The Barth Type Caster

ATF Constituent Foundries

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NOTE: The information here, while correct, is now being maintained in a more complete version in the "Original Foundry Numbers" section of the CircuitousRoot Notebook American Type Founders: Early History Through 1906 . In particular, that presentation discusses the ambiguities of the only previously published account of ATF foundry numbers in Bidwell's "Bibliographical Note" to the 1981 Garland reprint of the 1895/6 "Collective Specimen Book."

1. The Numeric Foundry Designations

(For more on the early history of ATF, especially its consolidation, see: ../../../../ Foundry Specimens & Typography -> American Type Founders -> Early History through 1906 . While this present Notebook contains some early history of ATF, any significant updates to our knowledge of that history will probably go there, not here.)

At some very early point the foundries which were amalgamated into ATF were assigned numbers. I am unaware of any complete list of these, but the numbers for those constituent foundries which also received single-letter designations (see the next section) were recorded by Richard L. Hopkins in conversation with Theo Rehak (whose information, in turn, may have come from Stevens L. Watts. {Rehak/Hopkins 2014}. The facts that one of these numbers is 23, that no number exceeds 23, and that there were 23 foundries in the initial amalgamation of ATF strongly suggets that these numbers were those assigned to the 23 original constituent foundries.

Many of these foundries were closed or consolidated with others very early in the history of ATF, and perhaps because of this these numbers do not seem to play a part in the later organization of matrix and mold material. (In at least one case, though, a foundry number became a part of a type name. MacKellar, Smiths and Jordan was Foundry No. 4. Their face No. 71 was Caslon Oldstyle. At some point in ATF's history, this face was renamed Caslon Oldstyle No. 471 (which was later identified as ATF Series 50; ATF series names are unrelated to typeface names). So these numbers are recorded here primarily for historical, not practical, interest.

The numbers which Rehak/Hopkins report are are:

These same numbers are also reported in a published source: the "Bibliographical Note" by John Bidwell in the 1981 Garland Publishing reprint of the 1895/6 ATF "Collective Specimen Book." {ATF Specimen Book 1896}, pp. xii-xiii. However, the history of this information is complex and as presented by Bidwell it contains some ambiguity.

In a letter dated July 23, 1965 to the typefounder and scholar Paul Hayden Duensing, the former ATF salesman and manager Stevens L. Watts, who was responsible for preserving important parts of ATF's history (often against the wishes of upper management), reported at least these foundry numbers. (He may or may not have listed more; this letter has not been published and if the original still exists I have not seen it.) Bidwell used this information to identify these foundries for the Garland reprint of the "Collective Specimen Book." (All of the numbers identified in this list except 23 are used in the "Collective Specimen Book" to identify originating or manufacturing foundries for particular faces.)

The following foundries were a part of the original amalgamation and probably received numeric designations, but those numbers are as yet unknown to me:

See also the Notebook on ATF and the Early Barth.

Aside: Annenberg prefers the spelling "M'Leester," but notes that both "M'Leester" and "McLeester" were used. {Annenberg 1994}, p. 115). The early ATF Annual Reports use "McLeester."

2. The Single-Letter Foundry Designations

By the 1897 Annual Report (fiscal year ending Aug. 31, 1897), manufacturing operations had been consolidated into eight foundries. This consolidation may have happened as early as 1894/5 (the 1895 Annual Report is the last in which consolidation is mentioned, and it suggests a strong move to consolidate). See the Notebook on ATF and the Early Barth for more details.

At some point, these eight foundry operations were given single-letter designations. This probably didn't occur before the consolidations in the 1894/5 fiscal year (as the letters form a continuous series). It must have happened by the time (or when) the foundries were consolidated into the single Central Plant in Jersey City in 1904-1906. (See the Notebook on ATF and the Early Barth for what is known of the timeline of this consolidation.)

The single-letter foundry designations are these (with notes about the operations consolidated at each):

At present I have no information on the consolidation or closure of:

The identification of the foundries by letter is from {Rehak/Hopkins 2014}. The information on the consolidations comes from the early Annual Reports of the Company; see the Notebook on ATF and the Early Barth for more details. It is unlikely that the smaller foundries contribued much material when they were closed and merged with others. The Bruce foundry was acquired by ATF in 1901, and apparently was not assigned a number.

It is of course likely that the plant of the St. Louis Type Foundry was merged into the much larger Central Type Foundry. However, the only information to this effect that could be discovered by Mullen in his excellent history of typefounding in St. Louis ( {Mullen 2005}, p. 73) comes from Henry Lewis Bullen, and Bullen cannot be trusted even when he accidentally tells the truth.

3. Later Mergers

The following foundries were acquired by ATF after the initial amalgamation. It does not appear that they were assigned numbers. Only the Bruce Type Foundry was assigned a letter (J). It was the only foundry acquired before the consolidation into the single Central Plant in New Jersey. Some information on the numbering of the BB&S and Keystone typefaces when merged into ATF survives.

The Bresnan Type Foundry seems to have been dissolved in 1895 rather than acquired.

The Hansen Type Foundry continued independently until 1922 and then seems to have been dissolved, not acquired.

Several other foundries (e.g. Empire, Sterling) founded in reaction to, or simply later than, the ATF amalgamation were not acquired by ATF.

The identification of the Bruce foundry as 'J' and the face number ranges for Keystone and BB&S are from {Rehak/Hopkins 2014}. Other (conflicting) data for BB&S face numbers from {McGrew 1993}. p. 367. Information on the other mergers is from {Annenberg 1994}.

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