Will the Real De Vinne Please Stand Up?

5 line De Vinne

Not to be mistaken with Howland

Tasty Redux

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.