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Alan Tabor Calligraphy Collection

Date range: c.1905-1970s

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Alan Lansdown Tabor (1883–1957) began his career as a calligrapher at the age of fourteen, when he was apprenticed to an illuminator in King Street, Manchester. His early pieces show a remarkable artistic talent and around 1908 Tabor established his own calligraphy studio in St Ann’s Passage off St Ann’s Square. He later relocated to larger premises at 11 Albert Square, opposite the Town Hall, where he would eventually employ a team of up to ten people. Tabor’s business was sustained by the production of commercial calligraphy for local councils, commercial businesses and other organisations, both unique, hand-painted works and printed multiples. The business became a limited company in 1947, and was continued after Tabor’s death by his son, Alan Mckenzie Tabor, and daughter-in-law, Betty. They continued to produce addresses and certificates into the 1980s.

The collection includes over twenty examples of Alan Lansdown Tabor’s own unique calligraphic works, both in bound form and as single sheets, on paper and parchment. They are of outstanding quality, display a variety of scripts and are richly illuminated. The texts are by, amongst others, Thomas Gray, Rudyard Kipling, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Rabindranath Tagore and Alfred Lord Tennyson. The collection also contains over sixty examples of printed long-service awards produced for a wide variety of businesses, some still familiar – such as W. & R. Jacob & Co., makers of cream crackers - others long gone. These highly decorative certificates were illustrated with the firms’ premises and products. They were held in stock and, when one was required for presentation to an employee, the requisite details were inscribed by hand.

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