stoned at harvard
May 30, 2006 11:21 AM   Subscribe

Who is responsible for the wonderful type engraved in stone seen on gated walls around the Harvard campus? I am not talking about architectural lettering, but about the several quotes engraved in slabs of smooth stone and mounted in the walls separating various parts of the campus. The work looks contemporary, or at least very well-cared-for.
posted by luriete to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Many seem to be in a single, consistent style and I wish I had taken some photographs - no luck on flickr so far. Looks like many of them were done by the same person.
posted by luriete at 11:25 AM on May 30, 2006

Do you mean the Harvard Gates?
posted by vacapinta at 11:33 AM on May 30, 2006

Response by poster: No, I'm familiar with those. These are mostly script, in dark stone, with the slate or marble they are carved in set into several walls around campus - not structural walls but boundary walls. They are much newer than the gates.
posted by luriete at 11:44 AM on May 30, 2006

Response by poster: Oops sorry. Did not read the article fully. Yes, the gates. But I noticed that most of the engraving is much newer than the example shown there. I will read that article - thanks!
posted by luriete at 11:45 AM on May 30, 2006

Response by poster: Here's one of the plaques I was talking about. All must be done by the same person as the style is very consistent, the interiors of the letters are painted and all seem to be on similar types (although different colors) of stone.
posted by luriete at 11:48 AM on May 30, 2006

Response by poster: Well, that article doesn't really say anything about the contemporary work, just some of the historical engravings. Darn.
posted by luriete at 11:55 AM on May 30, 2006

When you say who is responsible, what do you mean? The department or division responsible for deciding to place such a plaque, or the one that maintains it, or the donor who bankrolled it, or the person who chose the quote, or the stonemason who carved it?
posted by ikkyu2 at 12:02 PM on May 30, 2006

Response by poster: Sorry, should have been more specific. I forget that I'm not talking to craftspeople - I meant the person who carved it, who most probably is the person who designed it and may have even designed the type itself as well.

I don't think it was a stonemason, though, but an engraver - look at the quality of that lettering!
posted by luriete at 12:12 PM on May 30, 2006

I would contact the Office for the Arts at Harvard or the Crimson Key Society (students that give campus tours).
posted by blahblahblah at 12:26 PM on May 30, 2006

It looks to be carved on slate. There are a number of gravestone carvers around New England doing this, here's one. Fabulous stuff.
posted by beagle at 12:32 PM on May 30, 2006

I don't think it was a stonemason, though, but an engraver - look at the quality of that lettering!

What leads you to believe it's not laser or machine engraved? I know nothing about engraving or inscribing so I'm not suggesting they're not hand cut.
posted by MarkAnd at 12:35 PM on May 30, 2006

Response by poster: MarkAnd: I am certain these are done by hand for several reasons.

First, Harvard of all places would never be so gauche as to use laser or machine engraving when there are some excellent engravers in the northeast.

Second, the letters are not of the same depth - you can see that they were cut with a chisel, as the engraved portion meets in a V at the bottom of each letter (I wish I knew the correct terminology for these aspects of carved letters).

Third, there are a few slightly noticeably chisel marks on the outer curves of certain characters and swashes - I'm reasonably certain no machine-engraving process would leave such toolmarks.

Fourth and last, but by no means most importantly, the lettering was obviously not designed based on any sort of pre-existing digital font; the ligatures, swashes etc. do not exist in these particular forms anywhere that I know of. This doesn't mean all that much, though; certainly it could have been designed by a calligrapher or other letterer and, barring points 1-3 above, machine-made. But anyone who would take the time to do such high quality lettering (or who would hire someone with the skill it took to make these) would also, I think, put value in having it the art applied by hand.
posted by luriete at 1:15 PM on May 30, 2006

Response by poster: I have been told by a reputable source that Mr. John Hegenauer, the great letterer at the John Stevens shop


may be responsible. Just in case anyone else is interested, I'll post more here as I learn. JLT
posted by luriete at 1:30 PM on May 30, 2006

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