6 line Neon

picture and printed proof of 6 line Neon wood type numeral fiveNeon is a three-dimensional inline sans serif with rounded terminals and an unusual left-hand shadow. According to Mac McGrew, it was designed in 1936 by Willy Schaefer for the German foundry, C. E. Weber. The National Type Foundry, of Pittsburgh (later to become the Neon Type Foundry), copied the face and made it available in the U.S.

12 line Clarendon

It’s a Clarendon countdown to 2012, beginning with this first-rate five.

15 line Clarendon X Condensed Lightface

Hi 5!

5 line Aetna

This robust Roman appeared in a specimen from 1870 by William H. Page was first shown as wood type by William H. Page in James Conner’s Sons Typographic Messenger, Vol.7 No.3 (July, 1872) – sincerest thanks to David Shields for the correction (see the link in Shields’ comment). The number of patents held by Page for ornamental Chromatics (type faces made to print in two or more colors) based on this face led Rob Roy Kelly  to believe Aetna may have originated with Page & Company. Based on the imprint (rubbing shown below) found on the A’s – used between 1857 and 1859 – this may be oldest font in my collection.

Page & Co., Greenville, CT imprint; used 1857–1859

Jonathan Hoefler twice¹ wondered² about the fascination artists have with the number five. Aside from the religious and spiritual symbolism, and mathematical significance, the 5 is arguably the most formally beautiful numeral. In most faces, it is comprised of a harmonious combination of linear and curvilinear strokes. Aetna’s 5 exhibits extreme contrast between thicks and thins, flamboyant stroke modulation, and a rotund ball terminal – unequivocally sexy, and without a doubt my favorite number.

¹ Typographic Gifts for Designers, Part 11
² Typographic Gifts for Designers, Part 14