Fascinating Old Typography of “Sanborn New York City Maps”


Title pages issued between 1885 and 1917

Old typography always fascinated us. Each of those old designs were unique! With wonderful typefaces that some of them don’t even exist in today’s typography. All designed by hand and no use of computer. They made just a plain store sign and it was a piece of art! If you look those maps below closely, you will see that no existing typefaces were used and you will find all kinds of known letter forms.

In february BibliOdyssey posted an article about Sanborn fire insurance typography. A fantastic collection of rich typography from the late 1800s and early 1900s. I found this collection to annyas.com.

The New York public Library has an online collection of Atlases of New York city, including a section containing Insurance maps of New York. 4,961 images from maps of the five boroughs of New York City: Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island. The images displayed below are all the title pages from the Insurance maps of New York Annyas could find.

This article is the first part of a series of articles about Sanborn Fire Insurance maps. You’ll find the second one here: Sanborn map company logo and lettering.

Maria Papaefstathiou

VISUAL DESIGNER since 1996 and blogger since 2010. Living in Athens, Greece. She has been focusing her research on poster design and particularly on social poster design and portrait design. Her main poster project is a series of posters celebrating great personalities of traditional and popular culture in Greece and Jamaica. These include actors, singers, musicians, poets etc. This is an ongoing project. “I believe that design is a powerful tool that we designers can use to spark enthusiasm, change mindsets and bring positive actions to our world and our culture”. FOUNDER AND EDITOR OF GRAPHICART-NEWS.COM BLOG. She carefully curates high-quality designs, illustrations, and art, from all over the world that will teach and provoke other designers. Many consider her blog to be an exceptional educational tool. CO-FOUNDER OF THE INTERNATIONAL REGGAE POSTER CONTEST which was launched on December 2011, partnering, the creative activist Michael Thompson aka Freestylee. (www.reggaepostercontest.com)

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