Fourteen is an even number, but an odd line height for a font of wood type. Nevertheless, this J comes from a fourteen line font of capitals and some punctuation (no figures). The naivete of many of the characters, the lack of a manufacturer’s stamp, and the unusual size make me wonder if this might be a one-of-a-kind, possibly created by a printer for a specific job.
There’s nothing particularly special about this letterform, simply three unadorned strokes. The crossbar (central, horizontal stroke) is thinner, and sits higher than mathematical center, giving an appearance of optical balance and equality. It’s the light color of the face, the prominent wood grain, the traces of red and black ink, the worn and rounded edges and scars from a life of hard work; it’s the warmth and humanity of this block that make it a cherished object.
30 line Gothic Bold
This previously uninked semicolon comes from a big, bold Gothic font, most of which has never been printed. The body of this character is actually taller than 30 picas (notice the large shoulder above the dot) because the terminal extends below the baseline. The pantagraph router marks are quite prominent on most of the characters in this side grain font. There is no manufacturer’s imprint, but because the font has seen so little use, the fact that it was cut from a softer wood (I’m guessing pine) and the face was left unfinished (no shellac), and the style of the letters – not quite Futura-esque, but definitely leaning towards the geometric – lead me to guess it originated from the American Wood Type Manufacturing Company, a company still serving the printing and graphic arts industries as American Printing Equipment & Supply Co.
The boldness of this font belies its short stature. Nevertheless, it’s special. I found a partial imprint on the first capital A that I picked up; the rest of the imprint was found on another A. The way each half of the imprint perfectly completes the other suggests two possibilities. One, the face of these two A’s were cut into a single block, stamped with the maker’s mark, then sawed in half. Or two, the two letters were held side by side while the imprint was stamped into both blocks simultaneously.
In the picture it’s difficult to read the imprint, but it says, “AMERICAN W.T. Co. SO WINDHAM CT.” There were a number of manufacturers that produced wood type under the name American Wood Type Company, but Rob Roy Kelly had little doubt that the one in South Windham, Connecticut was founded by Charles Tubbs in 1878. Mr. Tubbs reorganized the company a couple of times changing the name first to Tubbs & Co., and later operating as Tubbs Mfg. Co. until it was acquired by The Hamilton Manufacturing Company in 1918.