Typeface Index: Ornamented No. 1515 (Bruce)

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1. Names

As is the case with many 19th century typefaces, this one has had several names. In referring to its 19th century versions, it is perhaps best identified by its regularized name from the Bruce foundry, Bruce Ornamented No. 1515.

It appeared in earlier listings by the Bruce foundry under names which differed by size (e.g., "Pica Ornamented, No. 20" and "Great-Primer Ornamented, No. 12" were different sizes of this same face). It also appeared in versions by other foundries (such as Farmer, Little & Co. Hagar Type Foundry, and Marr Typefounding Co., Ltd. (Edinburgh & London). In its history, though, it has been most strongly associated with Bruce, so using "Bruce Ornamented No. 1515" as the general name for the 19th century versions of this typeface, when not referring to a particular version of it, would seem least confusing.

This typeface became known in 20th century revivals and later as Belgian (q.v.) (unrelated to Belgian Ornamented, a wood type by Page from 1870), but it was not known by that name in the 19th century. It is perhaps best to refer to these 20th and 21st century versions as "Belgian" rather than "Ornamented No. 1515."

2. Origins and Patent

2.1. Titling Versions

The precise origins of this typeface are not yet known. It would appear that a titling (all capitals) version was developed and used first, and that a lowercase was made in 1867 to complement it.

The earliest showing yet found is of a titling version from a copy of the November 1865 specimen book of Bruce's New-York Type-Foundry in the collection of the noted type scholar and type specimen collector Stephen O. Saxe In this specimen, it is shown in one size only, and identified by size and number as "Two-Line Great-Primer Ornamented, No. 10". (In the American Point System, this would correspond very approximately to 36 points.)

The origins of this face in its titling version (apparently the original version) is not clear. In the re-issue of this typeface for the Photo-Typositor it is asserted that the capitals date from the early 1860s, before the lowercase, and that they might have been designed by David Bruce (I presume that this means David Bruce Jr., and not David Wolfe Bruce). This information was presumably from T. J. Lyons and is therefore of good authority, but Lyons' own sources are unknown. Stephen O. Saxe notes that it was quite common at that time for ornamented types to originate in Europe and be copied in America. I do not yet know of any European version of this type prior to 1877, however.

Saxe further notes that it is significant that the later Bruce showings of this type as a full uppercase and lowercase typeface state that the lowercase and figures are patented, but say nothing of the uppercase. This suggests strongly that the titling version was not patented (by anyone) and was in free circulation prior to the development of the lowercase in 1867.

The next showing of which I am aware - also discovered by Stephen O. Saxe in his collection - is from a Hagar & Co., Type Founders specimen book dated April 1866. It is shown in only one size (the same Two-Line Great Primer as the Bruce 1865 showing), identified as "Two Line Great Primer Ornamented, No. 12".

The relationship between the Bruce 1865 and Hagar 1866 versions is unknown, as is the involvement, if any, of David Bruce, Jr. with either.

A titling version next appears in an 1867 specimen book of Farmer, Little & Co.. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it is also Two-Line Great Primer.

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(The number in the specimen reproduced above has been obscured. It is "13" ("Two Line Great Primer Ornamented No. 13") as confirmed by Stephen O. Saxe through reference to an unmarked copy in his collection.)

2.2. Full Versions

The lowercase of this typeface was patented in 1867 by Julius Herriet [Sr.] Unfortunately, the surviving official patent document, a low-quality scan of what would appear to have been a photocopy, is almost unreadable. In the patent specification, this typeface is called "Ornamental Antique-Shaded," but that is really more a descriptive phrase than a name; it is not elsewhere associated with this typeface as its name.

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US Design Patent 2,577

US design patent 2,577. "Design for Printers' Type." Issued 1867-02-12 to Julius Herriet [Sr.]. Assigned to David Wolfe Bruce.

See the section below on Showings by the Bruce Foundry for examples.

Loy, in his 1899 article on Herriet [Sr.] says that Herriet "designed, or cut, or both" for the Bruce's New-York Type-Foundry a long list of typefaces which includes Ornamented No. 1515. Stephen O. Saxe, in his illustrated edition of Loy, identifies Ornamented No. 1515 and provides an example of it (with lowercase and uppercase) from a Bruce foundry specimen book in his collection.

3. Showings by the Bruce Foundry

This typeface is shown in An Abridged Specimen of Printing Types Made at Bruce's New-York Type-Foundry (1869) (on p. 103 of the original, which is page image 215 of the Hathi Trust digital version). The same showing is repeated in the 1874 reissue of this specimen (still on p. 103, which is page image 121 of the Hathi Trust version). It is shown in both lowercase and uppercase in these in five sizes, all pre-point system:

Here it is from the 1874 reissue. Note that it specifies explicitly "Lowercase and Figures Patented" (but not uppercase).

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It is shown as Ornamented No. 1515 in six sizes (10, 12, 18, 24, 36, and 48 point) in lowercase and uppercase in the 1901 Bruce specimen (p. 246, which is page image 313 of the Hathi Trust version):

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4. Copy by the Marr Foundry (UK)

A copy of this face cast by the Marr Typefounding Co., Ltd. (Edinburgh & London) is shown as No. 303 in the second edition of Nicolete Gray's Nineteenth Century Ornamented Typefaces (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1976). Gray dates it to circa 1877, does not name it, and associates it with Bruce's 1867 patent. I cannot find it in the 1938 first edition of Gray.

