Skeleton Gothic

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January 26, 2014 at 11:03 PM #7414


I have revived three versions of Skeleton Gothic created from specimens found in the Conner specimen book of 1891 (patent notice dated 1869). In Germany, this face was known as Bauer Grotesque, as shown in Archiv fur Buchdruckerkunst:

Skeleton Gothic

Skeleton Gothic No. 2

Skeleton Gothic No. 3

Yours Truly,

January 27, 2014 at 5:58 AM #7430


WOW—impressive work as usual, Robert!

Can you steer me to this exciting patent info? I have scoured my records of those issued to Conner family members plus “the usual suspects” (Julius Heriett Sr., Henry Brehmer, Alexander Bauer, Georg Giesecke) and find nothing before the 1870s.

Skeleton Gothic was not shown in Conner’s 1873–1874 Typographic Messenger catalog supplement nor in my (incomplete reprint) of the 1888 specimens and Loy didn’t document this face, so I’m stuck…

Sometimes a patent notice refers to machinery or a process rather than the design (see W.H. Page No. 515), and sometimes Conner specimens displayed notices of design patents issued to others! Less than a dozen US type design patents were issued in 1869, and this face is not one of them. Few sans-serif “gothics” were ever patented—they were rarely “novel, original and non-obvious.”

So we can only wonder: What was Conner talking about in 1891, when a design patent issued in 1869 would have expired by 1873, 1876 or 1883 (depending on the term?).¹

James Conner [1798-1861], his sons and grandsons frequently “scouted” Germany for new designs and designers—in 1865, Herman Ihlenburg declined Conner’s job offer.² “The rest is history,” huh? After the merger of 1892, the Conner TF (New York) became temporary ATF headquarters until the central plant was opened in New Jersey (1903).

¹Ladas & Parry LLP (multiple US cities), personal communication 2011.
²Pankow, D. (1993): Recast in an American Image|The Work of Hermann (sic) Ihlenburg, Type Designer, page 11. In The Ampersand 13:10-18.


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