Digital Type Specimens

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This topic contains 12 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Anna 2 years, 5 months ago.

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August 5, 2015 at 1:42 AM #23098


DUH—why didn’t I think of sharing this resource before? The topic on Tangier reminded me…

From a vast collection of matrices, Schuyler (Sky) Shipley of Skyline Type Foundry, LLC casts metal type for today’s letterpress operators.

His excellent PDF catalogs illustrate full alpha-numeric specimens of primarily US faces including pre-ATF ones.

June 5, 2015 at 5:04 AM #22295


Robert’s exciting discovery prompted me to search the Haithi Trust site with French keywords  “caractères imprimerie,” which turned up 75 results. So far, these are the most interesting for my own research:

Hoping to exclude irrelevant materials, I later tried “caractères de l’imprimerie.” It missed the precious Gillé specimen!

June 5, 2015 at 1:10 AM #22269


Thanks to Chapel members, this topic has become one of the best—perhaps the best!—online compilation of digitized 19th-century specimen books available. The latest discovery was sleuthed by THP Partner Robert Donona:

Emil Houpied (Paris), October 1887: Les Nouveautés Typographiques des Fonderies Nouvelles

September 30, 2014 at 2:33 AM #16287


Thanks, Robert!

Provas da fundação de typos da Imprensa Nacional de Lisboa, 1888.

I looked hard for specimens of glyphs missing from your revival projects. No luck….

September 30, 2014 at 12:35 AM #16286


To Miss Anna:

Here is an interesting type specimen book to add, I came across this one about 3 weeks ago.

1880’s Provas da Fundicao de Typos da Imprensa Nacional de Lisboa

You can find this at Hathitrust.

Yours truly,

September 29, 2014 at 8:38 PM #16285


This is a fascinating list of type specimen books, especially the ones I did not know existed:
1846 Schrift und Polytypen-Proben
1877 The American Sign Writer
1878 The Art of Lettering and Sign Painters Manual
1884 Ames Alphabets

Some of the others on the list I have seen earlier.

Yours truly,

September 29, 2014 at 1:28 PM #16282


WOW—thank you, Roger!

My favorites:

1846: Schrift und Polytypen-Proben by BG Teubner
A year earlier than the Hænel catalog—I can’t wait to examine it! How did you manage to find this super-rare gem?

1878: Art of Lettering and Sign Painters Manual A.P. Boyce
Published in Boston, this one dates the original Copley# face chosen for the THP logo as Boston Full Roman# (pages4-5). Copley# was cut by J.F. Cumming while employed by Boston TF in 1881–1884. As described in the appendix, “This letter is claimed by the Boston sign-painters to be the prettiest one made.”

Even better, 1877: The American Sign Writer (San Francisco) shows the same specimen a year earlier.

Exciting stuff!!!

Your listing of a single issue of The Inland Printer is most timely. As it happens, I’m working now on a topic about this periodical so essential to type research. I downloaded dozens of volumes a few years ago when they were relatively easy to find at Google Books. Since then, title changes resulting from 20th-century owners and acquisitions have caused chaos.

September 28, 2014 at 1:46 PM #16248

Roger Seganti

Hi, I would like to share a list of ebooks which I have been putting together in a PDF with working links.
Mainly, Typography Specimen Catalogues.
also some ebooks on Letterpress, Woodtypes, Typography Ornaments,
Alphabets, Lettering, Typography Design, Sign Painting, Penmanship, Art Nouveau Design etc.


