The kerning job on this big-shouldered beauty is clean and precise; probably accomplished by an experienced craftsperson using a printer’s saw (like the Hammond Glider).
Printed onto 9 x 19.75 inch sheets of Mohawk Superfine, Smooth, White, 100lb. cover using (top to bottom) 20 line Antique XX Condensed, 20 line Tuscan Antique, and 20 line French Clarendon. The borders are No. 156 and No. 157, die-stamped wood type borders from the Wm. H. Page Wood Type Co.
Last night I installed a small show at Alchemy. Lauren helped me hang twelve new prints, plus two completed last year. The main attraction of the show, entitled Hyperbole For Sale, is the immense “Super, Extra, Ultra, Mega!” At 19.75 x 27.5 inches, it’s easily the largest print I’ve made, and it was only possible because of the fabulous Vandercook SP20 at the Book Arts Studio.
Super, Extra, Ultra, Mega! on press
The first line is 30 line Grecian Condensed; second is 20 line French Clarendon; Ultra is set in 24 line Gothic X Condensed (the only type used for this piece not from my collection); and last but not least is 15 line Antique Tuscan.
Printing on the SP20, photo courtesy Lauren Huber
According to Rob Roy Kelly, this version of the Page & Co. imprint was believed to be in use 1857–59. On the Rob Roy Kelly American Wood Type Collection website, David Shields dates the first appearance of French Clarendon wood types to 1865. When I asked Mr. Shields for assistance with this puzzle, he replied that Kelly’s note regarding this stamp says “use of 1857–‘59 stamp on types not listed until 1870.” Shields guesses Page & Co. may have reused the 1857–59 stamp for a short time in the 1870s.
At just over 6.5 inches this French Clarendon is the largest end grain font in my collection, and the second largest line-height overall. Long before they came into my possession, a few of the characters had been used to print a split fountain and the ink allowed to dry on the surface.
24 line French Clarendon
This style of wood type made its first appearance in 1865. The Clarendons were an extremely popular subset of the Antique wood type styles. What differentiates the Clarendons is a smoother transition between the stems and the serifs, called bracketing (indicated on the proof above with red circles), rounded counters, and more contrast between the thickness of the strokes. This four inch font was cut by The Hamilton Manufacturing Company sometime between 1889 and 1891, as indicated by the circular imprint stamped into the capital A (see image below).