Tuesday, May 5, 2015

How to spot fake hotel luggage labels (and any other counterfeited antique printed papers)

Note : this article will be constantly updated with new fake label I receive time to time from my fellow collectors and myself. Last update : Fri Dec 11 2015.

Many fake valuable printed material is sold through Ebay and on the internet in general simply because you don’t actually hold in your hands what you are buying, so it’s easy to defraud the buyer. Unfortunately it’s difficult to report such illegal abuse because Ebay make money of it. They don't care whether an item is a copy or an original as long as it’s sold through their platform. I’ve seen many designers or photographers complaining because a large amount of copies and illegal use of their creations are sold on Ebay or Amazon.

Now let’s talk about what I myself experienced, buying fake hotel labels. The following images are all scans of fake hotel labels I bought from Ebay. Plaese note these were stated by the seller as ‘100% original’. Please have a thorough look at them (click them for a larger view). What are those lines and dots ? You should ask yourself. Aren’t these supposed to be lithography prints ? Well…yes ! Supposedly. See below the explanation.

Below new additions Fri Dec 11 2015. Thanks to Tom Schifanella for the contribution !

The 8 signs that indicate your label is fake

Requirements : a magnifier or a scanner, your sharp eyes and a good sense of smell !

1)  Tracking dots. These fake labels have all been printed using a color laser printer, you can see that in bright and dark areas where appears a grid of yellow dots, called 'tracking dots' (more info) : see X-ray image above the doorman’s head in first image, used by all manufacturers to identify a printer. Even if a small amount of laser printers don’t have tracking dots, they still print a pattern.

  Pattern. There is oblique lines pattern made by LED laser heads of the printer.

3)  Color. Digital printing uses CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) colors and create a dot pattern with these colors which is perceived by our eyes as an homogeneous colored surface, lithography makes flat colors not CMYK patterns, this pattern can easily be seen in all fake labels with a sharp eye or magnifier.

4)  Surface finish. Toner ink used by printers leaves an even shiny surface, even on a matte paper.

5)  Smell. A real label has an inimitable and authentic 'old' paper smell which just can't be copied.

6)  Cut. Round Brunig label has been cut by hand using a cutter and not with an industrial plotter.

7)  Stamps. Real stamps have been made by the forger for the exclusive use on fake labels. These are sometimes used on reverse of the labels (see scan above). The stamps were originally used by collectors to identify their labels. You can’t rely on this to know if a label is fake or not because the forger uses a real stamp.

8)  Paper. Paper used is cheap recycled stock rubbed and soiled by hand to imitate a fake 'antique' surface effect. Only time can age paper !

Beware : Some sellers make low definition scans or bad quality images (blurry) so you can’t assess the originality. ASK FOR HIGH DEF SCANS or don’t buy ! Don’t get caught :).

Stone lithography printing technique

Below is a scan of a lithography versus offset print (click for larger version). All the printers will generate a pattern to recreate the colors, even an inkjet printer. Stone lithography, however, is an antique technique that makes single colors layers overprinted (see my older article!). Each layer is printed with a lithographic flat stone, which is directly engraved by the artist using a special tool. The stones are inked and used as stamps to print each color layer of the composition. These layers can go up to five, meaning five stones have to be engraved to print the artwork. Some collectors and specialists even compare lithography to a real painting because of its accuracy. Learn more here.

Hand lithograph VS offset lithograph

Above is an example of lithography at its early stage, around 1890 - 1900, while below is a more 'recent' example of lithography from around 1940 -1950. With the hand lithograph technique, the artist creates ALL his patterns by hand, leaving a random agglomeration of tiny dots when seen under a magnifier, but give the effect of an additional homogeneous hue when seen by the naked eye. The offset lithograph technique, however, was a mechanical process developed later that allowed to separate original artwork colors in 4 different layers and created a dot pattern in some areas. When each layers are over-printed, they gave the illusion of new colors in the artwork. The dots in these mechanically-generated patterns are strictly regular and well-aligned. See this Bellevue label below in which a mix of flat colors (like the red text and the sky) and offset pattern hues (trees, rocks and snow… see detail below) have been printed. Another good explanation on the subject can be found here.

