Amsterdam Lettering Tour

Taking a tour of Amsterdam's hand-crafted lettering, signs and ghost signs with local Edd.

Sign painted in white by hand on a glass window reflecting an orange awning.
Café Krom in the traditional Amsterdam 'curly letter'.

Last month I headed over to Amsterdam with Mike Meyer to meet up with Jasper and the Dutch Sign Painters Guild (now Signpainters & Co.)  There was a hand-lettering workshop going on and also an impromptu lettering tour of Amsterdam led by Edd.

The tour took in lots of vernacular lettering, including the famous ‘Amsterdamse Krulletter’ (Amsterdam Curly Letter). There was also a surprising quantity of tiled and mosaic lettering, something I’d previously associated with Southern European countries like Spain and Portugal. Often the tiled lettering was found on fascias, in many cases those of former working men’s lodgings. I was also informed that the Dutch invented street numbering so that got me spotting different forms of those.

I had initially approached Edd to help me track down some of the repainted ghost signs from the book Tekens Aan De Wand (Writing on the Wall) and we ticked of three or four, as well as discovering some fading signs pre-restoration. All in all it was a fascinating pedal through the city and I’ve tried to capture some of my favourite pieces in the gallery below.