Bulletin Script

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September 11, 2013 at 10:50 PM #4135


Bulletin ScriptThe ever-amazing Hænel catalog of 1847 burst the bubbles below when a specimen of Bulletin Script was spotted on its pages—at least two decades earlier than believed by English-speaking historians…. Bauer reports that Edouard Hænel imported his types from France and the UK.* Since Nicolette Gray does not discuss this face, it is most likely of French origin.

*Bauer, Friedrich (Offenbach 1929); Reichardt, Hans (Frankfurt 2011): Chronik der Schriftgießereien in Deutschland und den deutschsprachigen Nachbarländern. Courtesy of the Klingspor Museum.

For The Record, the previously published history is summarized here:

Kelly illustrates wood type versions of this face popular in the US during the 1870s: Bulletin Script#, Page 1872; Bulletin, Cooley 1877. He writes that “Bulletin scripts” … were “designed and engraved by David Bruce, Jr.”¹ Unfortunately, William E. Loy does not attribute this face in his Inland Printer series, which includes a biography of Mr. Bruce [1802-1892].²

Indeed, Bruce designed and cut at least three scripts: Italian Script [USPTO D985, 1858], the oft-digitized Madisonian# [c1859 per Kelly] and Secretary [USPTO D1850, 1863]. He patented three non-script designs in 1867 [USPTO D2618, D2831] and 1868 [USPTO D3236].

No specimen examined claims originality nor ownership of this free-form backhand. Mr. Bruce’s uncle, George Bruce, was awarded the first design patent in US history (1842); specimens of faces originating from Bruce’s New York Type Foundry nearly always display patent or patent-pending notices.

Assuming that Kelly’s history of Bulletin Script# is correct, it is perplexing that Bruce’s showings are consistently entitled Paint Brush# from ≤1869 (earliest available) until the final catalog of 1901, the year after successors of the Bruce family finally merged with ATF.

The same three sizes of the same face were also shown by Bruce competitors in or before 1867: Bulletin#, Farmer (New York); and Bulletin Script#, Johnson (Philadelphia, predecessor of MacKellar Smiths & Jordan).³

The Johnson catalog prominently features it in a full-page layout. By comparison, Farmer’s upper half-page is routine and Bruce’s bottom third is dwarfed by six sizes of Madisonian# above it. MSJ still showed the face in 1885 or later; Farmer apparently discontinued it by 1887.

Another scenario… Perhaps MSJ staff members Edwin Ruthven (14 patented designs assigned to MSJ and Bruce including Loy‘s attributions)² or Alexander Kay (not a professed designer),² Scottish immigrants recruited by Lawrence Johnson in 1846 and 1854 respectively, designed and/or cut Bulletin Script# as shown in MSJ ≤1867.

The prolific THP Partner Robert Donona is busily digitizing it for posterity. At last report, he lacks only these glyphs to finish the job:

Capital Q, X and Z


¹Kelly, R.R. (1977): American Wood Type, 1828–1900|Notes on the Evolution of Decorated and Large Types, pages 93, 128, 145. Litton Educational Pub­lishing, Inc./Van Nostrand Reinhold Company (New York 1969). Reprinted by DaCapo Press, Inc. (New York 1977).
²Loy, W.E. (1898–1900): Designers and Engravers of Type. In The Inland Printer: Bruce, March 1899; Ruthven, April 1899; Kay, September 1898.
³The date 1867 is deduced from the stereotyped(?) specimen published by MSJ in July 1869, which is imprinted L. Johnson & Company while other pages are marked MacKellar, Smiths & Jordan. According to Annenberg [164], “Lawrence Johnson died on April 26, 1860, but the firm continued to operate and distribute type catalogs with his name until 1867.”

November 11, 2013 at 7:27 AM #5144


I found z, q, ligatures and diphthongs in Yablon’s “Type & Design Devices” that Brian Bonislawsky told me about!

Dave Greer has this high-rez photo from the T.J. Lyons Collection
WT Specimen No.1, Page 83

He suspects that you already asked him about this specimen, and you probably did! I downloaded it anyway and cleaned it up a bit. Maybe you can do something with it?

Look for these goodies in your dropbox folder.

December 12, 2014 at 12:27 AM #20097


Hot on your heels?

Backslanted ligatures & beyond: Paul Hunt on digitizing Bulletin Script No. 2

MyFonts Showing

December 12, 2014 at 8:44 PM #20126


Here is the status of Bulletin Brush, attached is a jpeg sample.
Yours truly,


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