Nicholas J. Werner

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1. Overview

Werner occupies a significant place in the history of American machine-based type making both because participated in the beginnings of matrix engraving and because he later wrote about it. He and his business partner Schroeder may have been the first independent commercial matrix engravers in the country; they were certainly the first to do so and to produce a lasting body of work.

Werner was born 1858-03-14 in Belleville, IL. Loy (1899) has an interesting account of his introduction to typefounding and matrix making. Loy says that he began as a printer and, after various jobs, became a compositor in the specimen department of the Central Type Foundry in St. Louis. Loy says that:

"Finding that there was not enough work in the printing line to occupy him constantly, he between times learned the process of dressing and finishing type, at which occupation he spent a considerable portion of his time. Later he had the keeping of matrix and manufacturing records, and his opinions and judgment on new faces and the fitting of them began to be called for, and to a large extent were respected by his superiors. In this way he became more intimately associated with the business of type designing and engraving, as well as with the engravers employed in the house, especially with Gustav Schroeder, with whom he later on was associated with under the title of Schroeder & Werner, both severing their direct connection with the [Central Type] foundry."

The activity at the Central Type Foundry in this period is particularly interesting (in my opinion Loy is too dismissive of it). In 1882, Central acquired a pantograph matrix engraving machine that had been made in Germany and imported in 1880 by the Cincinnati Type Foundry. With this machine, William A. Schraubstädter Gustav F. Schroder cut the working patterns for this (though it is not yet clear whether he did so by hand or by pantograph). Werner seems to have been just an observer for at least the first three faces cut ( Geometric, Geometric Italic, and Morning Glory), but when later the first typewriter-based face, Central's Type Writer was made in the same way Werner notes with pride that he was the first to compose with it and pull a proof of it. (For this history, see primarily Werner's "St. Louis' Place on the Type-Founders' Map" and slightly later "Address".) This was the first production in the US of matrices using pantographic engraving techniques; the first record of Benton's patrix and punch engraving pantograph dates from July 1884. It was also direct matrix engraving about 18 years before Benton revised his pantographs for such work. [1]

Werner and Schroeder left Central in either 1888 (according to "St. Louis' Place ...") or 1889 (according to Loy) and went into partnership as independent commercial matrix engravers ( Schroeder & Werner). Schroeder purchased the Central Type Foundry pantograph and also designed and had made a new machine (which I'm calling, for lack of a real name, the Schroeder-Boyer Pantograph. [2]) In this partnership they cut matrices under contract to various type foundries, including Schroeder's DeVinne for Central (which they started; Werner later finished it on his own). This partnership, though brief, is significant because it was one of the first commercial matrix engraving firms [3]

In 1891, Schroeder decided to move to California (to Mill Valley in the San Francisco bay area). Werner wished to remain in St. Louis (in his later writings he was a great partisan of that city). Schroeder would have been about 30 at that time, and Werner 33. Both continued to work as independent matrix engravers. I presume that the dissolution of this partnership was amicable, as Werner later spoke very highly of Schroeder.

As I write this, I still do not know the answer to the obvious question: who got the pantographs? Schroeder had been trained in hand engraving, so in principle he could have continued working by hand in California. Yet Werner says that he was the owner of the Central pantograph and the designer of the Schroeder-Boyer machine. It would seem odd for him not to retain them. Werner, on the other hand, had no training in hand engraving and must certainly have been using a pantograph in his continued work (which included finishing DeVinne, presumably from working patterns already made).

Around 1889, he says in his "Address", he "functioned, by way of avocation, as editor of Mr. John E. Mangan's Artist Printer."

At some point after the 1895 founding of the Inland Type Foundry by Carl Schraubstädter's sons, Werner joined it and cut several faces. [4] While he was at Inland, they sold a pantograph of their design to the German typefoundry Genzsch & Heyse. Werner instructed (in St. Louis) "one of the proprietors [of G&H], and later their head of machinery construction" (see "An Address").

At Inland, he also instructed Sarah Osborne in pantographic matrix engraving (again, see "An Address").

Inland continued until its purchase in 1912 by ATF, but by at least 1906 Werner was associated with Charles H. Schokmiller (who later founded the Western Type Foundry and the Laclede Type Foundry). In that year he traveled to England to install a Schokmiller pantograph at Stephenson, Blake in Sheffield.