Complete List of eBooks in the pdf.
1798: A Specimen of Printing Types by William Caslon.
1812: Specimen Types Foundry of Binney & Ronaldson, Philadelphia.
1828: George Bruces & Co. A Specimen of Printing Types, and Ornaments.
1843: Alphabet Album Collection de soixante feuilles d’alphabets.
1846: Schrift und Polytypen-Proben by BG Teubner.
1850: Specimens of Printing Types and Ornaments. Montreal Type Foundry.
1854: Becker’s Ornamental Penmanship.
1860: Condensed Specimen Book from the Boston Type Foundry.John K Rogers & Co. p.134
1866: The Art of Illuminating London.
1867: Examples of Chinese Ornaments London.
1869: Specimens of Printing Types Made at Bruce’s New York Type-Foundry.
1870: Harpel’s Typograph. Specimen Book. Cincinnati.
1870: The Cincinnati Type Foundry Co’s Specimen and Price-list.
1872: Specimen Woodtypes Wm.H.Page.
1874: Specimen Types Fann Street Foundry London.
1874: Specimens of Chromatic Wood Type. Wm.H.Page & Co.
1876: Standard Scroll Book New York.
1877: The American Sign Writer.
1878: Art of Lettering and Sign Painters Manual A.P.Boyce.
1883: The Penman’s Hand-Book. G.A.Gaskell, New York.
1884: New Book of Specimens. Palmer & Ray. San Francisco
1884: Ames Alphabets. Daniel T. Ames New York.
1887: Third Revised Book of Specimens. Palmer & Ray. San Francisco.
1889: Convenient Book of Specimens. Franklin Type Foundry, Cincinnati.
1889: The Inland Printer. Vol VII No3.
1892: Compact Book of Specimens. Mackellar Smiths Philadelphia.
1892: Popular Designs for Artistic Printers. Boston Type Foundry.
1892: The Color Printer J.F.Earhart.
1895: Catalogue Specimens of Type. Cleveland Foundry.
1895: Early Venetian Printing Illustrated.
1895: The Art of Ornamenter and Modern Sign Writer
1896: Étude des ornements.
1896: Pacific Coast Blue Book. San Francisco.
1897: Specimens of Printing Types. American Type Founders.
1897: Specimens of Type, Borders, Ornaments. American Type Founders.
1898: Album of Ornamental Cranitic Tiles.
1898: Alphabets Old and New for the use of craftsmen. London.
1899: Sign Show Card Writing. C.F.Butterworth.
1900: Desk Book of Type Specimens, Borders, Ornaments. American Type Founders.
1901: Our Handy Book of Types, Borders….. Bruce Type Foundry. New York.
1901: Combinaisons Ornementales. Alphonse Mucha.
1901: Palm Letter Co Ornaments & Trade Designs. Cincinnati.
1903: The Signist. A compilation of the most modern and artistic designs. Henderson.
1906: Abridged Specimen Book. Keystone Foundry. Philadelphia.
1906: American Line Type Book Borders & Ornaments.
American Type Founders.
1906: Hendersons Sign Painting.
1907: Book of Type Specimens. Barnhart Bros & Spindler. Chicago.
1907: Specimen Book and Catalogue Inland Type Foundry. Saint Loius.
1907: Specimens and Price List of Brass Type Borders, Ornaments and Brass Rule. American Type Founders & Co.
1909: A Book of Types Borders, Ornaments, … H.C. Hansen Type Foundry.
1910: Poster Advertising. G.H.E.Hawkins. Chicago.
1912: American Specimen Book of Type Styles. American Type Founders
1914: The Book of Ornamental Alphabets.
1915: Booklet of Designs. Will Bradley.
1915: Specimen Catalogue Bauerschen Giesserei. Leipzig.
1916: The Sign Painter.
1917: Strongs Book of Design.
1917: American Type Founders Specimen Book of Types. Supplement.
1918: The Alphabet 15 Interpretative Designs Drawn and Arranged with explanation text and Illustrations.
Frederic. W. Goudy. New York.
1920: A Handbook of Ornament by Franz Sales Meye.
1920: How to Paint Signs and Sho’Cards E.C.Matthews.
1921: Printing Type Specimens. Miller Richard London.
1923. American Type Founders Specimen Book & Catalogue.
1923: Historic Design in Printing. The Graphics Art Co. Boston.
1923: L’ornamentazione. Milano.
1929: Baltimore Type Catalogue.
1940: California Type Foundry. Price List Specimens.
1947: Acme Type Specimen No6.
1957: ATF Typographic Accessories and Specimens.
1962: Type Specimens by Neon Type Division. Typefounders of Chicago. Part1.
1962: Type Specimens by Neon Type Division. Typefounders of Chicago. Part2.
1976: Specimen Book. Cade Type Foundry Specimens.

