May 26, 2010
Unicorn Graphics recently uploaded their Web Museum of Wood Types and Ornaments with a large collection of scans and photographs of wood type and wood type catalogues, most of which are over 100 years old. It’s amazing to see just how precise and deliberate type designers and setters were well before the global age of technology. You can really pin-point where many later fonts got their start from. This is the sort of stuff that should make anyone appreciate type on an even higher level if you don’t value it with prestige already, which you should.
“As the demand for broadsides increased during first years of the nineteenth century, the need for the process of producing large letters cheaply arose. Wood was a logical material choice because of its ready availability, lightness, and proven printing qualities. In 1827, Darius Wells of New York City first found the means to mass produce wood letters. In March of 1828, first wood type catalogue was published by Wells. Throughout the wood type manufacturing history, many manufactories were in business. Among those, Wm. H. Page & Co., Vanderburgh, Wells & Co. and Hamilton Mfg. Co. was the most noted ones.”
This museum serves as a great reference for any designer, especially type designers, who are looking for typography inspiration for their next design. I would love to have an actual copy of the Hamilton #14 catalogue which is where the images above came from, it’s beyond amazing.