Nontypographical Cuts and Ornaments

Stereotyped, Electrotyped, Photoengraved

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In the Stereotyping, Electrotyping, and Photoengraving sections, there should be in each a subsection of specimen literature for cuts and decorative material offered from stock (as opposed to cuts made to special order for a customer) for relief ("letterpress") printing. However, it isn't always obvious from the surviving specimens what process was used, and in many cases cuts were available in multiple forms (e.g., both stereotype mats and electrotyped shells) - so I've put them all in a single section here.

For decorative material cast as type or borders (as well as decorative material produced or sold by a typefoundry, regardless of process), see ../ Noncomposing Typecasters -> Foundry Specimens & Typography. Note also that the producers of casting machinery (Linotype, Lanston Monotype, Ludlow, etc.) produced considerable decorative material (in matrix form, as linecaster border slides, or as Monotype decorative rule molds). For links into that, see the List of All Type Specimen and Matrix Information on CircuitousRoot .

In traditional printing, items such as those illustrated here are called "ornaments" (when primarily abstract) or "cuts" (when primarily pictorial). In the brief era of phototypesetting, the term "clip art" became a common synonym for "cut"; this term has survived into the digital era. A glance through specimens of cuts from the early and mid 20th century reveals just how derivative 21st century digital "clipart" collections are.

IMPORTANT NOTE 1: It is the nature of collections of cuts from this period that they included cuts of trademarks and other intellectual property. The documents reprinted here have all passed into the public domain as documents, and are reprinted here as entire documents for their historical interest. This does not, however, imply any right to use any particular item which remains a live trademark or property. Other than that, do with them what you will.

IMPORTANT NOTE 2: These are documents from an earlier era, where the racism, sexism, xenophobia, and bigotry which, regrettably, still permeate our society flowed closer to the surface. These documents contain some items which are offensive in their attitudes toward race, gender, nationality, intelligence, and several other categories. To censor them, however, would be to falsify the historical record and add ignorance to insensitivity. It is better to see the past as it was, for what it was.

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[click image to read at The Hathi Trust]
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Zeese. Electrotypes. (1891)

Specimens of Electrotypes Comprising Cuts, Borders, Initials, Ornaments, Etc. (Chicago: A. Zeese & Co., 1891). Primarily electrotype plates, with some lithogravures. (Lithogravure is a process of photoengraving onto typemetal plates which includes the use of "tint" lines and/or dots, which tints are "usually inserted by means of the Ben Day machine." See Jenkins, Harry, et. al. A Manual of Photoengraving. (Chicago: Inland Printer Company, 1902.) p. 97. Online via Google Books.)

This book has been digitized from the New York Public Library copy by Google Books and is available via both Google Books and The Hathi Trust. The icon at left links to the version at The Hathi Trust. For convenience, here is a local copy of the Google Books version: zeese-1891-google-nypl-Specimens_of_electrotypes_comprising_cut.pdf (80 Megabytes) and here is a local copy of the Hathi Trust version, assembled from the individual page scans into a single PDF (863 Megabytes): zeese-electrotypes-1891-hathi-nyp-33433000824502-png.pdf .

[click image to read at The Internet Archive]
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Will Bradley's Art Service (ca. 1914)

A Booklet of Designs. (NY: Will Bradley's at Service for Advertisers, ca. 1914.) Electrotyped plates, stereotype mats, Multigraph plates, and lantern slides.

A digitization of the University of California copy of this book, including original page scans, is online at The Internet Archive (; the image here links to that copy online. For convenience, here are local copies of the PDF version and the much nicer DjVu version.

[click image to read]
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Syndicuts Catalog No. 9 (1951)

Syndicuts, Inc. (formerly Horace P. Brouillet Syndicate). Catalog No. 9 (Duluth, MN: Syndicuts, Inc., 1951-01-01.) Process not specified.

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East Texas Engraving Company (1951-1953)

This is a catalog done in the form of (and on paper the quality of) a newspaper, under the name East Texas Cut News by the East Texas Engraving Company. The cuts were supplied typically as stereotype mats with, sometimes, the option of electrotyped plates or zinc etchings. The originals I have are in extremely poor condition, and I've done nothing to clean them up in the digitization.

[click image to read]
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IES. "Foundry Cuts" (1982)

Electrotyped cuts; I recognize quite a number of these as copies of ATF ornaments.

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