Yesterday morning I spent some time with Brett Blaisdell, owner/operator of the big-ass laser at Smug Labs. My mission was to test the capability of Brett’s Epilog laser to engrave wood type. The Book Arts Program generously donated a plank grain maple board from Art Boards for the experiment.
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.