In 1964, Rob Roy Kelly, noted design educator, collector and historian, published a limited edition folio of the wood types he had collected over the previous eight years. 2014 marked the 50th anniversary of the publishing of this important work. The folio, hand printed by Rob Roy Kelly (1925–2004) in an edition of 45, was well received, and quickly sold to private collectors and notable archives. Ruari McLean, the respected […] Read more – ‘American Wood Types Folio (1964)’.
Kelly, Rob Roy. Wood type; specimens of nineteenth century American wood type with introductory notes. Kansas City, Mo: Rob Roy Kelly, 1964. Print. Issued in a tan buckram covered solander box with printed paper label on front cover, titled: Wood type; specimens of nineteenth century American wood type with introductory notes. Consists of introductory notes and index bound in printed paper wrappers with black plastic spiral spine titled: American Wood Types […] Read more – ‘A hand list of Kelly’s 1964 folio’.
George Case Setchell was born December 17, 1838 in Norwich, Connecticut to William Kelly Setchell and Maria E. Case. He was a skilled type cutter and a keen inventor, who perfected the die-cut method of wood border manufacture in the late 1870s, and, in collaboration with William H. Page, the die-cut method of wood type manufacture in the late 1880s. Setchell spent his childhood and most of his adult life in […] Read more – ‘George Case Setchell’.
Ebenezer Russell Webb was born October 10, 1811 in Onondaga, New York—just south of Syracuse—to Judson Webb & Jerusha Truesdell. E.R. Webb married Charlotte Castle (c1812—1899) on May 23, 1832 in Syracuse, New York. The couple had one child, a daughter, Mary E. Webb [Bunker] (c1833–1912). The family lived at 247 Bridge Street in Brooklyn for nearly twenty years starting in 1843. Webb worked as a printer in his […] Read more – ‘E. R. Webb’.
A previously unrecorded Hamilton & Katz catalog Specimens of Holly Wood Type, Borders, Reglets and Furniture was donated to the RIT Cary Graphic Arts Collection in March, 2014 by William Andrews of the Challenger Press in Brockport, New York. Before this new catalog came to light there were only two known and recorded Hamilton & Katz type specimen catalogs held in American archives. In the best of circumstances a specimen […] Read more – ‘Upon discovering a new wood type specimen catalog’.
William Thomas Morgans, was one of the dominate producers and innovators of wood type in American in the late 1870s, competing successfully against William Page, Vanderburgh, Wells & Co and Charles Tubbs. He was born July 2, 1844‹1› in Bethel, New York to Eleazer and Martha J Morgans. In his life he was a newspaper publisher, job printer, inventor and founding partner of the wood type companies Young & Morgans and later Morgans […] Read more – ‘“Billy Morgans—the boss typo of the County…”’.
A recent visit to the Kembel Collection at the California Historical Society in San Fransisco allowed for a perusing of issues of The Printer and Bookmaker. This examination led to serendipitously stumbling upon an obscure reference, which led to a fortuitous Google search, offering up a typographic curiosity. It should be noted that research is often most fruitful when performed tangentiality. The following was published in the May, 1897 issue of The Printer and […] Read more – ‘Glass type’.
The following entry was originally published in the May, 1897 issue of The Printer and Bookmaker‹1›. The letter to the editor from a Mr George Jacobs describes a unique method of producing large scale printing type. Though patent leather was invented in Brussels in the late 1700’s and commercially produced in America starting in 1819, primarily for producing durable wearable goods, this is the first, and possibly the only, reference to using […] Read more – ‘Patent Leather Type’.
On January 2, 2014 Jim De Little passed away peacefully at his home in Fulford just south of York, England after a long illness. He was 78. Mr De Little, grandson of the founder, was the last owner and operator of the last wood type manufacturer in England. The DeLittle company was founded in 1888 by Robert Duncan De Little as the R D DeLittle “Eboracum” Letter Factory. The wood […] Read more – ‘Robert James De Little’.
Heber Wells, born January 25, 1835 near Bleeker Street in New York City to Darius and Almira Waters Wells. Heber was the youngest son of Darius Wells—the first manufacturer of wood type. He was also an industrious and honest business man, a courageous soldier in the Union army and an active philanthropic member of his community. Though born in New York City, Wells spent most of his life in Paterson, New […] Read more – ‘Heber Wells’.
George Fash Nesbitt was born January 13, 1809 in New York City to James Nesbitt and Maria Carolina Fash. Nesbit apprenticed as a printer under his uncle Joseph C Spear. Upon his uncle’s death in 1828, George Nesbitt assumed control of his uncle’s thirty-three year old printing business. By 1831, the business was operating under the name of George F Nesbitt at 117 Water Street in New York City, and […] Read more – ‘George F Nesbitt’.