Roger Seganti

September 17, 2014 at 11:31 AM #15975


During research for his revival of Commonwealth, THP Partner Roger Seganti (Urbanwear, Trieste) discovered a downloadable copy of H.C. Hansen’s rare 1909 catalog, which has been digitized by the University of Utrech (The Netherlands). He was good enough to share the link:

Annenberg wrote that this very(!) hard-to-find specimen book is “rated one of the best that has ever been produced, comparable to the American Typefounders Company and Barnhart Brothers & Spindler.”

Thanks, Roger!

August 30, 2014 at 9:25 AM #15643


ATF 1897 Catalogs

ATF published multiple editions of the 1897 catalog in different cities for established regional customers. Annenberg lists no less than seven, and Saxe adds another.¹

Three of them are available as PDFs, and they differ. Faces shown in one catalog may not be shown in the others, and vice-versa!

  • New York. The first ATF headquarters was “hosted” by the former Conner/United States TF in a new, larger location at Rose and Duane Streets.
  • Buffalo. Annenberg notes that this edition was printed in Philadelphia.
  • Chicago. Place of publication deduced from the fact that the Chicago branch is listed first; the address is the same as for the former Marder, Luse & Co.


¹Annenberg, M.; Saxe, S.O. [Editors]; Lieberman, E.K. [Index](1994): Type Foundries of America and Their Catalogs, pages 43 and 250. Oak Knoll Press, New Castle, DE.

December 17, 2013 at 1:44 AM #6490


Many thanks for participating in this project, KK! ‘Fraid I was too self-centered in the bookmark comments and skipped some fonts that I have already collected. I am now updating them to include your input.

koeiekat: Face 1 on page 5 has been digitized – sort of – and named Anticca in 2003 by Peter Bruhn.

Broadgauge was patented by Edwin C. Ruthven of MSJ in February 1869 and first shown as Antique Pointed. An ornamented derivative was patented by Herman Ilenburg/Ihlenburg in April of the same year. Along with a shaded variation, they were super-popular and still shown by ATF until 1899-1900.

koeiekat: Face 2 on page 12 has been digitized – without the small ornaments inside the letters – and named Black Pearl by Michael Hagemann.

The Farmer TF issued at least six or seven faces (including condensed variations) with the same letterforms tradenamed Rimmed Black (designer unknown). They were shown in the 1867 specimen book, and three of them were patented by Andrew Little in 1867-1869. The one on Page 12 has more surface ornamentation than the one on Page 17 (Font Mesa Black Pearl).

koeiekat: Face 3 on page 16: Nick Curtis made a font based on this in 2004. He named it Boston Blackie.

Per Nicolette Gray [168], this one originated as Caslon Black No. 1 in 1821.

December 15, 2013 at 7:30 AM #6463


Re the Type & Design Devices pdf:
Face 1 on page 5 has been digitized – sort of – and named Anticca in 2003 by Peter Bruhn.
Face 2 on page 12 has been digitized – without the small ornaments inside the letters – and named Black Pearl by Michael Hagemann.
Face 3 on page 16: Nick Curtis made a font based on this in 2004. He named it Boston Blackie.

September 16, 2013 at 11:51 PM #4355


Jacques André has compiled an extensive “card catalog” of downloadable specimen books and type-related monographs. An extremely valuable resource sorted chronologically or alphabetically:

Bibliothèque virtuelle de typographie (Digital Library on Typography)

GoudyLeaf-RightNote that he kindly went to the trouble of coding each listing: Specimens are flagged as [S].

Many of the entries in the THP Bibliography are PDF eBooks, and links to most of them are included in the above database. Otherwise, feel free to contact THP for information.

These rare digital specimen books are no longer commercially available from Kirtas Books, a manufacturer of high-tech book-scanning equipment:

If you have collected other Kirtas specimen books, please share them with the THP Chapel!

The 1898 edition of Petzendorfer’s Schritftenatlas series has been published in an unusual digital format. THP has converted it to a PDF for your viewing enjoyment.

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. 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!


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