[WARNING: CircuitousRoot is simply a set of Notebooks, and so is by nature always pretty messy and necessarily incomplete. But this particular set of Notebooks outdoes all the rest for messiness and incompleteness. Part of this is because it's an impossibly large topic. But part of it is that after I began it I came to realize that the concept of a "typeface" is a modern notion which cannot be applied to types from before about 1870 . In particular, any attempt to do so will render the numbered ornamented types of the mid-19th century incomprehensible. (Really; it doesn't work.) I haven't yet rewritten this Notebook in light of that deep realization, and it shows.]
This is an index of types, at the level of the manufacturer's series. I intend it ultimately to cover all metal type (and perhaps some wood type); digital type is included only when relevant to these. The questions addressed here include:
The idea here is to list, concisely, as much information about the types/series as I can. Actual showings of the face, when available, are (or will be) in various foundry and matrix manufacturer specimen books (linked from here).
There will be various references to this set of Notebooks as a "typeface index." I began it before I realized that "typeface" is a modern concept which cannot adequately describe types before about 1870 , but by the time I came to this realization it was too late to change.
(For definitions of "series," "family," etc. see the Terminological Note.)
Most early types were not named. These are identified under the name of their foundry. Thus, for a two-line small pica of 1849 by Stephenson, Blake see the S section. However, for a face named "Ornamented" with qualifiers, such as Two-Line Brevier Ornamented, No. 7 by Bruce, see the O section (even though "Ornamented" is more a category designator than a name).
Note: Decorative materials and cuts are by their nature hard to classify. Sometimes they were supplied as cast types, sometimes as stereotype plates, sometimes as stereotype mats, and sometimes as electroformed shells. Typefoundries might supply them in any of these forms. In stereotype/electrotype forms they were also often supplied by cut services and even by individual printing houses (both for sale and for use in their own work). Finally, it is not always easy to determine from specimens the printing process a decorative item might have been intended for (relief printing, offset lithography, mimeography, etc.)
When it is reasonably likely that the intended process was relief ("letterpress") printing, specimens of decorative material and cuts are integrated into the index of typefaces here. For material used by other processes, see that process; see especially ../../../../../ Typefounding, Lettering, & Printing -> Mimeography (Stencil Duplicating).
Quasi-exception: I haven't yet gotten around to indexing the specimens of ../../../ Nontypographical Cuts and ornaments. (I may never get to it, as they tended not to have useful names and as there was simultaneously great diversity and considerably copying.)
The most significant resource for researching US typeface design patents is the Database of American Typeface Design Patents, 1842-1899, by Jane W. Roberts and Stephen O. Saxe.
N.B., The US Patent Office digitized its original patent documents at 300 dpi bi-level (not greyscale) and then deliberately destroyed the original documents. The digital versions shown here, wretched as they are, are all that remain.
The snippets showing each typeface series are intended as a quick aid to memory; they are not intended for detailed series comparisons. Thus they are done to a constant on-screen width and are selected from the available specimens to give a reasonably representative sample of the series. They are not in correct scale to each other, even for related series. Thus extended faces will tend in the samples to look shorter and condensed faces will tend to look taller. For example:
[TO DO] Go through the following and identify each specimen showing of a face (or other material, e.g. Tariff characters, ornaments, etc.) The point here is to try to pin down when it was first shown, and therefore know more nearly when it was introduced.
All of the type specimen documents reproduced or extracted from here are in the public domain due to their publication without copyright notice when such notice was required, or the failure to renew copyright as was then required, or the expiration of all possible copyright. The reproductions of/from them here remain in the public domain.
All portions of this document not noted otherwise are Copyright © 2009-2011 by David M. MacMillan and Rollande Krandall.
Circuitous Root is a Registered Trademark of David M. MacMillan and Rollande Krandall.
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons "Attribution - ShareAlike" license. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ for its terms.
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