Wednesday, August 29, 2007

history lessons

It's seems that it's my fate to be in the studio on the most beautiful days of the year. Today is no exception. Though I was here mostly by choice--being trapped in the mystery of this type.

The story: I was cleaning out type cabinets at Letterpress Things a few months ago, and, as a treat, John B. let me keep anything I found. It was all pretty dirty, but I saw 3 cases of Caslon Openface, and this lovely blackletter. I put the type in a box, and just started sorting it last night. Usually I sort it into lines in the little box (above left), with chipboard separaters. And because it was such a small font, I wanted to check that I had all the characters, so I then sorted it onto a sheet of paper (above right). All there, thank goodness, even though there's not a lot. Step 2: find it in MacGrew's. The result: Tudor Black, 12pt. And it's just lovely.
Step 3: Set a little bit of it, and proof it. I decided on Dante's Inferno (Canto V), it seemed the most appropriate thing on my bookshelf. Hooray for my spankin' clean Nolan No.1!Isn't it pretty? I just love that "O."

Step 4: Which typefoundry? After a little cleaning of the pinmark, I check Briar Press' pinmark directory, and discover that it looks an awful lot like this one, from Farmer, Little, & Co., a foundry that operated in NYC from 1862 to 1892, when it was absorbed into ATF. That means that my type might be well over 100 years old! I'm so excited. Does that make me a big dork?

P.S. Workshops are filling up fast! Sign up soon, or you might have to wait until Spring...

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