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A (working) hand-list of available wood type specimen catalog facsimiles and digital copies

by David Shields. Average Reading Time: about 7 minutes.

This is a first attempt on my part to compile (and make available) a comprehensive list of wood type specimen catalogs{1} that currently exists as facsimiles or digital copies that are freely or more readily accessible than the rare originals. This compilation focuses exclusively on wood type manufacturers and their distribution partners and hopefully can move beyond the limited focus of American and English manufactures with more research. I would greatly appreciate any help in pointing to material that might broaden this list and will keep it available and working to be useful as a research tool.

Type specimen catalogs were produced and distributed as a way to promote and sell type foundry and wood type manufacturer’s products. These sales catalogs were typically produced as economically as possible — cheaply and quickly — and were created to promote a regularly expanding line of product offerings. Because of this, the sales material was typically made obsolete with the publishing of the next catalog. This disposable nature makes the catalogs that remain exceedingly rare. Where a document that was originally printed in the thousands, today is known only through a handful of copies, though very often only a single example remains in existence. The ephemerality of the catalogs accounts for the gaps in available information where we can only speculate on what is missing from the specimen record.

The catalogs that are known today act as primary source material for dating the introduction and identifying the originator of various type designs. While they provide unique information there are also limits to what the catalogs provide. Wood type manufacturers published sales catalogs showing only enough detail to entice buyers without providing full character sets to tip the hand of competitors. Catalogs were not usually printed with specific publishing dates (to provide the most flexibility of use, and the longest shelf-life), but a close reading can reveal a number of details that provide information critical to establishing reasonably accurate dates of production.

The majority of the known specimen materials are held in public and private archives each with their own degree of access. A few rare catalogs will periodically appear for public auction, but unfortunately, the market will currently bear a high price for acquisition that puts access to the documents out of reach of the most interested buyers. Though physical engagement provides critical information to researchers, in the absence of physical proximity to an archive’s holdings, facsimiles and digital copies facilitate easier access to a broader range of participants. Posting this list also aims to facilitate easier access by providing a repository for active links to digital copies.

 

Printed Facsimiles

Specimens of Chromatic Wood Type, Borders, &c. (1874). Greeneville, Connecticut: William H Page Wood Type Company. Facsimile {85% reduction}, Foreword by Steven Heller, Edited by Esther K. Smith, Contribution by Wayne White (Specimens of Chromatic Wood Type, Borders, &c.: The 1874 Masterpiece of Colorful Typography). New York: Rizzoli, 2017.

Specimens of Holly Wood Type. (1884). Two Rivers, Wisconsin: Hamilton & Katz. Facsimile, “Introduction to this Facsimile Edition” by Richard Hopkins. Terra Alta, West Virginia: Pioneer Press, 2011.

Specimens of Machine Cut Wood Type! (1888). Norwich, Connecticut: William H Page Wood Type Company. Facsimile, “Introduction” by Richard Hopkins. Terra Alta, West Virginia: Pioneer Press, 2002.

Specimens of New Process Wood Type! (1890). Norwich, Connecticut: William H Page Wood Type Company. Facsimile, (Late Victorian Wood Types, Borders, and Ornaments.). Watkins Glen, New York: American Life Books, 1983.

Specimen of Wood Type. (1895). New York: Heber Wells. Facsimile, “Introduction” by Richard Hopkins (A Complete Reproduction of an Historic Book, Held by David W. Peat). Terra Alta, West Virginia: Pioneer Press, 2015.

Specimens of Wood Type, Wood Ornaments, Indexes, Dashes, Silhouettes, Corners, Catchwords, Perpetual Calendars, Borders, Star Rule and Wood Rule (1908). (17th ed.). Two Rivers, Wisc: The Hamilton Mfg Co. Facsimile, “Reissuing This Classic Wood Type Catalog” by John Horn. Little Rock, Arkansas: Shooting Star Press, 2010.

 

Silver Buckle Press Collection

Wood Type. (1897). Toronto, Ontario: Toronto Type Foundry Company/ATF.
http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/SilverBuckle.WoodtypeToronto

Gothics and Wood Border. (1926). Two Rivers, Wisconsin: The Hamilton Manufacturing Company.
http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/SilverBuckle.GothicsWood

Hamilton’s Wood Type: New Gothic Faces in Wood Type. (c1921–1927). Two Rivers, Wisconsin: The Hamilton Manufacturing Company.
http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/SilverBuckle.HamiltonWood

Wood Type, Catalog No 38. (1938). Two Rivers, Wisconsin: Hamilton Manufacturing Company.
http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/SilverBuckle.WoodTypeHam

Add “Punch” to Your Printing with Hamilton Wood Type. (1951). Two Rivers, Wisconsin: Hamilton Manufacturing Company.
http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/SilverBuckle.Punch

Woodtype: Selective Emphasis for Fine Typography. (1960). Two Rivers, Wisconsin: Hamilton Manufacturing Company.
http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/SilverBuckle.Woodtype

 

Unicorn Graphics

Specimens of Vanderburgh, Wells & Co’s Wood Type, Borders, Rules, &c. (1872). New York: Vanderburgh, Wells & Company.
https://iiif.lib.harvard.edu/manifests/view/drs:47180996$1i

Specimens of Chromatic Wood Type, Borders, &c. (1874). Greeneville, Connecticut: William H Page & Company.
https://archive.org/details/ldpd_10147342_000/page/n1

