Working Specimens

 

THP maintains an extensive, searchable database of specimens gladly furnished to revival developers on request.

If you have seen a face elsewhere that interests you:

  • Click the first letter of the tradename, Tradename Numbered or Tradename Unknown in the Revivals menu.
  • If the tradename is listed, read the linked topic in case someone else has “claimed” the same project.
  • If it is not listed, start a new topic in an A–Z, Numbered or Unknown forum.
  • If the tradename is unknown, attach a representative specimen.
  • It may turn out that it is not listed because a pre-THP revival exists.
  • Don’t worry, there are hundreds of “new oldies” longing for you to rescue them from extinction!

Primary Sources

Specimens supporting USPTO design patent applications usually include the complete caps or dual-case alphabet(s) and numerals (if any); occasionally, ornaments, catch-words, etc.

  • After 1874, commercial tradenames were prohibited from the text of design patent applications.
  • Nearly all patent specimens (1,000+) in THP’s USPTO database are matched with commercial  tradenames, so they are easily retrieved.
  • Chapel member jch02140 has kindly furnished a link to a spreadsheet maintained by Steven O. Saxe, coauthor of William E.Loy |Nineteenth-Century American Designers and Engravers of Type.¹
  • Producer catalogs and advertisements may furnish alternate letterforms and other “extras.”
  • Likewise, monographs or articles by 20th-century type historians may aid revival developers.

Petzendorfer’s Schriftenatlas c1903 (reprinted by Dover, 1984). About 200 scan-able full specimens. A historical caution… The source of the specimen is not necessarily the source of the design! Petzendorfer’s indispensable series of sales portfolios courted the German type market and promoted German TFs. Many of the faces illustrated are re-named (authorized?) copies of faces patented/registered or otherwise documented as originating elsewhere.

Type & Design Devices, edited by Ron Yablon (The Ron Yablon Graphic Archives, 1970). This recent discovery (thanks to THP Partner Brian Bonislawsky)  is packed with 20 pages of super-rare specimens. They are not captioned, and some are not yet identified by commercial tradenames. A “quick ‘n’ dirty” scan produced a PDF for previewing them.

  • Revival status and known tradenames are stated in the bookmarks for each page.
  • If you see a face that interests you, ask for a high-resolution specimen.
  • If you recognize any of the anonymous ones, please share this info with the chapel!

Dan X. Solo [1928-2012], a key THP supporter, was a photo-lettering giant who hunted and preserved perhaps 6,000 metal or wood letterpress types and specimens. He edited a series of Dover books illustrating full specimens of some 3,000.

  • Many of them may be previewed at the Google Books site. Pages displayed vary from time to time, so it’s wise to bookmark, save screenshots, and revisit often.
  • High-resolution scans of nearly all Solo specimens are available from THP on request. When initiating your topic, please include the book title (sometimes the same font is shown in different books with different tradenames).

Robert Donona, a Star Partner, brings to THP a vast collection of photo-lettering film fonts. In most cases, scan-able full specimens are illustrated in related catalogs. In a pinch, he sometimes works from the original negatives—as he did for Patrick Griffin’s revival of Fantan as Canada Type’s Fantini in 2006:

In order to make Fantini a reality, Canada Type received [an] original 2″ film specimen from Robert Donona, a Clevelander whose enthusiasm about American film type has never faltered, even decades after the technology itself became obsolete. Keep an eye out for that name. Robert, who was computer-reluctant for the longest time, has now come a long way toward mastering digital type design.”

In the years since Fantini#, Robert has indeed mastered the art of digital revivals as challenging as Artistic Initials, Italian Text or Lady Text#. On top of his technical expertise, he knows something about the history of the projects he chooses too!

Specifications

Preliminary specimens may be viewed at flickr.com. These images are automatically down-sampled and “crunched” into jpeg format when uploaded. They are NOT suitable for satisfactory vectorization.

  • Jpeg images are “lossy.” Every time they are saved, they lose quality.
  • Always convert a jpeg specimen to tiff format before editing it.
  • If filesize is a concern, compress tiff files with the universally supported, loss-less LZW method.
  • LZW-compressed tiff files open automatically with popular Adobe and Corel raster-image editors with zero change in hard-disc filesize.
  • Patent specimens scanned by USPTO as monochrome tiffs @300 dpi were recently converted to PDFs.
  • THP maintains a nearly complete database of the original monochrome tiffs. Image size depends on the size of the Real World metal or wood font that produced it.
  • When “hard-copy” specimens are available, they are routinely scanned as 100% grayscale tiff images @600–1200 dpi; When they are very small, 200% @1200–2400 dpi.
  • Otherwise, the relevant pages are extracted from PDFs (digitized by Google, Microsoft, etc.) with the same specifications. Quality varies with the native scan resolution.

Tiff format downside:

  • Not view-able online without a browser plugin; for example, Alternatiff (Windows only).

In case specimens provided are inadequate for your needs, please request other specifications.

Member-to-Member Specimens

When providing specimens for other Chapel members, please observe these guidelines:

  • Furnish tiff images, the file format native to scanners
  • Most developers prefer grayscale images
  • Sometimes monochrome [true binary “black-and-white”] works better
  • A workable resolution for approximately 48-point glyphs is usually 600 dpi
  • For smaller point sizes, try 1200-2400 dpi
  • Very ornate images may require super-high resolution.

Filesize is important for all concerned.

  • Consider multiple scans; for example, caps and lower-case
  • Compress tiff images with the universally recognized LZW method
  • Further compress single or multiple tiff files in a ZIP archive

Delivery Logistics

  • High-quality working specimens are commercially valuable!
  • It is best to transmit them privately.
  • If you maintain an account at dropbox.com or a similar service, upload a zipfile there and provide a link in a confidential reply (click the “Set as private reply” checkbox).
  • If not, THP will gladly create a free, secure dropbox folder for you and handle the transfer.

¹Johnston, A.M.; Saxe, S.O. [Editors] (2009): William E.Loy |Nineteenth-Century American Designers and Engravers of Type. Oak Knoll Books, New Castle, DE.