Hi 5!

5 line Aetna

This robust Roman appeared in a specimen from 1870 by William H. Page was first shown as wood type by William H. Page in James Conner’s Sons Typographic Messenger, Vol.7 No.3 (July, 1872) – sincerest thanks to David Shields for the correction (see the link in Shields’ comment). The number of patents held by Page for ornamental Chromatics (type faces made to print in two or more colors) based on this face led Rob Roy Kelly  to believe Aetna may have originated with Page & Company. Based on the imprint (rubbing shown below) found on the A’s – used between 1857 and 1859 – this may be oldest font in my collection.

Page & Co., Greenville, CT imprint; used 1857–1859

Jonathan Hoefler twice¹ wondered² about the fascination artists have with the number five. Aside from the religious and spiritual symbolism, and mathematical significance, the 5 is arguably the most formally beautiful numeral. In most faces, it is comprised of a harmonious combination of linear and curvilinear strokes. Aetna’s 5 exhibits extreme contrast between thicks and thins, flamboyant stroke modulation, and a rotund ball terminal – unequivocally sexy, and without a doubt my favorite number.

¹ Typographic Gifts for Designers, Part 11
² Typographic Gifts for Designers, Part 14

2 thoughts on “Hi 5!”

  1. Kelly got his dates a bit wrong (or it might be phrased better as: 40 years after he published AWT, new evidence have come to light) on the Aetna. This face was first shown as wood type by William H. Page in James Conner’s Sons Typographic Messenger, Vol.7 No.3 (July, 1872). Page’s 1870 specimen was dedicated to German types. It does include a full listing of Page’s wood types on the price list page, but the list does not include Aetna.

    I have tried, as much as possible, to update errors in Kelly’s text on the Rob Roy Kelly American Wood Type web site. Here is a link to the entry for Aetna: http://bit.ly/cSbhQm

    Enjoy visiting your site, nice work.


  2. Thanks very much for the correction! I wish I had access to more specimens. In the meantime, your comments, corrections, and expertise are welcome and greatly appreciated.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *