An article I wrote about ghost signs around Brooklyn and Manhattan is the cover story in the new issue of TYPO Magazine.

TYPO is a quarterly bilingual English-Czech design magazine devoted to the study of typography in context with other disciplines like architecture, urban design, photography, philosophy, and sociology.

You can order a hard copy or download a digital copy of issue 45 HERE.

A preview:

If you’re interested in supporting Vernacular Typography, please visit the Artspire website to learn more about a tax-deductible donation. Vernacular Typography is a fiscally sponsored project of Artspire, a Program of New York Foundation for the Arts 501(c)3.

“P.S. Just Received Word Germany Surrendered”

I always look for airmail envelopes in stationery stores and flea markets, and found this beat up one a few weeks ago for $1.

vernacular typography 1945 vintage navy airmail envelope wwii

vernacular typography 1945 vintage navy airmail envelope wwii
I knew it had been written by a sailor from the naval censor stamp and postmark, but didn’t see the date or read the letter inside until later.

It’s from a radioman third class stationed on the USS Chilton in the Pacific to his brother in the army, written in May of 1945 after learning that Hitler was dead, and Germany had surrendered.

vernacular typography 1945 vintage navy airmail envelope wwii
vernacular typography 1945 vintage navy airmail envelope wwii

“Hello Al,

I received a letter from you a few days ago and I’m glad to learn everything is O.K. with you.

As was the fact, I was fairly busy the last weeks and also mailing facilities weren’t available at times while being at sea. That is why you haven’t heard from me too often. However, every chance I had I wrote to you and you can expect more correspondence from me from now on, I hope. I’ll write as often as possible even tho there isn’t much to say (these letters are censored and censorship is very necessary) I believe that I told you I was in Leyte, Hawaii, Palau, Eniwetok and Ulithi and several other places. So you can readily see I’ve travelled in the last few months.

I learned today that the Russians had Berlin and Hitler was dead. All very good news. I hope it’s all over soon. Possibly the U.S. would shift all war efforts and materials to this area and shorten the war here.

I’ve seen enough enemy action to last me awhile. Lots to talk about when I get to see you.

I hope you received your leave about the time you receive this letter.

I’ll say so long now and I’ll write soon.

As ever,


May 5 – Just Received word Germany surrendered. Happy day.

Murray Zelman Rm 3/c”

In 1945, the USS Chilton was stationed in the Pacific. On May 9th (the postmark date of the letter) the Chilton was refueuling in Eniwetok, on its way from Okinawa to Pearl Harbor.

$1 well spent.