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Welcome! Forums Revivals A Abramesque

This topic contains 3 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Alan Jay Prescott 3 years, 3 months ago.

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June 13, 2013 at 12:20 AM #1136


Abramesque=Rounded OrnamentedOld Bowery [left] and Abramesque. These breezy British brats, originally called Rounded Open and Rounded Ornamented, have led interesting lives. Nicolette Gray identifies them with Caslon c1844.¹

As a teenager, Rounded Open visited the Bruce TF (c1854), where she was called Ornamented No. 1007. After a suspected Bruce facelift as Gothic Round Shaded (≤1869), she was reintroduced by ATF as Old Bowery in 1933.

McGrew writes, “Old Bowery is an ATF revival, in 1933 and again in 1949, of Round Shade No. 2, originated by Bruce, one of its predecessor companies, about 1854, as Ornamented No. 1007.“²  Only an ornamented version, different from Abramesque and not illustrated by Gray,  is shown in Bruce 1856.

At a recent Oak Knoll event, Nick Sherman shot a photo of the page in Caslon’s 1844 catalog showing Rounded, the solid prototype of these faces (not documented by Gray) and shared it at

Albert-Jan Pool (designer of DIN and keen historian of sans-serif faces) observed that the footer is dated “September 1836,” so it was reprinted (probably as a stereotyped page) from an earlier Caslon publication. Until then, the earliest specimen examined by THP is shown in Caslon 1841.

All agree that, so far, it is the earliest-known rounded sans-serif face in history—and this pleasingly plump family of three is as appealing today as ever!

Of a very similar wood-type forerunner tradenamed Gothic Round, Kelly reports:

“First shown by George Nesbitt in his 1838 specimens. … The Nesbitt design was an Outlined or Rimmed Gothic Round. The Caslon Foundry issued several Gothic Round designs, of which an ornamented one [Abramesque#], in particular, came into general usage in America around mid-century.” George Nesbittt, a New York printer, distributed wood types produced by Edwin Allen (Windham, CT).³

Nick Sherman adds that “Miguel Sousa at Adobe is in the process of making a digital revival of this face [Gothic Round] for the Hamilton Wood Type Foundry.”

Thanks to THP Partner Alan Prescott, Abramesque# (a “tuffie”!) has been digitally preserved for posterity.

¹Gray, N. (1938): XIXth Century Ornamented Types and Title Pages, pages 180/200. Faber and Faber Limited, London.
²McGrew, M. (1993): American Metal Types of the Twentieth Century (Second, Revised Edition), page 235. Oak Knoll Press, New Castle, DE.
³Kelly, R.R. (1977): American Wood Type, 1828–1900|Notes on the Evolution of Decorated and Large Types, pages 38/305. Litton Educational Pub­lishing, Inc./Van Nostrand Reinhold Company (New York 1969). Reprinted by DaCapo Press, Inc. (New York 1977).

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November 4, 2013 at 7:01 AM #4961

Alan Jay Prescott

It seems these typefaces belong in a group and are probably best sold as a package, ultimately. I have been rethinking Abramesque in light of its forerunners and envision a slight redesign in order to satisfy both the desire for revival and the need for fuller glyph sets.

I will likely develop Abramesque in such a way as to accommodate the Gothic Round and Bowery forms as back-formations at the same time. So strictly speaking they will be faithful adaptations in the sense that they will appear as though they were designed contemporaneously. So their metrics and point-size manifestations will be coincident enabling mixing and matching at will.

We shall see. Not 100% satisfied, but my Abramesque is perhaps the best for some time. I understand someone else has worked on this? Would love to compare and contrast the final fonts!

November 4, 2013 at 7:02 AM #4960

Alan Jay Prescott

Abramesque was indeed a toughie, but well worth the effort. Even the good scan I made from Solo could not reveal the true nature of the repeating escutcheons. Thus, I made an attempt to duplicate them as closely as possible.

I developed numerals from scratch and some punctuation, but am rethinking the numerals in light of the fact that they would have most likely resembled those from Old Bowery or even Round Gothic. So I consider this face still, in a sense, under development and will likely produce another version improved before I consider releasing for sale.

November 29, 2013 at 3:17 PM #5473

Alan Jay Prescott

I have revived Abramesque as Abril:


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