Book List of the Week

Book List of the Week: Calligrapher “Alice”

The creator of the Morgan Library & Museum’s celebrated signage picks 5 favorite books and gets a book dedicated to her own career.

By Stephanie Salomon July 19, 2016
Alice Koeth, Calligrapher (New York)
View Alice Koeth’s Book List

For more than three decades, beginning in 1967, the calligrapher “Alice” (Alice Koeth— she dropped her last name professionally early on) designed and lettered the iconic and highly praised signage for New York’s Morgan Library & Museum. A founding member of the Society of Scribes (SOS), she is one of the most respected calligraphers in the world today, whose work has influenced generations of scribes.

Her keen understanding of the craft, respect for its tools, and interest in historical calligraphic forms come across clearly in the list of five books she recommends— all explorations of the written form of symbols, letters, and numbers. These range from the 1930 classic The Book of Signs by Rudolf Koch, to The Calligrapher’s Handbook by Heather Child (“a bible,” says Alice), to a catalogue of the work of Rudo Spemann, who, while imprisoned during World War II, Alice notes, “wrote the most wonderful small pages by candlelight.”

Up to now, though, she has never had a book devoted to her own extraordinary work, A currently running Kickstarter*, created by Jerry Kelly of The Kelly-Winterton Press, to publish a book on Alice’s calligraphy, aims to change that.

Poster for the Morgan Library & Museum, 1979.

Spread from the book on Alice’s calligraphy, a Kickstarter project.

The book will feature 140 illustrations, showing the depth and breadth of Alice's artistry over her more than 60-year career. In addition to her celebrated posters for the Morgan Library & Museum (many not seen for decades),  the book contains charming early works from the 1950s, as well as several sketches and preliminary layouts which offer a rare glimpse into Alice’s working process.

You can support the “Alice” Kickstarter through July 30! *Updated, August 1: the Kickstarter has been successfully funded!

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