Holy F*#!

12 line Doric Ornamented

Since its introduction around 1849, some variation of this ornamented Tuscan style design was produced by nearly every major European and American type foundry. Nicolete Gray credits the design – calling it Tuscan No. 3 –  to the British foundry, Stephenson Blake. Mac McGrew claimed the design originated with Bruce’s New York Type Foundry as Ornamented No. 847.

Over at the Rob Roy Kelly American Wood Type Collection website David Shields writes that an ornamented wood type variation of this style, called Doric, first appeared in the US in 1854. It was this design that directly inspired Adobe’s Zebrawood.

Finding a sort (the term used for a single piece of type) from a face like this is both a blessing and a curse. The location of this lonely F’s siblings will haunt me for the rest of my life.

Fe, Fi, Fo, Fum

20 line Grecian Condensed

It’s interesting to note that the earliest appearance of Grecian, in the 1840s, was in a condensed form. The full face version that inspired Hoefler & Frere-Jones’ steroidal Knox didn’t show up until nearly twenty years later.

A side by side comparison of two F’s – both came in a single case of type purchased last year from an eBay seller – illustrates how slight changes to a letterform can dramatically alter its presence. The character on the right has an elongated upper arm and a thinner central arm (or crossbar) with the addition of unbracketed serifs. These seemingly minor design changes make this F appear narrower and more refined.

Aww, F

5 line Teutonic F

Clearly descended from the Gothics and Gothic (Concave) Tuscans – though more sophisticated than either, with its modulated strokes and flared semi-serifs – Teutonic was cut in wood first by William H. Page and shown in James Conner’s Sons Typographic Messenger, Vol.6 No.4 (October, 1871).¹

This F is one of ten characters in my woefully incomplete font. It was router cut into end grain blocks, but without an imprint discussion of place and date of manufacturer is speculative.

¹ Rob Roy Kelly American Wood Type Collection