His matrix engraving activities after this are unknown to me, but he continued to write for the trade press, contributing a delightfully curmudgeonly perspective (e.g., "as if the present-day artists amounted to a hill of beans" in "An Address"), some very bad poetry, and a body of information about matrix making and typefounding in the 1880s and 1890s without which our understanding of this great transitional period would be very much impoverished.

2. Literature about Werner

The best two sources for information on Werner are:

Loy, William E., Alastair M. Johnston and Stephen O. Saxe, eds. Nineteenth-Century American Designers and Engravers of Type. New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Books, 2009.

The Saxe/Johnston volume is a reprint, with substantial editorial matter and a comprehensive set of typographical showings, of a series of articles by Loy which appeared in The Inland Printer from 1898 to 1900. I've reprinted the original article by Loy, but, really, you need the Saxe/Johnston edition.

Mullen, Robert A. Recasting a Craft: St. Louis Typefounders Respond to Industrialization (Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 2005) ISBN: 0-8093-26361-1.

See also:

Gress, Edmund G. "N. J. Werner and the Designers of Typefaces." American Printer. Vol. 94, No. 5 (May 1932): 52-53 [FIND]

3. Writings

Werner wrote quite a bit, and not everything is of interest to the student of type making. The most important articles are:

Here's a chronological list [UNFINISHED!], with reprints when possible, of everything I've been able to find that Werner wrote. It is possible that some of the more obscure items that I have not yet been able to locate copies of are by some other "N.J.Werner."

[TO DO:

]

[NOTE TO SELF: The most important articles to track down are: [partly identified article by Werner in American Printer (vol. 79 and/or 1925) ] and Gress. "N. J. Werner and the Designers of Typefaces." American Printer. (1932). ]

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"Pedantri and Langwej." (1904)

"Pedantri and Langwej. [no location]: Fonic Publishing House, 1904. Scanned by Google Books, but not yet released. 7 pages.

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"Paper Sizes ..." (1904)

Paper Sizes and Their Proportions. [no location]: "University Press," 1911. Scanned by Google Books, but not yet released. 18 pages.

[click image to read]

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"A Soliloquy on Spelling." (1910)

"A Soliloquy on Spelling." The Inland Printer, Vol. 44, No. 6 (Mar. 1910): 888. This volume of The Inland Printer was scanned by Google from the University of Minnesota copy and is available via The Hathi Trust. The icon here links to a PDF generated from the page image of this single page from it.

[click image to go to page]

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[Letter on simplified spelling.] (1912)

"Simplified Spelling and Pronunciation." [letter] The Inland Printer Vol. 50, No. 2 (Nov. 1912): 216-217. [TO DO: PROCESS AND REPRINT]

[click image to go to page]

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"... Hieroglypic Types." (1913)

"The Composition of Hieroglyphic Types." The Inland Printer Vol. 50, No. 4 (Jan. 1913): 577-582. [TO DO: PROCESS AND REPRINT]

[click image to go to page]

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"First Aid to a Poet in Need." (1913)

"First Aid to a Poet in Need." The Inland Printer Vol. 50, No. 6 (Mar. 1913): 852. [TO DO: PROCESS AND REPRINT]

[click image to go to page]

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"Shadows of Coming Events." (1916)

"Shadows of COming Events." The Inland Printer Vol. 57, No. 4 (Aug. 1916): 618-621. [TO DO: PROCESS AND REPRINT]

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"Christmas Thought." (1918)

"This Year's Christmas Thought." [no location]: By the author, 1918. Scanned by Google Books, but not yet released. 4 pages.

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[Paper discussion, 1921.]

[A part of a published discussion following a paper presented by] W. R. Colton, "Standardization of Sizes in the Manufacture of Paper" in Paper, Vol. 27, No. 9 (Mar. 9, 1921) and Vol. 27, No. 10 (Mar. 16, 1921).

[NOTE: Have not yet searched The Inland Printer Vol. 71 (Apr.-Sept. 1923)]

[NOTE: The Inland Printer Vol. 72 (Oct. 1923 - Mar. 1924) records only a "greeting received" from Werner.]

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[Otto Wollermann.] (1924)

"Fiftieth Anniversary of a Noted Printer." [Biographical sketch of Otto Wollermann] The Inland Printer Vol. 74, No. 2 (Nov. 1924): 228.

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"The Printing of Hebrew." (1925)

"The Printing of Hebrew." The Inland Printer Vol. 74, No. ? (?): 550.

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[article on printing issues.] (1925)

[article on printing issues.] The Inland Printer Vol. 74, No. ? (?): 584.

