian restaurant in a laneway in Melbourne, Australia, where I lived at the time.

Lucattini's, Melbourne.
Lucattini’s, Melbourne.

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Elizabeth Carey Smith is a design director and type designer based in New York. She is an avid reader, writer, letterer, and rap music listener—whose focus is how letters and words express the most simple and complex aspects of our lives.

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The Love Letters

During the month of February 2016, Alphabettes contributors opened their minds and hearts to create the Love Letters series. From Rio to Bangalore, Spain to California, we were taken on a world-wide tour of beloved treasures, found objects, personal histories and typographic ephemera. Enjoy the collection and let’s do it again soon.

Indra loves Buttermann
Indra ❤ Buttermann
Bianca ❤ paperbacks
Bianca ❤ paperbacks
Taylor loves interrobangs
Taylor ❤ interrobangs
Pooja loves street lettering
Pooja ❤ street lettering
Amy ❤ Modess
Isabel loves letters in chrome
Isabel ❤ chrome letters
Laura Loves “Polskie Pismo”
Laura ❤ Polskie Pismo
Lynne loves matchbox labels
Lynne ❤ matchbox labels
Tiffany loves graveyards
Tiffany ❤ graveyards
Liron loves Henri’s type strips
Liron ❤ Henri’s strips
Tânia ❤ stamps
Tânia ❤ stamps
Marina loves the Kaba ornament
Marina ❤ the Kaba
Mariko loves Chinese oracle script
Mariko ❤ oracle script
Jillian loves Avant Garde magazine
Jillian ❤ Avant Garde
Nora loves whispering papers
Nora ❤ whispering paper
Lynne loves vintage tins
Lynne ❤ vintage tins
Alessia loves Pagina
Alessia ❤ Pagina
Sol loves antique rubber stamps
Sol ❤ rubber stamps
ECS loves vintage Italian fashion
ECS ❤ vintage fashion
Luisa loves Rio's old acrylic signs
Luisa ❤ old acrylic signs
Elena loves pigeons
Elena ❤ pigeons
Eleni loves Greek notaries’ handwriting
Eleni ❤ handwriting
Vik loves ghost signs
Vik ❤ ghost signs
Dyana loves garbage
Dyana ❤ garbage
Laura loves lettering on book covers
Laura ❤ cover lettering
Roxane loves fruit stickers
Roxane ❤ fruit stickers
Jess loves interpolation
Jess ❤ interpolation
Nina ❤ bad design
Nina ❤ bad design
Pooja loves newspapers
Pooja ❤ newspapers

Pooja loves newspapers

2016 is a leap year, and all thanks to that I get to be here a second time to profess my love for one more thing. Even though I haven’t bought a newspaper to read the news in years, every time I spot a newspaper whose copy I don’t own, I need to buy it. What started as a couple of innocent purchases has turned into an obsession—some would even call it love!

A sample of nameplates from Indian newspapers (from top to bottom): Gujarat Samachar (Gujarati), Eenadu (Telugu), Madhyamam (Malayalam), Andolan (Kannada), Dinaethal (Tamil), Dainik Bhaskar (Devanagari), Lokmat (Marathi in Devanagari), Rozana Spokesman (Punjabi in Gurmukhi), Inquilab (Urdu in Nastaliq), Namasthe Telangana (Telugu), Sakal Bela (Bengali) and The Pioneer (English)

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Pooja Saxena

Pooja is a typeface and graphic designer, as well as occasional teacher who works between Bangalore and Delhi.

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Nina (sometimes, despite everything) loves bad design

I had one hell of a hard time deciding what to write about. I considered writing about specimen books or lettering manuals, flea markets or abandoned factories, house numbers or old advertising signage, puns or portmanteaus or the state I go into when I draw type at night; things that capture me completely and fill me with deep joy and sometimes make me feel like I have little pink hearts bubbling out of my ears.

But I also love just looking: at tiny, unremarkable, mundane things; and even weird or bad design that only makes limited sense outside its target audience. And, I may not be part of that audience, especially when I’m traveling (which I love for this reason, too: an outside look at things). I often get a kick out of the amazing, impenetrable kind of bad we often overlook.
So I decided to write about Sant’Anna.

Wait what?

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Nina Stössinger

Type-obsessed designer & overall curious person. Lives near the rainy Dutch beach in Den Haag, where she runs Typologic, her studio for type design, typography, & code.

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Jess Loves Interpolation

Type designers take joy in the little things. We obsess over our &s and †s, we toil over the ear on a double-story g, we include oft-forgotten characters just for fun, and we inject all of our personality into %s and #s. As a fledgling type designer, I’ve found the most joy in interpolation.


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Roxane loves fruit stickers

« Every designer should collect things » said Véronique Vienne, in a talk she gave in Amiens (France) back in 2013, when I was still studying typeface design there. This had quite an impact on me. At that time, I had already started collecting the tiny (and annoying) stickers you find on fruits and vegetables. Suddenly I didn’t feel like a weirdo anymore.

I don’t remember exactly why I started keeping them, and I still don’t know what attracts me most about the tiny sticky pieces: seeing them on the fruits or stocking them in my notebook, all together.


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Roxane Gataud

Roxane Gataud is a French typeface designer living in Paris.

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Laura loves lettering on book covers

This post is about sharing my love for lettering on book covers that I’ve discovered and some collected over the last few years. That’s the easy part, but making a selection is quite hard, because there are lots of them I love. I hope you will enjoy it. I will start with two fabulous books I got in Warsaw.

‘artur conan doyle’, book cover by Andrzej Czeczot, 1959. ‘Niepokonane’ book cover by Aleksander Stefanowski, 1964.

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Laura Meseguer

Laura Meseguer is a freelance typographer and type designer based in Barcelona. She also teaches and eventually writes. She works in custom lettering and type design projects and through her own digital foundry, Type-Ø-Tones, she releases and promotes her typefaces. These days she is busy with some lettering related jobs, the release or her typeface family Multi and the design of Qandus Latin, for the Typographic Matchmaking in the Maghrib project.

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Dyana Loves Garbage

Finding the divine in the details—what others overlook—is not so much an amusing pastime, but a constant state of being. When out on a hike, I often stop to question a seemingly meaningless feature. What species of moss is this? Why does this look like a witch’s hat? Who lives in this hole? The answers can be fascinating.

Living in a city, one might find charming little doodads in the gutter and under hedges as well. The metal numbers and letters on telephone polls—what’s the deal with those? In the same week, I found two that had liberated themselves somehow. For years, I’ve been accumulating these letters, or odd bits that look like letters. Some as possible solutions for future typeface projects, others just for the sake of the collection.

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Dyana Weissman

is a typeface designer at the Font Bureau in Boston, but she also enjoys writing, photography, and getting outside.

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Vik loves ghost signs

Loving might be a too strong word for my fascination with so-called ghost signs, but I do feel strangely attracted to them. It was probably in England where I came across ghost signs for the first time, but it was only when I moved to the USA that I started photographing them.


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Veronika Burian

Veronika Burian studied Industrial Design in Munich and worked in that capacity in Vienna and Milan over a few years. Discovering her true passion for type, she graduated with distinction from the MA in Typeface Design in Reading, UK, in 2003 and worked as type designer at DaltonMaag in London for a few years. After staying for some time in Boulder, USA, and her hometown Prague she is now mostly living and working in Spain. Veronika Burian is type designer and co-founder (with José Scaglione) of the independent type foundry TypeTogether, publishing award-winning typefaces and collaborating on tailored typefaces for a variety of clients. She also continues to give lectures and workshops at international conferences and universities.

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