In previous posts (see Oh K), I have called this design French Clarendon XX Condensed. While the design is without a doubt a French Clarendon, the Hamilton Manufacturing Company, the maker of this font, called it No. 95.
The capital K posted on January 16 had a crude abbreviation cut into the foot of the block. Surprisingly, this capital M seems to have been a previous attempt at an ad hoc August abbreviation. Notice the multiple starter holes created by a drill or drill press. A shocking amount of work was completed before the realization that the right-reading letters would not work for a relief printing process.
The partnership of Darius Wells and Ebenezer Russell Webb introduced this design in 1849. Rob Roy Kelly believed this to be a design that appeared first in America, and a style that had never before been produced as foundry type. The Wells & Webb catalog showing a solid version (like the one shown here) and an outline did not include lowercase letters.
10 line Kabel
With splayed stems and sharply pointed apices and vertex, Kabel’s capital M bears a striking resemblance to that of its contemporary, Futura. The identifying distinction is the eight-degree angled terminals to Kabel’s vertical stems.
This block comes from a complete end grain font that includes capitals, lowercase, figures, and punctuation. Kabel was called No. 803 by The Hamilton Manufacturing Company who showed it alongside Bernhard Gothic Medium (No. 807) in their Wood Type Catalog 38, 1938.
Page 24, Wood Type Catalog 38, 1938, Hamilton Manufacturing Company
4 line De Vinne
I absolutely love hearing from fellow printers, letterpress lovers, and wood type enthusiasts. This post goes out to Philip in Australia who asked if I had seen the De Vinne alternate M with the shortened vertex – indeed I have! Philip also collects wood type and he generously shared pics of a few of his gorgeous, unusual fonts. Anyone else want to share?
8 line, 5 line, and 4 line De Vinne
First cut by Hamilton Manufacturing Co. circa 1895, this face was designed and named for the great American printer Theodore Low De Vinne. Mac McGrew wrote in his American Metal Typefaces of the Twentieth Century (an invaluable typographic resource), “De Vinne, the display face, is credited with bringing an end to the period of overly ornate and fanciful display faces of the nineteenth century, and with restoring the dignity of plain roman types.” De Vinne himself credited the design to the Central Type Foundry (CTF patented it in 1893) and said of it, “This face is the outcome of correspondence between the senior of the De Vinne Press (himself) and Mr. J. A. St. John of the Central Type Foundry of St. Louis, concerning the need of plainer types of display, to replace the profusely ornamented types in fashion.” Luckily for us, fashion is cyclical.
The missing stem of the 8 line M is not due to poor printing, rather that part of the letter was damaged long before it ever came into my possession. Note that the two smaller letters are less condensed. De Vinne was copied, condensed, compressed, extended, and expanded by every major American typefoundry, plus Linotype, Monotype, and the wood type manufacturers.