These images are from a rare type specimen housed in Columbia University’s Butler Library.
Printed in 1874 by William H. Page & Co. The Specimens of Chromatic Wood Type, Borders, Etc. contains over 100 pages of the most colourful, eye-popping type. These excellent photos are by Becca Hirsbrunner.
“Chromatic” typefaces are designed so that each character has separate layers that are intended to be typeset in alignment and printed in different colours. Many of the designs above overlap each other creating a third colour.
This specimen book was used to sell the woodtype to printers. The type is said to have cost around 25 cents per letter, per colour layer, certainly not cheap back then.
From the introduction to Specimens of Chromatic Wood Type, 1874:
To Color Printers We have the pleasure of laying before you a Specimen Book of Chromatic Wood Type, and would say it is now eighteen years since we began Type making. Progress in the Art can be seen by comparing the present volume, with Specimens of that date. There were at that time five or six other manufacturers in the country. Now we manufacture seven-eights of all the Wood Type made, and are now able to show by itself a Book of Chromatic Type and Borders that is not excelled in the world. It has taken years of time to prepare and perfect it. The designs with two or three exceptions are entirely original with us. The demand for Chromatic Type is quite limited, therefore we cannot apply this book free, only to our Agents. Most Respectfully Yours, Wm. H. Page & Co.
There are many modern versions of chromatic type, including Terrance Weinzierl’s award winning Pizza Press face.
Some before and after shots of this handsome letterpress cabinet. I haven’t been able to find a spray paint color that I’m completely head over heels for yet, so for now I’m leaving it chrome without any protective coat (until I decide!!).
I am sort of digging the chrome though.
Turns out this cabinet was the perfect size for the small collection of type that I have. 🎉
A Dramatic Outdoor Type Exhibition - Coming soon from Monotype
London’s leading independent design festival, Clerkenwell Design Week, has been my favourite design event since it started five years ago.
With their London office in the middle of Clerkenwell, Monotype has been a regular participant. This May however, Monotype is ensuring that typefaces and type design are represented at the centre of the design festival with WordPlay, a bold outdoor exhibition of typeface.
Teaming up with local designers a selection of Monotype’s typefaces will be used to spell out six vibrant words that will be variously suspended from trees, stacked or splayed on pavement, painted on brick walls, or presented on provocative signage.
“Local design talent will experiment with wildly disparate materials—wood, light, vinyl, concrete, fabric, and acrylic—to give form to the Monotype faces. This large-scale installation art is designed to bring the details, curves, contrasts, and textures of type to life and to show us how dynamic type can be.”
In their announcement, Clerkenwell Design Week revealed Monotype’s visual identity for the exhibition (shown above). I recognised some the Louis Pouchée decorative letters and Monotype kindly shared some of the source images from their archive in Salfords.
Clerkenwell Design Week, 19th-21st May, 2015
Read more about the Pouchée Woodblock alphabets here.
If you find yourself in Central London, there’s a chance you’ll spot Ged in the window of an independent shop working on their signage – as I did this summer. Passing the sun drenched display of the Wyvern Bindery, in Clerkenwell, I saw Ged gilding their window. Just a few hundred meters away, I discover he’d also created this beauty.
“I thought I’d go with a Victorian wood block style for my Advent Calendar numerals. Open fires and chestnuts over televisions and tinsel any day!”
Go see more of Ged’s impressive work on Instagram.
About: Each day, between the 1st and 25th of December, we’ll be revealing a beautiful, custom designed number and artist. See them all on Type Worship.
I’ve been looking forward to sharing this inventive letterpress design by David Marshall and Elizabeth Ellis, the duo that make up the ‘analogue only’ letterpress studio, The Counter Press, in East London.
This design has been hand set in various wood type, 36pt Placard and 14pt Monotype Caslon then hand inked in gold and shades of green (I love the texture on the Christmas Tree).
Take a look at the Counter Press’s portfolio, produced exclusively using traditional hand set wood and metal type.
About the Advent Calendar. Each day between the 1st and 25th of December we’ll be revealing a beautiful, custom designed number and artist, here on Type Worship.