Spending the week at libraries tracking down American wood type manufacturer’s specimen books. On the docket are Houghton Library at Harvard University in Boston, the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, and the Connecticut Historical Society Library in Hartford. All archives seem promising with previously unrecorded specimen materials. To-date there has been no comprehensive listing of all wood type designs manufactured — or a bibliography compiled of manufacturer’s catalogs — over the […] Read more – ‘A week at the library’.
The following entry was originally published in the 1889 edition of Johnson’s (Revised) Univeral Cyclopædia: a scientific and popular treasury of useful knowledge‹1›. The last sentence of the entry is most curious in that it describes an apparently efficient—if utterly unique—process of wood type manufacture. The “sand-blast method” does not appear to be described in any other trade- or reference-publication. It is not attributed to any specific manufacturer, nor can it be found […] Read more – ‘A most curious process’.
American Wood Type Mfg Co published it’s Catalog No 36 in 1936. Their primary business address was listed as 270 Lafayette Street, New York and the secondary address listed as 608 Dearborn Street, Chicago. The specimen book interior is printed in black ink on off-white uncoated stock, with a 2-color cover that is slightly heavier than the interior stock. The catalog measures 10¼ × 13¾″ and is thirty-six saddle-stitched pages […] Read more – ‘Catalog No 36’.
On page 62 of American Wood Type 1828–1900‹1› Rob Roy Kelly makes a passing reference to the existence of several wood type manufacturers using the name American Wood Type. Kelly’s text only detailed the one manufacturer working in the 19th century. The nineteenth century American Wood Type Co described by Kelly was founded by Charles Henry Tubbs. Tubbs left the employ of William H. Page to start his company in South Windham, […] Read more – ‘American Wood Type Mfg Co’.
Rob Roy Kelly’s seminal American Wood Type 1828–1900‹1› focuses solely on the nineteenth century. Other than a sidelong reference to Allied Wood Type Mfg Co in incorrectly attributed images on pages 160 and 161 and a passing reference to the American Wood Type Mfg Co on pages 62 and 161, Kelly leaves the 20th century unexamined. The research work I have undertaken aims to fill in these blanks and the process […] Read more – ‘ACME Wood Type & Mfg Co’.
On page 160 and 161 of American Wood Type: 1828–1900 Rob Roy Kelly shows types attributed to Allied Wood Type Manufacturing Company. The samples show cropped specimens of Mode, Stymie, Corvinus Skyline, and Fashion Gothic though all are unfortunately mislabeled and Kelly includes no further attribution or date information, nor does he discuss Allied on any of the corresponding pages. In the 2007 New Vintage Type: Classic Fonts for the Digital […] Read more – ‘Allied Wood Type Mfg Co’.
James Edward Hamilton was born May 19, 1852 in Two Rivers, Wisconsin to Henry Carter and Diantha Smith Hamilton. He established the Hamilton Holly Wood Type Co in 1880, the same year he married Etta Shove, who helped develop the wood type business after their wedding on August 5. Hamilton developed a method for manufacturing wood type that came to been known as the veneer method. Cutting the letter design from a thin […] Read more – ‘J E Hamilton’.
In American Wood Type 1828–1900, Rob Roy Kelly writes the history of the major American wood type manufacturers of the nineteenth century. He describes James Hamilton as an “aggressive businessman” buying out his competition starting with the William H. Page Wood Type Co in 1891. While true—the sale was finalized on January 4, 1891—Kelly simplifies the subtleties of the situation. Hamilton started his business in 1880, and by 1887 was undercutting the competition […] Read more – ‘“The Wood Type business should go West…” An 1887 letter from William H. Page to W.B. Baker’.
The following entry was originally published in John Luther Ringwalt’s 1871 American Encyclopedia of Printing‹1›. Ringwalt describes the early production process employed by Darius Wells, the first wood type manufacturer, and details an important distinction between the wood type templates of William Leavenworth and those of Edwin Allen. Most interestingly Ringwalt explicitly names the first recorded competitor to Darius Well in 1830. Wood Type — Type made of wood; generally of cherry, cut end-wise; nearly […] Read more – ‘Type made of wood.’.
Identifying the manufacturers and clarifying, as precisely as possible, the origin of the designs of the types in the Rob Roy Kelly American Wood Type Collection has been an important component of my ongoing research into nineteenth century typographic form. One of my active projects has been the assignment of unattributed types to particular manufacturers and the clarification of their histories through physical and visual research. Fixing a type’s origins is […] Read more – ‘Planing patterns and sleuthing origins’.
The intention of starting this blog is to develop a platform to record threads of ongoing inquiries, partially formulated ideas, bits of new discoveries and observations of the world through the filter of my research into nineteenth century and twentieth century wood type. I’ll be including notes on histories of particular type designs, texts regarding wood type manufacturers from nineteenth century sources, images from my research as well as details concerning previously […] Read more – ‘Starting a research blog’.