Men of Faith, Letters of Commerce: A Typographic Tour of M.G. Road

Organised by the Bangalore International Centre, I conducted an updated type walk in M.G. Road in June. Using the signs and landmarks of M.G. Road as provocation, I talked about the myriad letterforms on display on shop and building fronts — from fast disappearing neon signs to ubiquitous sans serifs and multiscript branding — and discuss their historical and cultural legacies. Together with that, I reminded participants of snapshots of printing history and initiatives driven by colonial missionaries whose presence is still felt at M.G. Road.

This time, the walk started from the statue of Reverend Ferdinand Kittel at the junction of Residency and M.G. Road. Kittel was a Lutheran priest, who was sent to India as a missionary. In 1894, he produced a Kannada-English dictionary, first of its kind, containing 70,000 words. I spoke about Kittel and his association with the Basel Mission Press, and together we looked at title pages of books produced at the press.

From there we took the familiar path down to Anil Kumble Circle, and among the highlights was discovering this bilingual sign for Gulzaray Yoosoofi: