A Database of

American Typeface Design Patents


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In the Nineteenth Century, many American typefounders sought to protect their type designs with US "design" patents. These patents are useful sources for researching American type designs, but they present a difficulty because they do not include the commercial name of the typeface as it was issued. The database published here links the basic patent information (number, date, etc.) with the typeface names. It was compiled by the late Jane W. Roberts and Stephen O. Saxe, and put into its publishable form here by Saxe.

Digital images for these design patents are available via the US Patent and Trademark Office at http://www.uspto.gov. However, their site can be difficult to use. It is easier to acquire digital copies in PDF format using the free "pat2pdf.org" service at http://www.pat2pdf.org Be sure to prepend a 'd' to the number you enter there. You may also have to add enough '0' characters before the number so as always to have at least six digits. Thus, to get Design Patent no. 760, enter "d000760". The versions served by pat2pdf.org are identical in resolution to those at the USPTO.

This database, as presented below, is in the form of a spreadsheet (and PDF file derived from the spreadsheet). This format is durable and useful in many contexts, both online and offline. If you prefer a more immediately visual (but necessarily online) approach, Lars Schwarz has converted this database into a web page presenting previews of the patents (and links to the full source). See: http://fontdata.com/american-typeface-design-patents/

Thanks are due to the following people for their help in correcting and expanding this database:

If you know of additions which might be made to this database, please contact Stephen O. Saxe at: sos22@optonline.net

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Introduction to the Database

An introduction by Stephen O. Saxe explaining the history of this database.

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A Database of American Typeface Design Patents, 1842-1899. Compiled by Jane W. Roberts and Stephen O. Saxe. (Mineral Point, WI: CircuitousRoot, 2015)

The icon at left links to a PDF version of this database, which should be easy to view and print out. Here is the original LibreOffice/OpenOffice format (.ods) spreadsheet containing the database: typeface-patent-database.ods

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