In the 1907 edition of Types of the DeVinne Press, Theodore L. De Vinne notes that the face evolved from handwriting of early scribes and was widely used by 15th-century printers in Spain.
Contrary to Conventional Wisdom…
The earliest THP-examined specimen was illustrated as Tudor Black (source unidentified) in the Spring 1878 edition of Hailing’s Circular. If the design was registered (patented) in Great Britain, exclusive rights would have expired by 1881 or 1883.
Nicolette Gray identifies it five years later as Miller & Richard’s Old Tudor Black, c1883.¹ Indeed, the 1884 catalog of Palmer & Rey (successors to M&R’s San Francisco branch) shows it as Old Black. This face “went viral” in the US and abroad. Few TFs did NOT carry (or copy?) it. In Germany, it was shown as Psalter.²
An “open” derivative was patented in June–July, 1898 by Rudolph Gnichwitz of the Keystone TF (Philadelphia). He assigned the rights to Mather Manufacturing Company, the corporate owner [USPTO D29080].
¹Gray, N. (1938): XIXth Century Ornamented Types and Title Pages, page 191. Faber and Faber Limited, London.
²Solo, D.X. (c2010): Personal communication to Robert Donona.