Tuesday, April 6, 2021

American Calligraphy: Roman capitals

The USA initials shown above
are derived from capitals that
were written with a flat brush
and then 
V-cut into marble.
The grooves could be accented
with red paint or gold leaf.
Edward Catich (1906-1979) meticulously re-examined the Trajan column inscription in Rome, using large photographs and detailed rubbings. For 2000 years, calligraphers and typographers have periodically refreshed their own Roman letters by referring back to these iconic capitals.  

Father Catich taught the art of calligraphy for 40 years at St Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa. "Art is not freedom from discipline, but disciplined freedom." 

Right: Roman letters carved from slate and hand-framed by Father Catich. The gold letters here represent the original imperial Roman letters, the red letters were either not part of the alphabet in 113 CE or did not exist at the time, such as J, U, W. 
Photo courtesy of Paul Herrera. 

Left: Father Catich painting the letters of his own cast of the Trajan inscription.  Photographer unknown. 

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