A page from the 1877 Marr specimen, showing this typeface, is reproduced in de Jong, Cees W., ed., Alston W. Purvis, and Jan Tholenaar. Type: A Visual History of Typefaces and Graphic Styles Vol. 1. (Köln: Taschen, 2009): 175.

5. Preservation in the Twentieth Century

In 20th century collections, Bruce Ornamented No. 1515 is represented several times.

It was held in the T. J. Lyons Collection in three sizes (12, 24, and 48 pt.) and was shown by Lyons in these sizes in a specimen. It was also shown by Lyons in 48 point in a very early specimen, Preliminary Showing[:] Printing Types of Yore #1 (Boston, MA: T. J. Lyons Press, [no date, but printed when telephone exchanges were written out in full: "STADIUM 6510"]). Photographs of this specimen, by David Greer, are online at http://www.flickr.com/photos/39182740@N04/5563500275/in/set-72157626362570638. Lyons' numbers for his holdings were No. 354 (12 pt), No. 248 (24 pt) and No. 54 (48 pt). At some point, Lyons named this face "Belgian."

It is shown, in 12 point and 17 point [sic], in a specimen of the Morgan collection (now at the Smithsonian) as "Ornamented No. 1515 J. Herriet, designer 2-12-67 Bruce". (My thanks to Stephen O. Saxe for this information; I do not have this specimen.) The 17 point size is almost certainly Great Primer. Stephen O. Saxe has confirmed that measurement by micrometer of several fonts of pre-point-system Great Primer in his collection suggest that it was often closer to 17 points in size rather than its nominal 18 point equivalent.

It is shown, in 12 and 18 pt., in Bill Thorniley's Specimens of Printing Types: 1700 to 1900 (1967) (information, once again, from Stephen O. Saxe). It is identified in this book as "Belgian," but this volume probably postdates Lyons' use of "Belgian" for it.

I cannot find it in Phillips Old-Fashioned Type Book (NY: Frederic Nelson Phillips, 1945), and Stephen O. Saxe notes that it is not in a later edition of this work that he checked.

See Belgian for the further history of this typeface in the 20th and 21st centuries.

6. Titling and Kerning Technical Issues

This typeface presents an interesting set of technical issues to the type designer and typefounder - issues which are still significant in the 21st century casting of it ( Belgian, as cast for P.A.S.T. in 2012).

It was apparently developed initially as a "titling" typeface. Titling typefaces consist of capitals only, but there's more to them than that. Because a titling face is capitals-only, it is generally designed and cut so that the face more nearly fills the body of the type than would the capital letters of an upper-and-lower-case type.

This presents obvious issues when designing a corresponding lowercase. You can't just make a new lowercase and use it with the old titling face; you must re-align and re-cast the previously titling sorts so that they are now uppercase sorts. In the case of this particular typeface, this issue is intensified because the dominant characteristic of this typeface is a pattern of points projecting above and below the main letterforms.

One way to minimize (though probably not eliminate) this issue is to cast the characters with vertical kerns. [ note 1] David Greer has examined a Pica body size font of this typeface, cast by the Bruce foundry. He observed that the descenders of the lowercase do in fact have a kern of about three points.

The other way to address this issue is to make the face of the type smaller on its body. This seems to have been done as well. David W. Peat, who has had the 24 point Duensing matrices of Belgian cast, observes that its face size is more what one might expect from 21 or 22 point.

7. Acknowledgments

My thanks to Stephen O. Saxe and David Greer for their help with the research for this Notebook. Stephen O. Saxe, in particular, did a great deal of detailed research without which this writeup would not have been possible. All errors and misinterpretations which remain are, of course, my own.

8. Notes

1. If you are coming to this discussion with a background in digital type only, you must understand that the use of the word "kern" in digital type is simply incorrect. "Kerning" does not mean varying the space between letters when you are setting type. In metal type, increasing the horizontal space between letters is termed "letterspacing," while the much more difficult operation of decreasing the horizontal space between letters to less than the designer's and typecaster's intent is accomplished by physically mortising the types. Increasing the vertical spacing between lines is termed "leading" - but this will just further confuse you since the use of "leading" in digital type to mean "inter-baseline-spacing" is also incorrect. It is best, when trying to understand type, to ignore completely the various errors being taught as principles in digital type.

In any case, starting here from scratch with real type, a "kern" is a projection of the face of the letter beyond the body of the type. Horizontal kerns project to the left and right of the type, vertical kerns project above and below it. "Kerning" is an operation performed by a typefounder to create these kerns.

Kerned type is more troublesome to cast and hand-finish using 19th century machines. In some 20th century typecasting machines (such as the Thompson Type-Caster used to cast the Duensing Belgian in 2012) kerning is not naturally accomodated by the machine; it can be done, but it is tricky. Kerned type is always more labor-intensive, and therefore more costly. Type with kerns also presents issues to the printer, because kerns are relatively delicate and can break off.

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