Vintage Lettering Styles

Class 1 in the Writing with a Bent Nib series covers the lettering styles of European posters, American show cards, and Silent Movie titling

Vintage Lettering Styles of the early 1900s

This is the first class in the Writing with a Bent Nib five-part series.
The poster artists of Europe created a burst of energy in hand lettering at the turn of the 20th century. American show card artists and illustrators also created their own unique and playful lettering styles. 
You'll learn the characteristics and tools that contributed to the look of these vintage styles. Randall demonstrates the unique Eccentric Title alphabet using the Speedball C-5 pen, sharing subtle pen manipulation and pressure and release techniques. Learning this style will teach invaluable skills that will translate towards lettering many other broad-edged styles.  
Vintage Lettering Styles includes a 28-page handout with myriad examples, and downloadable PDFs for all examples and alphabets demonstrated. The total duration of this class is 3 hours, 30 minutes.
Note that each class in the series is sold separately or you can also purchase all five classes at special bundle price ($400) OR pay in six monthly installments. 

The Vintage Styles class contains over 3 hours of content. Scroll down to view curriculum and watch preview movies.

Vintage Styles, Tools and Materials

In the early 1900s, lettering artists found that the traditional broad-edged pens and sign painter tools were unsuitable for creating show cards in the emerging European styles which focused on Gothic, or uniform width, lettering. Learn how artists tried to adapt by using ruling pens, Payzant pens and Automatic pens, and how they mixed opaque pigments that would cover the board with just one stroke. 

The Show Card Style

Show card writers made adjustments their lettering so that they could write text with greater speed. As opposed to sign painters, they favored lowercase lettering for easy readability. Their layouts used fully justified blocks of text, even if it meant sacrificing the shape and width of the letterform. In this section, you’ll learn about the most common idiosyncrasies using historical examples.

Eccentric Title

The version of Eccentric Title you’ll learn was created by William Gordon in 1918. It has many characteristics that will lead to mastery of the broad-edged pen. Using the flexible Speedball C-5 pen, you’ll practice whole arm movement, pressure and release, and using the corner of the pen to create this popular style from the silent movies. Randall has written a detailed, 80-page book, Lettering of the Silent Film Era that is also available for purchase.

Drawn Lettering

Artists of the early 1900s used stone lithography and various tools to draw their letters and create colorful posters. In this section, you’ll practice a variety of alphabets – Unique Squatty-Type, Modern Decorative Caps, and Freehand – by double-stroking letters using small nibs. Drawn lettering can really give you your own distinctive style and the vintage look is actually enhanced by the slight inconsistencies.

Why choose Courses from the Hasson Studio?

A superior quality, informative presentation is the highest priority in Randall’s Course offerings.
He has a focus on the WHY of his subject matter. Each course has detailed introductions with history and background, information on materials, and skill session videos geared towards your learning style. Short videos allow a more focused concentration, while longer presentations can give a greater overview for those who learn better that way.

Features of these Online Courses

Extended access allows you to learn at your own pace.
Classes are ready to begin as soon as your payment is processed.

  • Classes are prerecorded, allowing you to watch on your own schedule
  • Videos are recorded in High Definition video with multiple camera angles
  • Videos are paced for the artist; unnecessary pauses and wasted time are edited out.
  • Copious handouts, resources, or detailed materials videos are included with each course.
  •  4 years of extended access for individual courses; 5 years for multiple class bundles. 

We also recommend adding Randall's Live Sessions and Session Replays for a full year (10 sessions)
These sessions include presentations, projects, questions and answers, and the ability to interact with fellow students. Live Session Replays are posted so new students can catch the ones they missed, and a private Facebook Group allows you to comment, share your work, and get inspired. 

To learn more about this series, please visit the Writing with a Bent Nib page.

Ann Cobb

The small bites make the courses easier for those who do not have 2 or 3 hours of dedicated time, and the way they are organized – the detail, the illustrations, the instruction, the excellent quality of the sessions – helps everyone to grasp the content more completely. 

Course Curriculum

Vintage Lettering Styles
Single Class Purchase


Vintage Lettering Styles
(class 1 in a 5-part series)

Writing with a Bent Nib Series (5 Classes)
*Recommended Plan


Special bundle price
($100 savings)
Learn more about the Series

Writing with a Bent Nib Series (5 Classes)
Installment Plan


Six monthly payments
Total $420 ($80 savings)
Learn more about the Series


Randall Hasson

Randall M. Hasson is an artist, calligrapher, instructor and speaker who has appeared on the faculty of over 25 Arts, Lettering Arts, and Educational Conferences in the United States, Canada and England. He is the author of articles on a variety of Art or Lettering Art related subjects and has appeared as a mainstage presenter and/or teacher with lecture topics covering Public Art, Art History, the Painting Process, Collaborative Art Projects, and the History of Writing including the recent invention of the ADLaM Alphabet in West Africa.

In 2015, he co-edited of the 24th (Centennial) Edition of The Speedball Textbook. In addition to a series of online workshops called Writing with a Bent Nib, Randall is currently writing and designing his forthcoming book Teaching America How to Letter – The Speedball Story, a history of commercial lettering and American show card writing in the 1900’s.