**EDIT** (August 5th, 2015) : Here's a recent FAKE label I received. That is ANOTHER KIND OF FORGERY TECHNIQUE which is ink-jet printing AND an attempt to give an 'antique' and glossy finish effect which resulted in a disgusting dirt and soil effect. The real label is a custom cruciform die-cut label that has been imitated here by hand using a cutter knife. Buying a manual die-cut machine and make custom dies would be the only option to imitate the cut but would cost waaay too much money and effort to the forgerer. See below the REAL ONE (in its squared, non-cruciform version) VS the FAKE ONE (click for a larger version). The second image shows the FAKE one in its entirety. WELL TRIED !


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Hotel de la Paix, Lausanne, Switzerland
[EN] Hotel label printed by Trüb AG, ca. 1920. Lithography.
[FR] Cette étiquette était une commande de L’Hôtel de la Paix à Lausanne à l’imprimeur suisse A. Trüb & Cie siégeant à Lausanne et Aarau. Entièrement imprimée en lithographie.

Ci-dessus, le même point de vue, depuis la Rue de la Paix. Google Maps, juin 2009.

Monday, December 1, 2014

A unique dry transfer alphabet back to life

Bron is based on Zelek, designed in the 70s by Polish type designer Bronisław Zelek. This typeface was originally made for dry transfer lettering sheets. It has been drawn following the principles of impossible geometry and is derived from simple geometric forms (perfect circles, triangles and squares). It is has been carefully redrawn and updated and is now available for contemporary technology and design. Use Bron’s rounded and smooth optical shapes in your headlines, logos, packagings, posters to instantly attract attention. This style offer two separate layered fonts to make your own awesome two color compositions. These can be used separately to create even more subtle effects. Bron is packed with an extended character set, supporting Central, Western and Eastern European languages.

Buy it from MyFonts HERE.
Or directly get it from me here and get 15% off for the complete family :

Bron has been drawn with the utmost care in the finest details for perfect rendering in print and on-screen use. As a result, details like inconsistent sharp tips commonly found in Bron’s letter shapes have been beveled for superior accuracy and reproducibility for print and screen.

The most exciting part was to create all the glyphs non-existent in the old, original character set. Accented letters, multilingual letters, @ sign, Euro sign, etc.

Zelek’s design has previously been revived, right? 

—Yes, it did. Zelek Black has been first revived by Simon Griffin as a bespoke font for the exclusive use and launch of UK edition of Wired magazine in 2009. The revival was based on a showing found under the name of ‘Zorro’ in an old Typaedia font catalog.


Zelek has also been digitized by Dick Pape in 2010 and released as a freebie. It has been generated by scanning an old Dover alphabet catalog and then auto-traced on the computer. See below what's the result of auto-generated fonts compared to a proper, manual drawing.

Bron Black has been completely redrawn point by point, curve by curve. Original rub-down sheets with big and detailed letters and original type catalogs were used as a source for the revival. See by yourself the difference between the new Bron Black and the auto-traced Zelek (click on the image for a larger preview). Due to its geometrical shapes, inlines and fine details, this typeface deserved the most proper and accurate curves drawing. 

During my researches, I eventually found some old in-use examples of Zelek. This particular example below is from an old poster ad by Atari for the launch of their best seller product at the time, the Pin-Pong machine. The ad is dated 1974, the year when Steve Jobs was working at Atari. 

The in-use example above was a semi-outline version of Zelek. It is called Bron Shadline and you can get it at the beginning of this post !

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A catalog of over 1500 basic alphabets + variations

This catalog from Photo-Lettering, inc. was printed in New York and released in 1950. Photo-Lettering was the major figure in United States for providing a wide range of original alphabet designs using phototypesetting technique. It is one of their earliest catalog and appeared ten years before the publication of their famous Alphabet Thesaurus Nine Thousand. The main difference between the two is this one displays types under in-use specimens form but the alphabet thesauruses only show one line specimens of the faces, without any use of other graphics than letters. 

Credit goes to Alex Steinweiss for the cover design and general format; to the individual letterers for the special display pages of their alphabets; to Liam Dunne for help on the ornate alphabet section; to the staff of Photo-Lettering; and to Wright Photo-Offset for the printing. 

