The Type bar at mfaNow

Thank you to all the volunteers who came out to hand type letters for the guests of #mfaNOW. We have gotten the best feedback from typers and guests.


The Type Bar will be taking dictation at the MFA Overnight on December 9. We will have a dozen typists on hand for your letter-writing pleasure. Supported by the Fenway Community Center, we will be hand typing your letters to be mailed for free anywhere in the world! Stop by and dictate your message. Or get help crafting your note from our volunteer typists. We will make sure we get it down on paper and send it out via postal mail in the morning. Here are some pics from the last overnight where we typed nearly 200 letters!


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The Type bar offers free hand typed letters mailed to anywhere in the world. We use vintage manual typewriters, stationery and postage. We type, seal and stamp your message to be mailed to anyone. Type Bar guests enjoy the art of slow communication.

How it works: A Type Bar ‘Speaker’ participant dictates a letter to a ‘Typist’ participant. Using the manual typewriter as a tool moves The Type Bar outside of normal experience. The Speaker has a chance to reflect as s/he composes a letter out loud. The Typist explores listening and the creative process by helping hand type the letter. With no delete or cut-and-paste, the Speaker and Typist are faced with the apparent permanence of their creation. Letters are then adorned with clippings, quotes, art and vintage postage stamps. This completes the perception that the message transcends routine. Letters are then either mailed or hand delivered to their recipients by The Type Bar service.

The purpose of the Type Bar is to stop time and allow for participants to share messages that may not otherwise be communicated.

The Service

  • The Type Bar provides manual typewriters, vintage postage & stationery, letter enclosures & extras
  • Participants volunteer as Speaker or Typist for the duration of at least one letter to a real recipient
  • Prompts, stage setting, or themes may be offered depending on the environment or venue
  • The Typist and Speaker craft the best message and format for the letter according to the purpose
  • Some Typists choose to read letters back to their Speakers before sealing
  • The Speaker then chooses a selection of vintage postage stamps from The Type Bar collection
  • Additional mail art, poetry, prints or clippings may be placed in, or on the envelopes
  • Participants address the envelopes and The Type Bar collects and mails or hand delivers the letters.

The Type Bar at Fenway a letter writing heavenType-Bar-Group-Barnes-and-Noble

The Type Bar Gentlemen of Chance 1% Type Bar at Honolulu Sharks and ShipsType Bar Hitomi and Matttype bar exhibit future of western

Type Bar from Above Universal Babel Service


type bar letter to friend at future of western


The Type Bar began in 2002 as an exploration of slow communication and community. Arthur Grau (a.k.a. Circa) called on friends to name and offer the Universal Babel Service, as it was then known. The Service has offered hand typed letters for all kinds of people and purposes. Hand typed letters have been used in: interactive art installations, mindfulness workshops, marketing campaigns, political rallies, fundraising appeals, youth literacy projects, elder engagement, and private parties. The Type Bar demonstrates the art of slow communication.

Huge thanks go out to the many collaborators have contributed to the creation process to bring The Type Bar to its current format.

Letter writing can be a creative and daunting project. These days, we are so accustomed to quick messages and utilitarian content that we may overlook some of the art of crafting communication. Fellow letter enthusiasts over at Letters of Note keep an excellent blog with archives of hundreds of notable letters for inspiration. Some are hand typed and others hand written. At the Type Bar we provide examples and guidance to help make your letters become something awesome.