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"Germany's Leading Graphic Monthly." (1925)

"Germany's Leading Graphic Monthly." [review] The Inland Printer Vol. 74, No. ? (?): 764.

[NOTE: The Inland Printer Vol. 74 p. 735 probably contains a "greeting received" from Werner.]

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[partly identified article, ca. 1925.]

There is an article by N. J. Werner in either Vol. 79 or a 1925 volume (or possibly vol. 79 in 1925, though that doesn't fit their volume numbering scheme) of The American Printer which includes references to the work done on the Central Type Foundry pantograph.

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"A Criss-Cross Puzzle..." (1925)

"A Criss-Cross Puzzle for Printers, Editors, and Publishers." The Inland Printer Vol. 75, No. 1 (Apr. 1925): 60.

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[unknown] (1925)

[a possible reference, but Google Books' snippet is blank] The Inland Printer Vol. 75, No. ? (?): 447.

[NOTE: Google Books shows no matches for "Werner" in Vol. 76 (1925/1926) of The Inland Printer.]

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"My Christmas Card." (1926)

[no location]: By the author, 1926. Scanned by Google Books, but not yet released.

[click image to read]

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"St. Louis' Place..." (1927)

"Saint Louis' Place on the Type-Founders' Map." The Inland Printer. Vol. 79, No. 5 (August 1927): 764-766.

While some of the material in this article also appeared in his later "Addresss" "Address" (1931) (aka "St. Louis in Type-Founding History"; see below), other pieces of information in it appear nowhere else. For example, it is the only reference I've discovered so far to a pantograph engraving machine made for Schroeder and Werner.

Highlights:

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[something in the "Open Forum"] (1929)

[Something in the "Open Forum" section.] The Inland Printer Vol. 84, No. 1 (Oct. 1929): 97.

[NOTE: In its infinite wisdom, Google Books will not allow Vol. 85 of The Inland Printer to be searched.]

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"History of the Type Case..." (1930)

"The History of the Type Case, and Efforts Made to Improve It." The Inland Printer Vol. 86, No. 1 (Oct. 1930): 86.

[NOTE: The only result shown in a Google Books search of Vol. 87 of The Inland Printer is a reference to Werner in a discussion of Oz Cooper's typefaces.]

[click image to read]

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An Address. (St. Louis, 1931)

Werner, N. J. An Address by N. J. Werner of St. Louis. St. Louis: [St. Louis Club of Printing House Craftsmen, 1931. The bibliographic information concerning this item is problematic. It is a small booklet containing the text of an address by Werner "At a meeting of the St. Louis Club of Printing House Craftsmen" and presumably published by them. However, it bears no printed indication of publisher, location, or date. The copy reproduced here, from the St. Louis Public Library, carries annotations in an unknown hand on the cover indicating a date of 1931 and names for the two sections of the address ("St. Louis' Part in Typefounding" and "Some Thoughts about Typography.") The copy bears a stamp from the library indicating an acquisition date of January 13, 1934.

My thanks to Robert A. Mullen of Xanadu Press (author of Recasting a Craft) for kindly giving me a copy of his photocopy of this work.

This "Address" was reprinted under the title "St. Louis in Type-Founding History" (see below) in 1941 in Share Your Knowledge Review.

[click image to read]

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"St. Louis in Type-Founding History." (1931/1941)

This is a reprint, under the title "St. Louis in Type-Founding History," of "An Address" (see above) delivered probably in 1931 at a meeting of the St. Louis Club of Printing House Craftsmen. In Share Your Knowledge Review, Vol. 22, No. 3 (January 1941): 21-26.

Scanned by me from my copy of the original. 600dpi RGB JPGs wrapped in a PDF. (46 Megabytes)

This 1931 address by Werner is an important source for several items of typefounding history which are not well discussed elsewhere. It is worth enumerating them:

He speaks highly of Schroeder and Wiebking, but less so of Goudy ("of whose designs I would give case-room to but two") and is strongly prejudiced against "modernistic" type and typography ("By modernistic I mean, of course, the disreputable meaning the word has gained in late years because of the labors of freakish artists" ... "as if the present-day artists amounted to a hill of beans." pp. 23-24)

He also discusses his role in the origin of the American point system and the development of lining standards.

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"Wiebking Created ..." (1932)

Werner, N. J. "Wiebking Created Popular Faces in Chicago, Friend Discloses." The Inland Printer. Vol. 90, No. 2 (November 1932): 71-73.

