Monday, February 27, 2023

Lettering: Vincent Pacella, Photo-Lettering Inc. and ITC

Vincent Anthony Pacella was born on September 11, 1934, in Manhattan, New York, New York, according to the New York, New York, Birth Index at His full name was recorded in the Index to Public Records, 1994–2019, also at

In the 1940 United States Census, Pacella was the oldest of two brothers born to Anthony and Margaret. His father was a textile finisher. They resided at 2460 Hoffman Street in the Bronx.

According to the 1950 census, Pacella, his parents, brother and sister, Phylis, lived in the Bronx at 625 Crescent Avenue on the 1st floor. 

Pacella was a student at New York City’s School of Industrial Art (known today as the High School of Art and Design). He graduated in 1952. 

In Life with Letters--as They Turned Photogenic (1981), Edward Rondthaler mentioned Pacella several times. On page 184 is a layout of the Photo-Lettering office in 1952 and a list of employees from 1936 to 1954. Pacella joined Photo-Lettering in 1953 when he was nineteen years old. However, Pacella was mentioned in the chapter about the year 1951, page 73. At that time he was seventeen and a student. 

On April 9, 1955, Pacella and Anne Queally obtained a marriage license in the Bronx. Rondthaler said she joined Photo-Lettering in 1954 and was “at the switchboard and typewriter”.

In the chapter about 1956, Rondthaler wrote
After a few years Vincent Pacella, returning from military service abroad, took over the night leadership and measured up ably to its rigorous requirements. Vince had the art school background, mechanical aptitudes, warm personality, reliability, self-starting zip and artistic perception that have made him a versatile photo-letterer and are rapidly making him an able type designer. I’ve always had a high regard for the advice he gives a promising newcomer: “If you want to be a photo-letterer never ride the subway without studying the ads in the car, Figure out how you’d photo-letter them in the most efficient way. Mentally match each style on an ad with one of ours. Then verify it when you get hold of a catalog. Remember its name and number. There’s no better way to train yourself. Keep doing it until it becomes a habit and you enjoy it.” No doubt it was Vince’s thousands of subway and commuter rides that developed in him keen sensitivity to alphabet design and identification. Photo-Lettering has quite a few who are remarkably skilled in style identification, but I doubt if anyone anywhere is as skilled as Vince. 
For the International Typeface Corporation, Pacella produced ITC Cushing (1982) and ITC Pacella (1987). 

1982, ITC Cushing specimen book
... ITC Cushing, issued under license from American Type Founders Company, was designed by Vincent Pacella, and features, in addition to the large x-height in popular use today, and the neat letterfit accommodated by photographic and digital typesetters, the long, bracketed serifs of the ATF version. The capitals were changed to better match the weight of the lowercase letters. In the italics, the sloping serifs of the original were changed to linear type serifs. Another modification, in the interest of improved letterfit and ease of readability, is a new point at which ascenders join the capital letters. ...

U&lc., May 1987, announced the release of ITC Pacella. 
Vincent Pacella has been vitally involved in every typeface that ITC has released. He oversees and directs the exacting process of preparing master artwork for ITC Subscriber companies. As part of this process he must fine-tune character spacing, make subtle but important changes to character shapes, ensure design consistency within each typeface and throughout a family. On occasion he has added characters missing from supplied renderings, and even worked in harmony with the original type designer to fill out a family range. …
1987, ITC Pacella specimen book
Vincent Pacella has been vitally involved in every typeface that ITC has released. He has created hundreds of display typestyles for Photo-Lettering, Inc. in New York, as well as ITC Cushing for International Typeface Corporation. ITC Pacella is the second ITC release created by Mr. Pacella and the first to carry his name. ...

U&lc., May 1987

Pacella passed away on October 28, 2009. The Social Security Death Index said his last known residence was West End, North Carolina. 

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