This crude capital K was found cut into the foot (the bottom) of a capital N. There’s one other K in this 5 line font so I’m trying to imagine the text that required the hasty cutting of a second. Black Jack? Lucky Duck? Killer Buck on the Loose?
Best suggestion by Friday, February 11 gets a fancy wood type postcard.
30 line Grecian Condensed
This capital X was carved – mostly by hand, though some of the markings seem to indicate the assistance of a drill bit – into the bottom of the capital K shown in yesterdays post. It makes sense that a knowledgeable printer/typographer would use the K to cut an additional X. The letters share similar strokes and character widths, and both are among the most infrequently used letters in the english language. The unfinished end grain produces a very rough, but not unappealing, print.
30 line (5 inches) Grecian Condensed
Without any chamfered corners, and removed from the context of the rest of the font, this Grecian Condensed K is nearly indistinguishable from its ancestral Antique design. Before this post I hadn’t really noticed the sharp contrast in weight between the arm and leg of this character – for some reason it’s more noticeable in the picture than in the proof. This end grain block is from the same font shown on January 25 (capital P).
24 line (4 inches) French Clarendon XX Condensed
French Clarendon is a derivative of the Antique category of wood types. Along with Antique Tuscan, Grecian, Latin, French Egyptian Antique, Aldine, Columbian, Ionic, and French Clarendon, the derivatives of Antique are the most prevalent of the nineteenth-century wood type styles. The condensed versions of these faces, like this XX Condensed, dominated poster design at the end of the century. Their bold, almost monoweight stems, elongated serifs (they often look like they’ve been stretched), and compact character width allowed for taller letters to be used, maximizing visual impact.
This K is special. An abbreviated spelling of August has been carved into the bottom of the letter. This was not an uncommon practice among creative, fiscally-minded, commercial printers. The end grain of the wood is quite durable and provides ample room to carve additional letters, even illustrations. Because the bottom of the letters were not sanded smooth and finished with shellac, the grain of the wood is prevalent when inked and printed. Here is a printed proof of the bottom of this K:
And a composite photograph showing the top and bottom of the character. Notice the roughness of the carving, clearly aided by a drill bit:
The A’s in this font are stamped with a circular imprint from The Hamilton Manufacturing Company that was used between 1889–1891. Rob Roy Kelly shows three different imprints from Hamilton. This circular version is unique among them; it’s the only one to show Chicago as a location.