I learned from an article on the House Industries website that the PLINC bowtie logo (below - designed by Alex Steinweiss) was first seen on this catalog and then lasted for all next issues and corporate identity of the firm. It's bowtie-shaped, yes, but what does it really represent ? Any ideas ?

Contributing letterers for this issue include : Josef Albers, Alexey Brodovitch, J. Albert Cavanagh, Joseph Binder, Edward P. Diehl, Harold Hite, Harry Winters, Albert E. Nolan, Albert Soroka, Charles J. Freericks, George Suman, Herbert Feuerhake, Pete Dom, Gustav V. Meidel, William H. Millstein, Emil A. Schaedler, M. M. Davison, Tommy Thomson, C. E. Coryn, Tony Stan, George F. Trenholm, Sol I. Immerman, Oscar Ogg, Edwin W. Shaar, Garnett Megee, Herman Spinadel, Hollis Holland, Saul Haupt, Denis A. Edridge, Sidney Lisson, Sol Nodel, J. J. Karle, James D. Brooks, Victor Lamkay, Nasri Khattar, Alfred R. Bosco, John A. Karafa, Milton Crown, L’Harl Copeland, David B. Hills, Milton K. Zudeck, Melvin M. Tuch, M. R. Kaufmann, Maximilian R. Kerr, S. E. Norton, Frederick Blakeslee, Arthur Ohlman, George Piscitelle, Rodolfo Wallenberg, John S. Allen.

178 pages. 220 × 280 mm.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Lettres ombrées ornées

This alphabet was first designed by Joseph-Gaspard Gillé in ca. 1820 and sold through its own foundry Gillé fils. It was then passed to the Haas'sche Schriftgießerei and Deberny & Peignot.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Pistilli Roman

Published by Aaron Burns & Co., Inc. (1965). This booklet announced the release of Pistilli Roman. According to this booklet, an italic, a light and light italic versions had to be released but never did. Pistilli Roman is to me one of the most elegant and unique Didot ever made. Just like ITC Didi and many others, Pistilli Roman is one of these beautiful pre-digital typefaces that were overlooked and never been digitized profesionally.

There's a note at the beginning of the booklet that reads :

How to Specify Pistilli Roman :
Pistilli Roman has been designed especially for photographic typesetting and is intended primarily as a display type face. It is available on film in sizes 36 pt., 72 pt. and 96 pt., and each size can be enlarged up to 100% (i.e., 72 pt. to 144 pt. ) or reduced 50% (i. e., 96 pt. to 48 pt.) It is not recommended for use below 24 point. To specify Pistilli Roman, it is necessary first to specify the point size or the desired height of the capital letter and, secondly, to indicate the spacing between letters. "Normal" spacing on the Typositor is equivalent to most metal typesetting with the exception that the Typositor has none of the restrictions and confinements of fine spacing that metal type has. If close letterspacing is desired, specify "tight" spacing; for very close spacing specify "very tight" spacing. Proofs are delivered either as 2-inch-high galley strips or in larger proof form with all type made up completely in position as per your layout or instructions. Normally, only one proof is delivered to you when ordering Typositor Typography. Since there are no negatives in normal Typositor Typography (the original is already in positive form, black type on white paper), file copy proofs only are maintained by our company. If more than one set of galley strips is required, additional prints can be delivered together with the original. Enclosed is a current price chart for your convenience. We shall be happy to estimate on any job and to discuss with you any problem you may have.

Aaron Burns & Company

…And a small biography of the designer on the last page :

JOHN PISTILLI is head of lettering design at Sudler & Hennessey, Inc., where he has been employed since I949. Born December 4, 1925, he attended public schools in Astoria and Long Island City, N.Y. He graduated from the Jean Morgan School of Art in New York City, where he studied lettering under J. Albert Cavanaugh. He has also completed art courses at the City College of New York and during World War II served in the U .S. Navy. Mr. Pistilli has received numerous awards from the Art Directors Club of New York and New Jersey, Type Directors Club of New York and the American Institute of Graphic Arts. He resides in Malverne, N.Y. with his wife, Dorothy, and their son, John Jr.

See more on my Flickr