"A designer is only as good as his/her references."
You must take that with a grain of salt, but I very much believe that to be true. One of my favorite activities is searching out and purchasing new additions for my reference library. I do frequent all the expected spots (Wacko, Hennessey & Ingalls, etc) but I also try to find unusual books and ephemera from all sorts of places (junk stores, antique malls, EBay, etc).
I recently found these on a bookshelf of a local retailer and had to add them to my collection. Thanks (or, curses, depending on your point of view) to our digital era, traditional hand lettering is DEFINITELY a dead craft. With that being said, a computer is NO SUBSTITUTE for traditional draftsmanship, especially when it comes to typography. I almost always start every commercial assignment with my pens, pencils and paper before I ever sit down at the computer. Why? Well, for one, you can work out 50 rough thumbnail sketches in the same time it takes for a computer to boot up. And another reason is that the digital era and infinite stacks of font software have made it possible for everybody everywhere to churn out poor design faster than ever...hence the need to keep a strong element of the analog integrated within my own process.
(Now, if I can just find a way to incorporate a KICK ASS monster truck into my next assignment....)