Specimens of Chromatic Wood Type, Borders, &c. (1874). Greeneville, Connecticut: William H Page & Company.
http://www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/digital/collections/cul/texts/ldpd_10147342_000/

Specimens of Wood Type. (1878). Norwich, Connecticut: William H Page Wood Type Company.
http://www.unicorngraphics.com/wood%20type%20museum/page1878/page1878.asp

Condensed Specimen Book of Wood Type. (1890). Middletown, New York: Morgans & Wilcox Manufacturing Company.
http://www.unicorngraphics.com/wood%20type%20museum/morgans1890/morgansninety.asp

Specimens of New Process Wood Type! (1890). Norwich, Conn: Wm H Page Wood Type Company.
http://www.unicorngraphics.com/wood%20type%20museum/page-die/pagedie.asp

Specimens of Wood Type and Catalogue of Printers’ Wood Goods and Materials. (1893). New York: American Type Founders’ Company.
https://iiif.lib.harvard.edu/manifests/view/drs:47180997$1i

Hamilton’s Wood Type, Catalog No 14. (1899) Two Rivers, Wisc: The Hamilton Manufacturing Company.
http://www.unicorngraphics.com/wood%20type%20museum/hamilton14/hamiltonfourteen.asp

 

Hathitrust Digital Library

The specimen book of types cast at the Austin Foundry. (1838) London: Wood & Sharwoods. [100–124]. {Not wood type but excellent examples of decorated display faces.}
https://hdl.handle.net/2027/umn.319510020822920 

Specimens of Holly Wood Type. (1881) Two Rivers, Wisconsin: Hamilton & Katz.
https://hdl.handle.net/2027/nnc2.ark:/13960/t68395m5x

New specimen book. (1884) San Francisco: Palmer & Rey. [145–164].
https://hdl.handle.net/2027/uc2.ark:/13960/t1vd6s06n

Specimens of Type, Borders & Ornaments, Brass Rules & Electrotypes. (1898) New York: American Type Founders Company. 793–816.
https://hdl.handle.net/2027/nyp.33433006348316

Hamilton’s Wood Type, Catalog No 14. (1899) Two Rivers, Wisconsin: The Hamilton Manufacturing Company.
https://hdl.handle.net/2027/mdp.39015019775728

 

Internet Archive

Specimens of Holly Wood Type (1881). Two Rivers, Wisconsin: Hamilton & Katz.
https://archive.org/details/ldpd_12465515_000

Specimens of Chromatic Wood Type, Borders, &c. (1874). Greeneville, Connecticut: William H Page & Company.
https://archive.org/details/ldpd_10147342_000/page/n1

Specimens of Type, Borders, Ornaments, Brass Rules and Cuts, etc. (1897) New York: American Type Founders Company. 753–768.
https://archive.org/details/specimensoftypeb00amer/page/n5

Tubbs Wood Type. (c1903) South Windham, Connecticut: Tubbs & Company.
https://archive.org/details/case_wing_Z250_t884

Catalog of Type Faces and Supplies. (c1927–1938) Adrian, Michigan: Line-O-Scribe, Inc.
https://archive.org/details/LineOScribeTypeFacesAndSupplies

אותיות עץ, Wood Type. (c1940) Palestine: Zvi Bregman.
https://archive.org/details/Bregman1938WoodType/page/n11

Line-O-Scribe Sign Machines, Catalog No. M-656. (c1948–1963) Chicago: The Morgan Sign Machine Company.
https://archive.org/details/MorganLineOScribeCatalogM656

Sign up with The Showcard Machine. (1984) Chicago: Showcard Machine Company. 20–21.
https://archive.org/details/ShowcardMachineCo.Catalog 

 

The Type Library

Revised Price List & Catalogue of Patent Hard-faced Machine-cut Wood Type, Printing and Bookbinding Materials. (1897) London: Day & Collins, Ltd.
http://type.org.uk/archive/day_and_collins/wood_type/index.html#page=1

Specimens of Wood Letter, giving Number of Letters to the Foot, also Borders and Corners, Ornaments &c. (c1898) London: H.W. Caslon & Company, Ltd.
http://type.org.uk/archive/caslon/wood_type/index.html

Wood Letter Specimens. (19xx) Sheffield: H.M. Sellers & Company.
http://type.org.uk/archive/hm-sellers/type_specimens/index.html#page=1

Wood Letter Printers’ Joinery Machinery. (1915) Sheffield & London: Stephenson, Blake & Company, Ltd.
http://type.org.uk/archive/stephenson-blake/wood_letter_1915_stephenson_blake/index.html#page=1

DeLittle’s Wood Type Specimens. (1966) York: Robert D. Delittle.
http://type.org.uk/archive/delittle/wood_type/index.html#page=1

 

This list of digital copies is organized by collection. The list is also available organized by date of original publication.

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  1. There are a number of other useful compiled lists available online, including:

    Ralf Herrmann’s post “Type Specimens Online” provides a number of useful digital links. https://typography.guru/forums/topic/44-type-specimens-online/

    Dr. David M. MacMillan’s “Foundry Specimens & Typography” page at Circuitous Root provides an exhaustive list of founders and manufacturers. http://www.circuitousroot.com/artifice/letters/press/noncomptype/typography/index.html []

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