The icon here links to a presentation of this article in the Notebook on Robert Wiebking .

4. Typefaces Cut

Note that the patent dates on some (e.g., Novelty Script on March 1893) don't quite line up with the dates of the Shroeder and Werner partnership (1888/9 - 1891).

Antique No. 6 (designed and cut by Werner for Central). [5]

Becker (either designed or engraved, or both, by Werner at Inland). [7]

Brandon (either designed or engraved, or both, by Werner at Inland). [7]

Bruce Title (either designed or engraved, or both, by Werner at Inland). [7] Saxe notes that Bruce Title was renamed Menu by BB&S.

Caxton Bold, four larger sizes (cut by Werner for Marder, Luse). [5]

Corbitt (either designed or engraved, or both, by Werner at Inland). [7]

DeVinne, first eight sizes (Schroeder & Werner, for Central). Remainder of series (Werner for Central). [5]

DeVinne Condensed (designed and cut by Werner for Central). [5]

DeVinne Italic (designed and cut by Werner for Central). [5]

Edwards (either designed or engraved, or both, by Werner at Inland). [7] Saxe notes that Edwards was renamed Bizarre Bold by BB&S.

Era (Schroeder & Werner, for BB&S) (renamed Pastel) Loy says that Schroeder & Werner cut it. McGrew attributes its design to both Werner and Schroeder, but Werner in 1931 attributed its design to Schroeder alone. He also notes that as Pastel it was much used in (silent) film cards. [5]

Façade Condensed (Schroeder & Werner, for Boston Type Foundry) (caps previously by Julius Herriet, Jr.) [5]

Flemish Extended (cut by Werner for Stephenson, Blake). [5]

Francis (either designed or engraved, or both, by Werner at Inland). [7]

Gothic No. 8 (designed and possibly engraved by Werner at Inland). [5]

Hermes (Schroeder & Werner, for Central) [5]

Inland (either designed or engraved, or both, by Werner at Inland). [7]

Jefferson (Schroeder & Werner, for Central) [5]

Johnston Gothic, lowercase (Schroeder & Werner, for Central) [5]

Midgothic (designed and cut by Werner for Central). [5]

Multiform (Schroeder & Werner, for Central) [5]

Novelty Script (Schroeder & Werner, for Central) [5]

Quentell (cut by Werner for Central from designs by W. P. Quentell). [5]

Skinner (designed and possibly engraved by Werner at Inland). [5] Saxe notes that Skinner was renamed Menu Roman by BB&S.

Victoria Italic, eight sizes of (Schroeder & Werner, for Central). Remainder of series (Werner for Central). [5] N.B., Schroeder later cut a lowercase from 6 to 24 point for Pacific States Type Foundry [6]

Condensed Woodward (designed and possibly engraved by Werner at Inland). [5]

Extended Woodward (designed and possibly engraved by Werner at Inland). [5]

[unidentified face "shortly to be put upon the market" in 1899] (designed and possibly engraved by Werner at Inland). [5]

[another unidentified face "shortly to be put upon the market" in 1899] (designed and possibly engraved by Werner at Inland). [5]

5. Notes

1. See also the Notebook on making matrices by pantograph Beyond (and Before) Benton.

2. Schroeder's purchase of the Central machine is mentioned by Werner in his 1932 obituary of Robert Wiebking . The "Schroeder-Boyer" machine is mentioned in Werner's 1927 "St. Louis' Place on the Type-Founders' Map".

3. In 1889, Benton, Waldo & Co. leased patrix (and punch) engraving pantographs to the Minneapolis Electro Matrix Company and the Electro Matrix Engraving Company (NY). At about this time, Robert Wiebking, in partnership with Henry Hardinge began commercial matrix engraving. There was more commercial typographical matrix making going on in the late 1880s and the 1890s than is generally acknowledged.

4. Loy. In Werner's own writing he merely suggests that he strongly influenced this foundry.

5. Loy, William E. "Designers and Engravers of Type," No. 19 - Nicholas J. Werner. The Inland Printer. Vol. 23, No. 5 (1899-08), p. 595.

6. Loy, William E. "Designers and Engravers of Type," No. 11 - Gustav F. Schroeder. The Inland Printer. Vol. 22, No. 3 (1898-12), p. 338.

7. Illustrated and identified in Saxe, Stephen O. and Alastair M. Johnston, eds., William E. Loy. Nineteenth-Century American Designers and Engravers of Type. (New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Books, 2009), but not mentioned in Loy's original text.


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