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August 10, 2013 at 12:29 AM #3428


Believe it or not, National (National Gothic, Solotype Catalog 75)—surely the “grand-daddy of all red, white and blue” typefaces—has never been archived for posterity. A similar, oft-digitized one known as National Spirit# [Solotype Catalog 75] has fewer stars.

In his correspondence with William E. Loy, German immigrant Julius Herriet Sr. (then in his 80s, with a life-long career in type design/cutting) recalled producing this face during the few years he worked in Philadelphia.¹ As was customary at the time, his boss, the “hyper-active” Lawrence Johnson, patented it in 1856 [USPTO D760].

Johnson’s patent affidavit explains that the design was adapted to chromatic separations for printing with blue and red inks with white paper as the third “color.” What a great idea 150+ years later!

Incidentally… It is said that Mr. Johnson [1801-1860] “worked himself to death.” In the process, he promoted three of his employees to partners and groomed them to succeed him: Thomas MacKellar, John F. Smith and Richard Smith (sons of his first partner, Johnson & Smith). Together with Peter A. Jordan (the CFO of his time), these men built on Johnson’s foundation to become the “largest and most celebrated type foundry in the world.”³

Specimens Available

  •  Hard-copy tiff scan, grayscale @600 dpi: caps, numerals, ampersand, question and exclamation marks, $ and ¢, punctuation.
  • No lower-case alphabet was intended for this font.
  • Patent and available commercial specimens illustrate only the caps. It is likely that Dan X. Solo, the specimen source, designed matching “figures and points” for the convenience of his photo-lettering clients.

¹Loy, W.E. (1898–1900): Designers and Engravers Of Type. In The Inland Printer, January 1899.
²Annenberg, M.; Saxe, S.O. [Editor]; Lieberman, E.K. [Index] (1994):  Type Foundries of America and Their Catalogs, pages 162-164. Oak Knoll Press, New Castle, DE.
³Death of Thomas MacKellar. In The Inland Printer 24:736-737, January 1900.


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