Printed onto 9 x 19.75 inch sheets of Mohawk Superfine, Smooth, White, 100lb. cover using (top to bottom) 20 line Antique XX Condensed, 20 line Tuscan Antique, and 20 line French Clarendon. The borders are No. 156 and No. 157, die-stamped wood type borders from the Wm. H. Page Wood Type Co.
Last night I installed a small show at Alchemy. Lauren helped me hang twelve new prints, plus two completed last year. The main attraction of the show, entitled Hyperbole For Sale, is the immense “Super, Extra, Ultra, Mega!” At 19.75 x 27.5 inches, it’s easily the largest print I’ve made, and it was only possible because of the fabulous Vandercook SP20 at the Book Arts Studio.
Super, Extra, Ultra, Mega! on press
The first line is 30 line Grecian Condensed; second is 20 line French Clarendon; Ultra is set in 24 line Gothic X Condensed (the only type used for this piece not from my collection); and last but not least is 15 line Antique Tuscan.
Printing on the SP20, photo courtesy Lauren Huber
15 line Antique Tuscan
This Antique Tuscan X is quite possibly my favorite wood type character… this week anyway. The heart-shaped arrowhead counters make me grin uncontrollably, and the way the lateral counters echo the vertical on a larger scale make this letterform just about perfect.
According to Rob Roy Kelly, this typeface is a true American original (probably), showing up first as a wood type capital alphabet in the 1849 Specimens of Wood Type by Darius Wells and Ebenezer Russell Webb.
15 line Antique Tuscan
Like French Clarendon, Tuscan is a subcategory of Antique. The first appearance of Antique Tuscan was in the 1849 Wells & Webb type specimen, it showed only capital letters. A lowercase showed up five years later, also by Wells & Webb. The design – originating as wood type, then adapted and copied by foundries casting metal type – is a modification of Antique in which curves are substituted for straight lines and the terminals of the serifs become concave. Not long after its appearance in the Wells & Webb specimens Antique Tuscan was available from all wood type manufacturers, and proved a popular design in both wood and metal through the end of the nineteenth century. The range of weights available grew to include, Condensed, X Condensed, XX Condensed, Expanded, and Extended.
My font includes capitals and some punctuation – wait until you see the sexy ampersand – but no lowercase. As far as I know this is the only font of veneer type in my collection; the face of the letters is cut from a thin veneer (0.1875 inches) of wood that is glued to a separate block to make it type high. Rob Roy Kelly believed Hamilton to be the only manufacturer to produce wood type by this method (I could not find an imprint on this font), though he describes the veneers as being 0.0625 inches. This method of production was so much cheaper than using end-cut type it allowed Hamilton to undersell its competitors, eventually forcing all other wood type producers to sell out to The Hamilton Manufacturing Company.