Welcome! Forums Revivals E Elmo

This topic contains 7 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  jch02140 2 years, 5 months ago.

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November 9, 2013 at 9:45 AM #5077


Elmo Solid [left] and Elmo Outline were designed and patented by Herman Ihlenburg in 1872; rights were assigned to David W. Bruce, son of George Bruce. The Bruce TF showed it as Ornamented No. 1530.

20th-Century photo-lettering revivals of the original (solid) and outline versions were cataloged as Elmo by Dan X. Solo, who published specimens suitable for digitization.¹

¹Solo, D.X. (1995): 100 Ornamental Alphabets, pages 40-41. Dover Publications, Inc. (Min­ne­ola, NY).

Preliminary Specimens


January 7, 2014 at 1:01 PM #6966

Alan Jay Prescott

Gorgeous face, a real challenge. And the small caps are drawn differently. I love Ihlenberg, so we’ll see!

January 9, 2014 at 8:14 AM #6992


After refusing an offer of employment as a type designer/punch-cutter from the Conner TF of New York,¹ Herman Ilenberg/Ihlenberg [1843-1906] accepted the next one—from MacKellar, Smiths & Jordan of Philadelphia, where he arrived in 1869.¹·²

Besides his best-known work for MSJ, he assigned the rights to patented designs for some 16 alphanumeric typefaces to David Wolfe Bruce, son of George Bruce [Bruce TF, 1813-1900] in 1872-1884.

For some reason, he did not confide these “secret” Bruce designs to William E. Loy, who published his biography in The Inland Printer dated May 1898.² Why not?

  • During the period of Loy’s research (August 1896-April 1898), D.W. Bruce had died in 1895.
  • Thomas MacKellar [1812-1900] had retired in feeble health; his son William [head of ATF Phladelphia] died suddenly in June 1897.
  • Perhaps he chose not to “upset” the surviving Bruce and MacKellar families with such revelations?

Ilenburg/Ilhenburg’s work for the Bruce TF remained unknown to type historians for more than 100 years—until uspto.gov published its records of design patents.

The Elmo faces, designed/patented/assigned to D.W. Bruce by Herman Ihlenberg in 1872, are extra-interesting because of this very quirk in type history.

¹Pankow, D. (1993): Recast in an American Image|The Work of Hermann (sic) Ihlenburg, Type Designer, page 11. In The Ampersand 13:10-18.
²Loy, W.E. (1898–1900): Designers and Engravers of Type. In The Inland Printer 21:182, 1898.

August 12, 2015 at 10:52 AM #23196

Alan Jay Prescott

Elmo is well on its way to digitization. Interesting issues with Solo’s specimen, but it is a plausible revival. However, any other specimens would be appreciated that are not from Solo’s collection that go further back in time before he altered the letterforms. There is sure evidence that he photo-derived the Q directly from the O, so he did not have the original Q in his collection and may have inferred its shape. The bang is suspect because he used the comma instead of period for the base. The period and comma were used for question and bang, as they are exact duplicates that would not have been used in Ihlenburg’s design. The gingerbread on the bottom of the X is suspect as it seems to have been photographically widened for reasons I don’t understand. I am going to adjust that to match the aspect ratio of the other glyphs. Again, any non-Solo earlier specimens appreciated.

August 12, 2015 at 11:58 PM #23199


Hi Alan,

Please check your dropbox folder for the patent exhibit and two showings from Bruce catalogs. You were right about the Q—the original is much plainer.


Guess what? Besides the caps and initials, there’s a lower case too!

August 13, 2015 at 7:37 PM #23239

Alan Jay Prescott

Wow…I thought there must be lowercase and numerals somewhere. And yikes, no surprise that Solo’s version is completely wrong. As I’ve mentioned before, I have become skeptical of Solo’s materials over the last three years, and his version of Elmo is nearly a complete fantasy. I will have to look over what you sent to me and see how I can salvage this revival. I will have to think about this…I was nearly done with fixing Solo’s version and basically have to start all over. Dang.

August 14, 2015 at 11:15 AM #23332

Alan Jay Prescott

Okay, so the final story on Elmo is that I have decided to abandon the project pending authentic specimens rendered at a high enough resolution to work from. It saddens me that I have spent about 40 hours working on a typeface that does not exist. I don’t mean to disrespect the man who brought to life typefaces that had not seen the light of day in years, but Dan Solo’s Elmo is an 85% fabrication.

On to Tangier, thanks to Robert Donona.

August 16, 2015 at 9:03 PM #23385


Hi Alan. That is too bad.
However, I think I might have a specimen of this but unsure if it is the original or the Solo version.
I will need to check and confirm.

Are you still interested in reviving this typeface if I confirmed to have the original specimen of elmo?

Also, I sent you a reply to your email but guess you may be too busy personally. :)


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